Last week, an Indian appeal court acquitted Iranian-born British citizen Narges Kalbasi Ashtari, 28. She was convicted in 2014 for negligence resulting in the death of a child.
In 2014, her foundation organised a picnic, during which six children were swept away while bathing in a river. Five of the children were rescued, but one was feared drowned. His body was never recovered. The state Hindu leaders accused Narges of throwing the boy in the river. She spent one year in jail for not paying bribes demanded by the local police.
Narges known as Iranian Mother Teresa has lived in Britain, Canada and Sri Lanka. Narges established her NGO Prishan Foundation in Vancouver, Canada, in 2009. In 2011, she was invited by of an Indian NGO known as ASSIST to help build an orphanage in Mukundapur village of Rayagada district in Odisha state (formerly Orissa).
Once the orphanage building was completed, the Indian NGO began to give Narges hard time as result of her complaint that land documents in her named were forged by ASSIST.
“I am going through the most horrific forms of abuse by a group of people with immense power, influence, and protection in Odisha,” she told Iranian Mehr News in an interview.
Nergas is not the only victim of Hindutva fascism. In 2011, Niyamat Ansari, a Muslim advocate for the safeguarding of worker’s right in the Indian locality of Jerua, was kidnapped by a group of armed men. Ansari, like Narges, had also been involved in highlighting corruption among state’s officials. The kidnappers beat Ansari to death.
Iran’s foreign minister Dr. Javad Zarif had congratulated Nergas of having acquitted of all charges of negligence, and hailed her patience and perseverance, as well as the efforts of Iranian officials and popular campaigns in support of her.
Odisha state has large deposits of diamond, coal, chromite, nickel, mineral sand, graphite, et. However, a majority of its 42 million residents live below national poverty level ($2 per day).