Teesta Setalvad is an influential activist, journalist, and human rights advocate in India. Born to parents deeply involved in law and public affairs, she grew up with a strong sense of social responsibility. Graduating from Bombay University with a degree in Philosophy, Teesta began her career as a journalist, reporting for renowned newspapers like The Daily and The Indian Express. Her commitment to truth and justice led her to cover sensitive and tumultuous events, including the 1984 Bhiwandi riots and the 1993 Mumbai riots.
In 1993, Teesta and her husband Javed Anand decided to step away from mainstream media and launched their monthly magazine, Communalism Combat. This marked the beginning of her journey as an activist, dedicating herself to fighting against communalism and religious violence in India.
Alongside notable figures like Javed Akhtar, Vijay Tendulkar, Anil Dharker, and Rahul Bose, Teesta co-founded the organization Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP). The CJP aimed to advocate for the victims of the 2002 Gujarat riots and sought a criminal trial against then Chief Minister Narendra Modi and other politicians and officials allegedly involved in the riots.
In her unwavering pursuit of justice, Teesta Setalvad testified before the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, raising awareness about the BJP-led government’s role in the Gujarat riots. For her relentless efforts in defending human rights and promoting communal harmony, she received the prestigious Nuremberg International Human Rights Award in 2003.
Teesta’s work and activism have often faced opposition and controversies. Recently, she was detained by the Gujarat Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) in Mumbai, allegedly in connection to a case related to providing false information to the Special Investigation Team regarding the 2002 Gujarat riots. Notably, her arrest occurred soon after the Indian Supreme Court acquitted Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other officials of their alleged complicity in the communal riots.
Teesta Setalvad’s life and work continue to be a subject of interest and debate in India, where she remains a prominent figure advocating for social justice and human rights. Her dedication to combating communalism and promoting civil rights has made a lasting impact on the country’s public life and continues to inspire those fighting for a more just and inclusive society.