Terror trials- Special courts not the answer

Pic: http://redbarricade.blogspot.in/
Pic: http://redbarricade.blogspot.in/

Repealing the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA)and passing an anti-torture bill consonant with the Convention against Torture would have a more durable impact on malicious prosecutions than providing ‘legal aid’ or setting up special courts, according to rights groups.

The Jamia Teachers’s Solidarity Association in a report states that the Home Ministry mulling on providing legal aid to those facing ‘doubtful’ terror charges. First, one doubts the seriousness of even this limited claim, given that in March this year the Minorities Affairs Minister had presented a letter from the Home Minister which purportedly supported the Minorities Ministry’s proposal for special courts for Muslim terror accused, only for the Home Minister to distance himself from the letter later.

Continue reading “Terror trials- Special courts not the answer”

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Batla verdict- AIMMM unhappy

There were many organizations that had stated that the Batla House Encounter was fake. Today after the verdict they say that they stand by their demand of seeking a higher judicial inquiry into the matter.

Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan, President, All India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat, New Delhi tells rediff.com that, it is too early to comment. We do not know in detail what the judgment

really says. The judge has convicted one person who is claimed to have fled from the L-18 flat in Batla House area. The building has only one exit which was manned by police people; there is no possibility to escape by jumping. Anyone attempting that would only break his bones.

Continue reading “Batla verdict- AIMMM unhappy”

Expand definition of sexual offences

Pic: jezebel.com
Pic: jezebel.com

There have been many recommendations that have been made to the Justice Verma Commission which is looking to strengthen the laws on rape. The Justice Verma Commission which was set up to suggest amendments to the sexual violence law has been looking into the various recommendations from different quarters.

Manisha Sethi, President of the Jamia Teachers Solidarity Association, a civil rights group of University teachers based in Delhi has made the following recommendations to the Justice Verma Commission. Continue reading “Expand definition of sexual offences”

Is the UAPA amendment as draconian as POTA, TADA?

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The proposed amendments to the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act has come under the scanner. Many feel that it is saddening and surprising that at a time when more and more evidence is surfacing about the extensive abuse of anti-terror laws in targeting minorities, tribals, deprived sections as well as political activists, the government has chosen to move amendments in the present UAPA 2008. These amendments will make the law even more draconian and amenable to human rights violations, rights activists say. Continue reading “Is the UAPA amendment as draconian as POTA, TADA?”

Framed, Damned and Acquitted

Framed, Damned and Acquitted-Dossiers of Very Special Cell is an interesting report which speaks about the manner in which the Delhi Police Special Cell went about terming several youth as terrorists, but were unable to defend the same in the court of law.
Prepared by the Jamia Milia Islamia University, this report deals with 16 cases in which there are 11 youth from Kashmir. These cases were booked between the years 1992 and 2008 and each one of them resulted in an acquittal for the want of proper evidence and in some cases it was also stated that the evidence had been tampered with.

Here are the cases studies of some of the cases:

Farooq Ahmed and 16 others were picked up in the year 1996 in connection with the car blast at Lajpat Nagar. In this case four of them were acquitted. Those acquitted in the case were Mirza Iftiqar Hussain, Latif Ahmed Waza, Syed Maqbool Shah and Abdul Gani.
It was alleged by the police that a Waza was in possession of a Rs 2 note which was to be handed over to Hussain. The note was said to be a code for the delivery of Rs 1 lakh which was meant to be used for the blast. It was also the case of the Delhi police that Farooq’s clothes and a stepney of the car used in the blast were recovered from the house of Maqbool.
However in court the case fell apart and there was no involvement of either Hussan or Waza which was found. It was also found that he delivery of the Rs 1 lakh had taken place on June 16th after the entire incident had come to a close and there was also no evidence that the recovery that took place at Maqbool’s house belonged to Farooq. In the year 2010, Faqoor and Farida Dar were found guilty of making phone calls claiming responsibility for the blast, but they were released as they had served out their jail term.

The case against Ayaz Ahmed Shah was that he had confessed to be part of the Hizb-e-Islami outfit in Kashmir. He was picked up in the year 2004 at the Metro Station in Delhi on the ground that he was waiting for a youth to deliver explosives and hawala money.
However there was no public witness and the witness given by the police were found to be contradictory in nature. Moreover the police were unable to ascertain that he belonged to the outfit in question.

In the case against Arshad Malik it was alleged that he came to Delhi from Kashmir to collect funds. The police also stated that they had recovered cash and explosives based on his confessions.
The court however suspected tampering of the forensics report and also held that enlisting of independent witnesses had been left out by the police deliberately. While the first report stated that an AK-47 had been seized the recovery memo mentions the weapon as an AK-56.

