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Charges against Mallika Sarabhai false, says Sahmat

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI OCT. 27. The Delhi-based anti-communalism group, Sahmat, said in a statement today that the Gujarat administration was after the actress and danseuse, Mallika Sarabhai, as she had taken efforts to help the victims of last year's violence.

A case of cheating had been filed against Ms. Sarabhai by a member of a dance troupe that was to perform abroad, but failed to get visas.

The statement said the charges were false and were being used "as political vendetta" by the State Government and the police.

Ms. Sarabhai had acted strictly in accordance with the terms of the contract that the troupe members had signed with the Darpan Academy.

On the basis of the compliant filed against her, the academy had been subject to an inquiry four months ago but nothing was found to support the allegations.

The statement said the timing of the case filed against Ms. Sarabhai was designed to "stifle a voice that is seeking justice for the victims of communal violence".

Ms. Sarabhai had, along with others, filed an appeal in the Supreme Court demanding proper compensation and justice for the victims of last year's carnage.

The appeal is coming up for hearing.

A separate public appeal by eminent citizens has asked people to speak up for Ms. Sarabhai, saying that not to do so "at this moment is to allow unchallenged sway to the forces of fascism ruling Gujarat today".

The appeal is signed by, among others, scholars such as Prabhat Patnaik, Irfan Habib, Rajmohan Gandhi, Asghar Ali Engineer, the former Rajya Sabha members, Kuldeep Nayyar and actress Shabana Azmi, artistes Javed Akhtar, Vivan Sundaram and Ram Rehman, theatre and film personalities Vijay Tendulkar and Mahesh Bhatt, journalists B.G. Verghese and Teesta Setelvad, and Valson Thampu and Joseph D' Souza, representatives of Christian organisations .

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