Geelani on life after the Parliament attack


Prof SAR Geelani. Photo credit: IBNLive

Ten years have passed since the Indian Parliament was attacked. The case has been discussed debated and there are several answered and unanswered questions regarding this case. One would clearly also remember the case of Professor Syed Abdul Rehman Geelani who was first booked, convicted and later acquitted by the Supreme Court of India. He spent 20 months in jail and was a victim of POTA before the Supreme Court acquitted him.
Professor Geelani has gone about his life after this nightmare which he faced. However life has changed a full cycle for him. In this interview with rediff.com, Professor Geelani speaks about a range of issues concerning this attack and adds that today he is a known face in the country and the reasons for this is just not right.

How has life changed after this incident?

Life has become very difficult after the incident. I was a common man who could roam around everywhere. Today I feel restricted and I am constantly watched. Despite my name being cleared, I am identified each time this subject comes up. This image has been fixed in the minds of the people and I have to live with it everyday.

Why do you think this is the case?

Unfortunately in this country, if someone is accused things are blown out to such a proportion that it becomes difficult for normalcy to return in that persons life. Even an acquittal would not do and the media continues to show that person as an accused each time the incident is spoken about. Worse when the person is acquitted the media does not show enough to ensure that the person’s name is cleared. The acquittal comes after several years and the people too are not told what the real truth is. Hence the earlier image sticks in their mind and this is applicable in my case as well.

How did you cope with the situation?

It was not easy at all. I was branded as the master mind of the Parliament attack. I had various questions to answer and the burden of several charges on my head. I would really thank my family and friends who stood by me as they knew I was innocent. I would specially thank Ram Jethmalani for all the help he gave me in this case. All these persons put a lot at stake while supporting me. They have lost out a lot but they never gave up on me.

Why do you think you were charged in the first place?

After the incident, the police were groping in the dark. They had to show results but did not know who the real culprit was. They were desperate to link this attack with Kashmir and needed some faces desperately. Hence they projected me as the mastermind. I was a known face in Delhi, I was a human rights defender and had organized many meetings regarding Kashmir. Moreover I was well placed in the Delhi university. They found me to an easy target and hence made me the mastermind in this attack.

What do you make out of the case that was built up after this attack.

This attack was an embarrassment. However looking at the investigation, I would say nothing is clear. The essence of democracy is missing and the people are not asking any questions. Till date no one really knows who was behind this attack. We have prepared white papers, raised questions and even questioned the government. But they do not have the answers. No body knows who really attacked Parliament. It is said that those persons who were killed were Pakistanis. The court says these were Pakistanis as no one has claimed their bodies. There are many such photographs of people in the police stations whose bodies have not been claimed. Can you just jump to a conclusion on the basis of that?

Are you saying there was an inner hand?

No harm in exploring it. India had already stationed heavy troops accros the border giving the impression that the country would go to war. The kind of situation that was created gave the impression that something was known much in advance.

Now over to the Afzal Guru case. What are your thoughts?

Go through the judgment on Afzal Guru and you will realize that there has been miscarriage of justice. For him the case started off itself on a very bad note. He could not afford a good lawyer and he had written to the court about the same. However a junior lawyer was appointed and despite him protesting, he never got proper legal help. Afzal had said that he felt that the lawyer being given to him was biased. The court however said that this lawyer would only assist the court. Afzal was finally handed out a death sentence on the basis of his so called confessional statement. Signatures from him were obtained by force and the police wrote what they wanted. Even the judgment says that the conviction was based on circumstantial evidence. It is also said that he had identified the bodies of the slain terrorists. He protested that this was untrue and the confession was forced. The court then told him that he could cross examine the witnesses. Do you think that someone like Afzal with no expertise what so ever can conduct a cross examination in a case of such high profile nature?

So, you feel that Kashmir will burn if he is hanged?

It surely will and peace will be derailed. The people of Kashmir know that injustice has been meted out to him. Hence hanging him would create a big problem.

Terrorism has not stopped for sure. Do you abolishing hard laws is the reason.

No that is not the reason. In a democratic system these laws have no place. We never addressed the root cause of the problem of terrorism. The investigation agencies have never probed these cases seriously. They always do a hotch potch job. Look at Mecca Masjid, Samjautha among others. The police have always dealt with these cases with a closed mind and hence the problem is never solved. Moreover laws such as POTA and TADA have never been the answer to the problem. We had such laws and look at the way in which it was misused.
Moreover, the manner in which cases are investigated too have to be given a second look. The manner in which blasts are taking place and the investigation is being conducted, only makes me think that there is something fishy.

What about 26/11?

I have condemned the attack and the people who carried it out have no place in society. However this cannot be a justification for police to pick up innocents in every cases that occurs in our country.

Is there a solution to Kashmir?

There has to be a solution to the Kashmir problem. If they maintain status quo as they would prefer to then the people will continue to suffer.Unfortunately in the Kashmir issue, the government has lied to the people and kept them in the dark. They don’t allow others also to tell them the truth. Status quo is not the solution. Look at the kind of money that is being spent on this issue. Is it worth it?

Which according to you is a better government-The UPA or the NDA

Both according to me have failed in addressing the problems. It is not about change of guard at the centre. Change in policies need to take place and in the case of both these governments, the policies have remained the same. Look at the manner in which the IB is functioning. I have faced the IB and they have been communal in nature.

One thought on “Geelani on life after the Parliament attack

  1. What most in Kashmir don’t say loud is, while Afzal Guru may not have been the Kingpin of this, he was certainly involved with shady people. He supported terrorists through various acts. Even the staunchest supporter of Afzal Guru’s clemency doesn’t deny this fact.

    The folks who are supporting clemency for AG, are people with resources. If they truly felt the judicial process was unfair as AG didn’t receive fair representation, their chance was when he was given chance of appeals. They could’ve funded and convinced a top lawyer to represent him.

    Now, having run the due course of process of law, to question the process of law is like saying we should just disband our courts, because they don’t follow an acceptable process.

    Sorry – This is absurd. Our courts rarely find enough evidence convict anybody! When thay have we want the executive to overturn it for political expediency?

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