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December 11, 2008

Amaresh Mishra’s web of lies


Shri Aziz Burney,
Editor In Chief
Rashtriya Sahara Newspaper

Dear Shri Burney,

I am writing this specifically in response to a news item that appeared in The Rashtriya Sahara on December 7, 2008. I was surprised and shocked that a respectable and widely read Urdu daily published an item without cross checking the baseless allegations made therein. I am referring, Sir, to the scurrilous and unsubstantiated new items carried by your esteemed publication obviously authored by one MR. AMARESH MISHRA, a dangerous individual. I am shocked that your newspaper printed without bothering to verify the false and baseless allegations against my husband and colleague JAVED ANAND, co-editor of COMMUNALISM COMBAT and secretary, MUSLIMS FOR SECULAR DEMOCRACY.

To rectify the one-sided view that has been published, I crave leave to dwell on the events of that day. The Citizens for Justice and Peace had hosted a meeting at the St. Xaviers College Hall to condemn the horrific terror attacks and to outline an action plan for youth and citizens. All of us were gathered there, scattered in the quadrangle and the hall. Swami Agnivesh and Mufti Fuzail Ul Rahman Hilal Usmani, our special guests, were also present having been escorted by my husband and colleague, Javed Anand. Suddenly Mr Amaresh Mishra arrived on the scene and first started using abusive language against M Rajdeep Sardesai, editor in chief of CNN-IBN at which point his mother Smt Nandini Sardesai also intervened. He then started haranguing Swami Agnivesh our guest, "warning" him on how he should speak related to the recent terror attacks in Mumbai! He soon turned to abusing both Mr Javed Anand and journalist Sajjid Rashid in offensive and unprintable language. In fact our daughter hurried to me at this point thinking that her father, Javed Anand was about to be assaulted. One of the over dozen witnesses, Shahbaz Khan intervened at this point and escorted Mr Amaresh Mishra out of the college.

Sir, there were many witnesses present that day, December 4, 2008 when Mr. Mishra in fact did his best to disrupt our meeting and abuse Mr.Rajdeep Sardesai, Mr. Javed Anand and others. I believe he did this because he is threatened by the scope and reach of our activities and
especially the role of MSD in drawing the Muslim community into Civic, Secular Democratic issues breaking the manipulative stereotypes perpetrated by the Hindu right wing -- the RSS, the Bajrang Dal and the VHP among many other organizations -- against the entire community.  Specifically, I believe that Mr Amaresh Mishra was out to discredit the courage and initiative shown by both Mr Javed Anand and myself in suggesting to Indian Muslims all over the country to demonstrate in one voice against the enemies of India and the forces of terror following the recent attacks on Mumbai on November 26, 2008. This eleven city protest was successfully held on Sunday December 7, 2008, the day the unsubstantiated news item in your newspaper appeared. I trust and hope that this letter of mine finds prominent space n ALL editions of the newspaper.

There are more falsehoods, Sir, in Mr Mishra's claims. He mentions three respected members of the Muslim clergy who he says also condemned M Javed Anand for "ostensibly attacking Mr Mishra (sic)". One of the three respected persons Maulana Mustaqeen Azmi specifically spoke to me, categorically refuting Mr Mishra's claim that he had issued any such statement of condemnation. Finally, Mr Mishra ends his diatribe stating that he spoke to some persons that include Mr Javed Akhtar, Ms Shabana Azmi and me, Ms Teesta Setalvad about the incident. This is an absolute lie. He did not speak to either of us and has not for some time.

I am consciously not engaging here on the merits and de-merits of the conspiracy theories spouted by Mr Mishra in print and on the internet that are not just too incerdible but have also, surprisingly escaped the wrath of the sangh parivar. I am hoping that your publication will give me an opportunity to engage in an open debate with him on these theories. Until then I am hopeful that this short piece of mine receives de space attention and prominence in Rashtriya Sahara.

In anticipation

Teesta Setalvad
Secretary Citizens for Justice and Peace

Co-Editor Communalism Combat

Hoping against Hope,