A committee appointed by the Ministry of Human Resource Development on Saturday held Teesta Setalvad of the Sabrang Trust for “culpable for hatred-filled, disharmony-spreading, ill-will generating, enmity-creating explosive writings” and said that a prima facie case exists aginst her under IPC sections 152-A and 153-B. The section 152-A and 153-B can hold her responsible for encouraging enmity among different groups on religious grounds and acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony, and imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration and punish her with jail terms and fine. The HRD Ministry-appointed committee further stated that those who held the office formerly during the UPA rule “can’t escape accountability, responsibility and culpability” as the Sabrang Trust was granted Rs 1.39 crore, which it was not eligible for.
Former HRD Minister Smriti Irani had formed the committee that had submitted its report in June 2015. The report now awaits the opinion and the decision of Prakash Javadekar, the present HRD Minister. “I have asked for the report and have not yet seen it. I can speak about it only after going through it”, Javadekar told IE. The committee was chaired by Syed A Bari, the vice-chancellor Gujarat Central University , SC advocate Abhijit Bhattacharya and HRD Minister Gaya Prasad. When asked about details about the report, Bhattacharya refused to comment about and said that thy did the job that they were given and he can’t say anything about the content of the report. The report is speculated to have pointed out that since education was not an objective, the HRD ministry should have not considered the Sabrang Trust for a scheme of assistance on education. It was also reported that the committee said that an careful look at the trust application would have led to an immediate rejection but the ministry had overlooked that and sanctioned Rs 2.06 crore for a project of 2 years. The committee report also states that Rs 5.92 lakh was returned to the ministry on June 12, 2014.
The committee further said that it was of the opinion that the Sabrang Trust was involved in the spreading of a political agenda; something that was evident from its literature, which held Gujarat in low esteem and bordered criticism on a political criticism. IE sources suggest that the committee also found out that the Former HRD Minister Muri Manohar Joshi had been criticised for the re-writing of history books. Joshi and his supporters had also been criticised because of their links with the RSS.
Teesta Setalvad’s husband Javed Anand said that the committee took a narrow view of education. He said that it must be remembered, Teesta, two decades ago had started a programme called ‘KHOJ: Education of a Plural India.’ Javed said that they were unable to contemplate as to how the committee had reached a conclusion that said that education was not an objective of the Sabrang Trust. When asked about the committee’s charges of political agenda, he retaliated and said that the allegation itself was politically motivated and strongly refuted. He further spoke about the agenda of the Trust being the Indian Constitution and its aim was to “protect and promote constitutional values among all sections of society, children included.”