Mumbai | Six days after registering a case against activist Teesta Setalvad, CBI today searched four premises linked to her for alleged violation of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) in accepting donations from abroad without obtaining permission from the home ministry.
Armed with court warrants, the CBI sleuths searched four places including premises owned by Setalvad, her husband Javed Anand, an associate Gulam Mohammed Peshimam and the offices of Sabrang Communication and Publishing Pvt Limited (SCPPL).
Setalvad, who was at fore front of campaign for 2002 Gujarat riots victims, flayed the CBI action, saying she was surprised and shocked as it had happened despite her offering full cooperation to the central probe agency. The CBI had registered a case against them on July 8 under IPC section 120-B related to criminal conspiracy, besides provisions of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010 and Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 1976.
We had written a letter to CBI offering full cooperation and telling the agency that whatever so-called offences are registered against us, we will cooperate. So we don’t understand the rationale behind this entire operation, she said. We believe that it is a caged-parrot in operation and its a political vendetta and they are trying to humiliate and intimidate us, she said, noting the team here is very professional but we don’t know where it will end.
However, CBI spokesperson Kanchan Prasad said the searches were being conducted after following the due process of law and also countered the cooperation claim of Setalvad, contending as far as cooperation with CBI is concerned, they have not been able to explain the violation of the FCRA.
CBI had registered a case after completing verification of all the documents submitted by the home ministry, which had referred them to the probe agency. It was alleged that SCPPL violated FCRA by accepting a donation of USD 2.9 lakh from US-based Ford Foundation without getting clearance from the Home Ministry.
The government had earlier ordered a CBI probe into the transfer of funds by US-based Ford Foundation to Sabrang Communication and Publishing Pvt Limited (SCPPL) and even froze a bank account of the firm on June 26.
It was alleged that at SCPPL violate rules of FCRA in accepting a donation of USD 2.9 lakh from Ford Foundation without getting clearance of the Home Ministry.
According to the rules, an organisation or a private firm can accept donations from overseas only after it is registered under FCRA. The donation was, therefore, a serious violation of FCRA provisions which mandate funding from a foreign source to only those recipients who have FCRA registration, the Home Ministry had said while ordering a CBI case.
A bank account of the firm located in Juhu, Mumbai, had also been frozen at the instruction of the Home Ministry.
The Gujarat government had earlier asked the Home Ministry to take action against Ford Foundation, alleging that the US-based organisation was interfering in internal affairs of the country and also abetting communal disharmony through an NGO run by Setalvad.
The fund transfer from Ford Foundation has, at present, to be cleared by a nodal official in the Home Ministry. In April, the government had ordered that funds from Ford Foundation should not be released by any bank to any Indian NGO without mandatory permission from the Home Ministry.
There are several cases in which the Gujarat government and Setalvad are waging legal battles. While she has filed several cases against the state government functionaries in connection with post-Godhra riots of 2002, the state police have filed a case of alleged embezzlement of funds against her.
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