The saga of vindictive action against activist Teesta Setalvad continues. The first round was the criminal complaint (alleged embezzlement) by the Gujarat police. There has been no charge sheet despite over 20,000 pages of account related documents being supplied. The bail matter is pending in the Supreme Court, and meanwhile, four organisational and four personal accounts have been frozen. The second round was the Gujarat police-driven MHA inquiry into the FCRA accounts of both CJP and Sabrang Trust. That has concluded, but the Supreme Court is yet to de-freeze the accounts. The third round was a raid on Setalvad’s home and office by the CBI (directly under the PMO) in July 2015.
Then came the fourth round, in typical style moving from “misappropriation of funds” to “spreading hatred”. In March 2015, Smriti Irani announced a MHRD probe against a project that Sabrang Trust had received for the KHOJ Education for Plural India programme.
KHOJ has been active since 1994 and has been working on the crucial area of Education Policy related to democratisation of the social studies and history syllabus and text-books.
The KHOJ project was funded by MHRD under its Scheme of Assistance under Innovative and Experimental Education Programmes — Grants to Voluntary agencies under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. The MHRD project was for KHOJ, Sabrang's Secular Education Programme running in municipal and zilla parishad schools, that has received wide acclaim in general and an extremely positive assessment from the Joint Evaluation Committee which evaluated the functioning of the project mid-term.
The Joint Evaluation Team (JET) reviewed the progress of the project mid-way through the grant in February 2012. The JET concluded among other things: "Overall, the objectives and efforts under the KHOJ project are undoubtedly laudable since not only do they cater to the need to promote secularism and peace education, which should be a priority, but also since there is hardly any effort otherwise in mainstream schools to address these aspects. How crucial it is to reach out to the children especially of the urban poor from the slum areas comes across very strongly in the anecdotes shared by KHOJ teachers with the JET…"
Members of the Committee include Professor Zoya Hasan, Professor Gopal Guru, Professor GP Deshpande, Teesta Setalvad and Professor Krishna Kumar. The report of the Committee can be read here.