Saqib Rehman, Ahmed Shah, Nazir Ahmed, Moinuddin Dar, Bashir, Abdul Majid Bhat, Abdul Qayoom Khan and Birender Kumar Singh were arrested July 2, 2005 were arrested after a chase by the police on the Delhi-Jaipur highway. It was alleged that they were ferrying a consignment of arms.
In this case, the evidence did not stand on various counts. It was found that the registeration of the car was done months after the incident. The court in its verdict held that four police officers had fixed these youth at the behest of Major Sharma of the military intelligence. Sharma was trying to get Dar to work for him and when he refused this case was built up.

The case of the police against Gulzar Ganai and Amin Hajam a government employee was that they were closely associated with a Lashkar-e-Tayiba operative by the name ABu Tahir. They were picked up in the year 2006 and it was stated that they were in Delhi to supply arms and ammunition. A sum of Rs 6 lakh was also recovered.
During the testimony before the court, the witness stated that the two had been arrested much earlier than what was shown and it amounted to illegal detention. Moreover the claim of the police that they were in a bus that day was also turned out when the conductor testified that they were not on that bus. Moreover the ticket chart also does not mention anything.

In the month of March, year 2005, the police arrested Hamid Hussain, Mohammad Shariq, Iftekhar Ahsan Malik, Maulana Dilawar Khan, Masood Ahmed, Haroon Rashid from Delhi and Dehradun. The charge against them was they Hamid was a Lashkar operative who had visited Kashmir to get arms. It was also stated that as per their confession they were planning to attack the Indian Military Academy at Dehradun.
However in court the police were unable to link Hussain with the incident.

Tariq Dhar was picked up by the Bangladesh Rapid Action Battalion on charges that he was an agent with the Research and Analysis Wing. Dar was then sent to New Delhi and he was picked up by the Delhi Special Cell. It was alleged that he was aiding a commander of the Lashkar in Dhaka.
In the court the police filed a discharge application against him and also there was nothing to show that he was a wanted accused.

Imran Ahmed was arrested on the charge that he was the brother of a Lashkar operative Khali and was helping in facilitating an operation. The court however did not find any evidence and it also held that there was a contradiction in the statements made by the police. It was also held that he was carrying money with him to buy a house in Delhi and not for a terror strike.

In the case of Khurshid Ahmed Bhatt it was alleged that he was named by a Jaish-e-Mohammad operative. In the year 2008 when he was arrested he was a juvenile. The police said they had recovered a Jaish Id card and also some arms.
The court however held that there was not a single witness to the arrest. Moreover the claim by the police that they reached the Pampore police station and then went to Khadawala Chown where the the Jammu and Kashmir police checked passing vehicles, and arrested Khurshid, all between 4.30 pm and 5 pm. Court found the claims of doing so much in 30 minutes was a bogus claim.

Mukhthar Ahmed Khan was arrested from Azadput on June 12 2007 on the charge that he was a Lashkar operative staying a hotel in Delhi. The police said that he had the contacts of top Lashkar leaders and also had been to Kashmir to collect explosives.
In the court the prosecution was unable to prove that the phone belonged to him. Moreover the Delhi police had claimed that he had disappeared despite being under the radar and the court questioned the police as to how this had happened.

Manisha Sethi of the Jamia Milia Islamia University says the report suggests that the police stand exposed before the court of law. We worked on the cases of absolute acquittal and our team compiled records of court proceedings and also got some information through the RTI.

Will you say sorry to us or is it just SRK?

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When someone like Sharukh Khan is detained for a couple of hours there is a hue and cry in the media and not to mention the number of times that the Government of India seeks an apology.

But, what about those 100s of youth who have been illegally detained, tortured for no fault of theirs’? These youth who have been branded terrorists, condemned and then released for want of evidence would also like an apology so that they would feel wanted by the system.

Here is a case study of three persons who have been through hell. They are unable to re-start their lives and in such an event each one has this to say, “ we wish the government would at least tender an apology to us for the wrong that has been done to us.

Manisha Sethi of the Jamia Teacher’s Solidarity Association says these youth have waited for an apology for the wasted years, for the stigma, loss of dignity and the torture that they have undergone. The Indian government has rejected the ‘mechanical apology’ being offered by the US for detaining the super star Shahrukh Khan at the airport for 90 minutes too long. The US Deputy Chief of Mission has been summoned, and institutional mechanisms to ensure that there is no repeat of such an incident. Now, may we ask the hyper active and sensitive Indian government to tender apologies—and genuine apology please, not a mechanical one—for detaining (illegally), incarcerating, torturing—in short, destroying and tearing apart the lives of hundreds of its own citizens in supposedly fighting terror.

