Time for NGOs in Gujarat to introspect

Posted By: Staff
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Teesta Setalwad
The end of February is a very busy time for 'mombattiwalahs', holding candles, reminding us of their 'negative' presence. It is that time when the most prosperous cottage industry of post-Mandal India sets out to attain windfall profits.
The perks range from seats in the National Advisory Council, Planning Commission committees, other forums and even monetary incentives to continue ‘fighting for the cause of justice.' No prizes to guess the event I am talking about is the anniversary of the Godhra carnage, which was followed by unfortunate instances of violence in Gujarat.

Eleven years on, Gujarat has moved on. The people of Gujarat including the Muslims seek closure, and have time and again voiced their preference for development over tokenism.

Gujarat elected three assemblies after 2002 and on all three occasions the BJP led by Narendra Modi emerged victorious. In the various local body polls several Muslim candidates have won on BJP tickets. Salaya, a Muslim dominated area elected 24 out of 27 Muslim candidates on BJP tickets. In 2010 the BJP won the Kathlal by-election. Kathlal is considered to be a Muslim dominated seat.

All this does not seem to impress the handful anti-Gujarat cottage industry, whose nuisance value is inversely proportional to their numerical strength and their intellectual caliber.

However, the people of Gujarat are gradually seeing through the petty and anti-development games and are resisting their efforts to dislodge the peace and harmony in Gujarat.

NGOs Go Back!' say Gulberag Society Residents

One of the most fitting replies to the antics of the NGOs has come from the residents of Gulberag society in Ahmedabad. Back in 2002, Gulberag was among the most affected places of the riots. That, however has not stopped its brave residents from putting the past behind for a better tomorrow.

In a strongly worded letter to the Ahmedabad Police Commissioner, residents of Gulberag society have sought a complete ban on the entry NGOs who come on February 28, every year, to ‘mark' the unfortunate violence there.

The residents have not only lodged their protests and asked for a ban on NGOs holding programmes but also sought security from the Ahmedabad police to prevent such NGOs from entering their society. The residents want to have their own ceremonies to pay homage to those who lost their lives in 2002.

The residents mince no words in saying that the NGOs are not their well-wishers and they rebuke the NGO for making documentary films and showcasing it at the world stage for grants and funds. The residents inform the Police Commissioner that they are living peacefully and do not want anything from these NGOs.

These words by the Gulberag Society expose the vacuity of the NGOs and self seeking elements for whom the loss of life and property in 2002 has become nothing but an exercise of self promotion and commercial enterprise. One must laud the residents of Gulberag Society for their brave step.

Planning panel member's residence used for anti-Gujarat activities

The antics of NGOs and the ‘justice seekers of Gujarat' take various come in various forms. One such modus operandi has been exposed by BJP's National Vice President and Rajya Sabha MP from Gujarat Parshottam Rupala.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Rupala shows how Planning Commission member Sayeda Hameed was misusing the official residence allotted to her for anti-Gujarat activities.

In a gross violation of rules, Hameed's number 23, Canning Lane residence has become the office for ANHAD, an NGO run by Shabhnam Hashmi, whose anti-Gujarat stance is more than well known. The fact that an NGO is using official government accommodation of a Planning Commission member and conducting its activities is extremely shocking and deeply unfortunate. The list of bodies donating to ANHAD are both Indian and foreign, with the foreign donors surpassing their Indian counterparts.

The key point, which Rupala correctly raises is how did an NGO based out of the residence of a Planning Commission member get steady funds? Is the money only being used for the purpose for which it is collected or is there a larger, sinister motive behind these collections? Isn't Sayeda Hameed aware of Shabhnam Hashmi's close association with wife of disgraced IPS officer Sanjeev Bhatt when she was contesting against Narendra Modi on a Congress ticket? Is it not a fact that ANHAD opened an office in Maninagar close to Shweta Bhatt's campaign office? Sayeda Hameed must not only come clear on the issue but also if there is a link between her and ANHAD, she must relinquish her post as a member of the Planning Commission.

Rupala questions ANHAD on their concealing from the Home Ministry the receiving of funds from HIVOS, a Dutch organisation. Is this not a serious offence? And does Sayeda Hameed deserve to be allotted a bungalow if this is what is happening in her premises? I leave the answer to your conscience.

The curious case of Teesta Setalvad

The activities of Teesta Setalvad are well known. She remains the prime example of how to milk the riots to enhance personal fortunes and credentials. However, her former aide Rais Khan has time and again exposed her anti-national modus operandi.

A few days ago, Rais Khan moved the Supreme Court seeking the withdrawal of Justice Aftab Alam from cases pertaining to the Gujarat riots keeping in mind the close links Justice Alam's daughter enjoys with Teesta and her associates.

Rais Khan opines that Justice Alam's NGO is closely linked to the same Holland based HIVOS, which apart from funding ANHAD is also funding Teesta Setalvad. He also names another Bangalore based NGO working closely with HIVOS that has dedicated a separate section on the Gujarat riots where Teesta Setalvad's company has contributed. Justice Alam's daughter is also on the payroll of this NGO.

Rais Khan, who has worked closely with Teesta in the past has also said that her NGO Citizens for Justice and Peace is in severe violation of the Foreign Contributions Regulations Act (FCRA) by not abiding by the conditions that regulate receipts of foreign funds from abroad. He states that CJP was granted FCRA under the economic and education categories while the truth is it does everything except this.

The brave residents of Gulberag society who wrote to the police commissioner wrote an equally strong worded letter to Teesta, seeking answers on funds collected in their name.

The residents wrote that RTI documents have revealed that Teesta has collected huge donation from domestic and global organisations to provide financial assistance and build a museum but 11 years on nothing has happened. The strongly worded letter asks Teesta and her cohorts as to how much money she collected and why she hasn't distributed it to the society members, as she promised.

From misusing government residence, being secretive about foreign funds, showing disregard to the judiciary to disturbing the peace of residents every year for selfish ends, the anti-Gujarat NGOs indulge in every activity that an NGO is not supposed to do.

For few years the people bought their antics but slowly these times are changing. The same people in whose name they are ‘fighting' do not want mere tokenism but they want change on the ground, a change that can once again give flight to their aspirations and a society where they are no longer seen as victims to be pitied active partners in a journey towards progress...

(The views expressed in this article are the author's own. He can be followed- @KishoreTrivedi1 on Twitter)

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