While probing cases of terrorism, investigators have gone wrong several times. Take the acquittal of over 30 youth from Hyderabad in the Mecca Masjid case, the case of Abdul Sammad from Bhatkal and very recently the 22 year old Javed Ali from Ullal in Karnataka.
More often than not such arrests have flared up tempers of the various communities and at the end of it the real terrorists always end up getting away scot free.
Abdul Sammad who was picked up at the Mangalore airport in connection with the German Bakery case was later released. The Home Minister who had initially congratulated the ATS for this arrest later changed his statement and said that investigators need to urge caution.
Police officers who investigate such cases say that there is too much pressure on them to crack cases in a hurry and more often than not, the lack of time is what leads to such mistakes. Intelligence agencies however point out that their job is to provide the leads and it is the police who need to work on the case and build up a strong case. They speak about actionable intelligence, but the IB or the RAW cannot spoon feed the police with specifics all the time. Prosecutors point out that it is very difficult defending such cases since more often than not the charges are extremely flimsy in nature. It is not sufficient if the police come up and say that the youth were found with jihadi material. There is a need to substantiate the claim. Also there is very heavy reliance on the interrogation reports which again is never a legal document which the court would accept. The courts never take into consideration IRs since more often than not statements are issued under duress. The police will need to work on these leads and then submit proof before the court.
The case of Javed Ali too is a similar one. The police picked him up on the suspicion that he had sheltered Riyaz Bhatkal, the man termed as the founder of the Indian Mujahideen. He spent two and half years in jail before being released. However his father Mohammad Ali continues to remain in jail. The father and son were arrested from their residence at Mukkacheri in Ullal in the year 2008. The charge was that both had sheltered Riyaz Bhatkal. The other charge leveled was that both had gone to Bhatkal in 2006 to take part in a programme organized by Riyaz. Further the police also charged them with being in possession of banned literature. However on examination and during the course of arguments before the court it was found that the material was neither banned nor was it published by any terrorist outfit.
Investigating agencies have also been under fire several other times in the past as they have been accused of sleeping over intelligence inputs. The IB says that they do pick up the movements of some elements and pass on the information to the police. However these elements do manage to give the slip by the time the police wake up.
When such arrests termed as witch hunting take place, it becomes a bigger problem. Take the case of Hyderabad where scores of youth were picked up before being released. There is a section which has been angered due to police atrocity and there is a good chance of some of them turning into radicals.
The IB says that terror networks tend to target such youth and on several ocassions they do fall prey. The case of Riazuddin Nasir is one such instance. He believed that he was fighting for the right cause when he protested the police firing post Mecca Masjid. He was however picked up by the police and his family too was tortured. However when he managed to get out of prison, he fell prey to the prying eyes of terror recruiters and very soon, he joined hands with the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and even readied himself to carry out a series of blasts in Goa.
Investigating cases relating to terrorism becomes a double edged sword for investigators. The information is very weak and the pressure to crack the case immense. This leads to a hurried job which at the end of it proves fatal to the case and one never gets to know the real picture at the end of it
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