Mohammad Amir Khan:

Mohammad Amir Khan spent half his life in prison before the case against him fell out as there was no evidence against him. Would someone say a sorry to him for a lost childhood, for his grief-crazed mother’s paralysis, for his heartbroken father’s early death, for his broken, crumbling home.

Khan spent 14 years in jail in connection with 20 cases of bomb blasts. A resident of Azad Market in New Delhi he was picked up on February 20 1998 in connection with 20 cases of bomb blasts. Today he has been acquitted in 17 cases while one case of life imprisonment has been over turned by the Delhi High Court while two other cases are in appeal.

Those years in jail have not only had a bearing on him, but his entire family as well. His father Hashim Khan died of a heart attack after battling to prove that his son is innocent. Ironically when he returned home after his acquittal, his mother was barely able to recognise him as she suffered a brain haemorrhage and also a paralytic stroke.

The acquittal may have come by, but life will never be the same. He is still afraid of a witch hunt by the police and he prefers to spend most of his time at home since he fears that the cops may try and fix him once again. He is relying heavily on members of his community to find some work and to be rehabilitated.

Syed Maqbool Shah:

Syed Maqbool Shah, had to spend 14 years in a high security prison because the Delhi police falsely claimed recovering the tyre of the stolen car used in the Lajpat Nagar blasts in 1996. In 2010, the courts pronounced Shah innocent. By then all that was left of his life could be bundled in a small pouch: his mercy petition, copies of handwritten letters addressed to all chief ministers of Jammu & Kashmir since 1996, Union home ministers and the International Committee of Red Cross pleading for justice, his jail diaries and a passport size passport photo of 17-year-old Shah, about the time he was arrested.

He was arrested on 21 May 1996 and sent to the Tihar jail. Today is out and is 32 years old wondering where exactly to make a start in life. He carries with him today diaries which detail his sufferings in jail and hopes to publish this soon. Shah was in Delhi with his brothers at the time the blasts took place. There was a raid and he was picked up. He was studying in class 12 at the time of the incident. Little did he realise that he would spend the next 14 years in jail facing charges of terrorism and under the Indian Explosives Act. After a marathon battle filled with anxiety and grief he was finally declared innocent. The joy of being released was shadowed by the death of his father and sister who fought all the while to prove his innocence. He says that right after being released he left to the grave yard where his family members were buried and such was the irony.

He wants justice, rehabilitation and at least an apology. However that does not look like it is going to happen. When he contacted the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir and also the Home Department, he was told that they were unaware of his case. No one can compensate this loss, but at least he says he wants to live in dignity and should get at least a government job so that he can support himself.

Shakeel Ahmed Khan:

Shakeel Ahmed Khan spent six years in jail after being booked under TADA for conspiring to assassinate BJP leaders M M Joshi and former Jammu and Kashmir Governor Jagmohan. His family was reduced to penury and survived by donations from a local shrine.

The police claimed at that time that he had planned the assassination of Murali Manohar Joshi and former Jammu and Kashmir Governor, Jagmohan.

Khan originally from the Valley had come down to Delhi in search of work. He was 31 then. Just upon landing in Delhi he was picked up by the police and charges under the Explosives Act were slapped against him and six others. All he could do under detention was cry for his innocence and each time he did that he was only tortured more.

Then there were these court cases for which he sat and hoped for justice. Finally after years of battle justice came by. All though his ordeal in jail his wife and children had been living off the relief money which was granted to them by a local shrine. However this was just not enough and he weeps like a child when he says that his family ate just one meal a day. Today life is limping back to normal, but the damage has already been done. Will he get an apology from the government? Well that is a million dollar question.

These are just a few cases. Manisha Sethi asks who will pay for the three years lost in solitary cells of the 11 men from Rajasthan for allegedly furthering the SIMI. While the Andhra Pradesh government has channelized funds of Mecca Masjid administration by way of compensation to some of those wrongfully implicated in the Masjid bombings, an apology is still not forthcoming.

Dozens of those falsely implicated by the Special Cell of Delhi: Saquib Rehman, Bashir Ahmed Shah, Nazir Ali Sofi, Ghulam Moinuddin Dar, Abdul Majid Bhat, Abdul Qayoom Khan, Birender Singh (spent over 5 and a half years in jail before being acquitted in 2010); Imran Kirmani (spent 4 and a half years in prison); Gulzar Ahmed Ganai and Amin Hajam (3 years). All were accused of being ISI, Laskar e Tayiba or HuJI operatives and all were acquitted by the courts.

She further asks, “does anyone, anywhere in the machinery of our government ever feel any remorse when young men like Rashid Hussain are picked up for questioning in serial blasts and when their employers Infosys – otherwise the paragons of corporate social responsibility – refuse to let them return to their jobs?