The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Zahira bites benefactor hand

New Delhi, March 29: First she accused her mentor Teesta Setalvad. Now it's Justice A.S. Anand's turn.

Zahira Sheikh, the 'face' of one of the worst Gujarat riot cases, the Best Bakery massacre, has accused the National Human Rights Commission chairman of wrongly recording her statement and sought to cross-examine him.

Former Chief Justice Anand was instrumental in bringing the attention of the Supreme Court ' and the country ' on the Best Bakery case.

Zahira also sought a probe into the bank accounts of Teesta, whom she had accused of 'tutoring' her to implicate innocent people in the case in which she has turned hostile.

In an application in the Supreme Court, Zahira said: 'I was taken to the office of (the) NHRC and was made to say orally what Teesta had told me to say.' But the statement the rights panel had produced before the court was not what she had told the commission, Zahira said.

'I would like my lawyer to examine the chairman of the NHRC' in respect of that statement, she added.

The statement, which Zahira said was recorded by Justice Anand and two members, was part of the affidavit the panel had filed before the apex court. It was on the basis of the panel's petition that the court ordered retrial of the case in Mumbai while quashing the acquittal of all the accused.

Zahira sought the probe into her former mentor's bank accounts on the ground that the social activist 'has amassed huge wealth through questionable means'.

'Neither Teesta nor her husband is running any NGO called Communal Combat, which is a business venture of a company or firm known as Sabrang Publication,' she claimed.

'I and Best Bakery were the symbols to ensure money is collected in the name of combat communalism,' Zahira said.

'My lawyers tell me that this is a device to avoid (the) foreign contribution regulation act. Had it been an NGO, every foreign contribution would have been disclosed after giving information to the Union home ministry. It is a disguise to cover up receipts of foreign contributions.'

Teesta, who has accused Zahira of taking bribe to hush up the case, refused to comment. In an affidavit filed before the Supreme Court, Teesta had said all the allegations against her were 'false'.

Tomorrow, the police video of the scene at Best Bakery on March 2, 2002, a day after the massacre, will be shown in the Mumbai trial court. The defence had opposed the screening.

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