Teesta Setalvad: India activist gets bail in 2002 Gujarat riots case


India’s Supreme Court has granted bail to one of the country’s best-known rights lawyers.

Teesta Setalvad has long fought for the victims of the deadly 2002 riots in the western state of Gujarat and accused PM Narendra Modi, who was then the state’s chief minister, of complicity.

She was arrested in June on charges of “forgery and fabricating evidence” in a riots case.

Her arrest was widely condemned by global rights groups.

It also sparked protests – with critics accusing Mr Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government of targeting Ms Setalvad for her work.

Since 2003, Ms Setalvad has been accused in at least seven cases – allegations range from violating India’s foreign exchange rules and embezzling funds raised from riot victims to coaching witnesses in the trials.

But investigators were never able to charge her and the courts refused police request for her custody to question her about five times.

The 2002 riots in Gujarat were among India’s worst outbreaks of violence in decades.

More than 1,000 people – mostly Muslims – died in the riots which began after 60 Hindu pilgrims died in a train fire, which was blamed on Muslims, in the town of Godhra.

The state’s BJP government and Mr Modi were accused of not doing enough to bring the violence under control – an allegation he has consistently denied.

In June, the Supreme Court cleared him of complicity after ruling that there was no evidence against him.

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