New Delhi – A report by a civil rights group at Jamia Milia Islamia University, Jamia Teachers Solidarity Association, (JTSA), framed after the 2008 Batla House encounter, has dug holes in the official narrative of terror cases pursued by the Special Cell of Delhi Police. Titled, Framed, Damned And Acquitted, the Dossiers Of A Very Special Cell, the report was released here on Wednesday.
Noted civil rights advocate, Justice Rajender Sachar, who was present at the event attended by nearly 300 students, activists and academics called on the Congress government to answer some serious questions on its conduct.
He emphasized this was a clear distortion of law and rights of those individuals falsely implicated by the state and its agencies.
Calling on the civil society to take up the fight for the rights of ordinary citizens, Justice Sachar sought strong punitive action against the erring officials. Not a single officer in any of the operations described in the report has suffered criminal proceedings for the framing of innocents, he said.
Writer and activist, Arundhati Roy, another speaker at the event, without mincing words said that at times she does not see any hope in the Indian state and its institutions. She blamed the neo-liberal market policies of the country for this mess. She saw a link between the Babri Masjid incident and the opening up of Indian market and said whether these policies which have made the government a natural ally of the US and Israel were perhaps pointing to the way Indian government too had pursued the global war on terror especially targeting the Muslims and also the Adivasis and others opposed to the policies of the state in the name of fighting left wing extremism.
Interestingly, the report speaks about the manner in which the Delhi Police Special Cell went about terming several youngsters as terrorists, but were unable to defend their charges in the court of law. It deals with 16 cases, of which 11 accused are from Kashmir. The cases were registered between 1992 and 2008 and each one of them resulted in an acquittal for want of evidence. In some cases it was also stated that the evidence had been tampered with.
Here are some case studies:
Farooq Ahmed and 16 others were picked up in 1996 in connection with a car blast at Lajpat Nagar. In this case four of them were acquitted. Those acquitted include Mirza Iftiqar Hussain, Latif Ahmed Waza, Syed Maqbool Shah and Abdul Gani.
It was alleged by the police that 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 meant 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 as the involvement of Hussain and Waza could not be established. It was also found that the delivery of Rs 1 lakh took place on June 16, well after incident had occurred. There was also no evidence to prove that what was recovered from Maqbool’s house belonged to Farooq.
In 2010, Farooq and Farida Dar were found guilty of making phone calls claiming responsibility for the blast, but they were released as they had already served their jail term.
The case against Ayaz Ahmed Shah was that he had confessed he was part of the Hizb-e-Islami outfit in Kashmir. He was picked up in 2004 at the Metro Station in Delhi on the charge that he was waiting for a youngster to deliver explosives and hawala money.
However, there was no public witness and the statements made by the witness produced by the police were found to be contradictory in nature. Moreover, the police were unable to ascertain if 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 said that they had recovered cash and explosives based on his confessions.
The court, however, suspected tampering of the forensic 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 on July 2, 2005, 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 produced did not stand on various counts. It was found that the registration of the car was done months after the incident. The court in its verdict held that four police officers had fixed these youngsters at the behest of Major Sharma of the Military Intelligence. Sharma was trying to get Dar to work for him and when he refused the 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 Abu Tahir. They were picked up in 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. Also, the claim of the police that they were in a bus on the said day was dismissed when the conductor testified against the claim. The ticket chart also did not mention their names.
In March 2005, the police arrested Hamid Hussain, Mohammad Shariq, Iftekhar Ahsan Malik, Maulana Dilawar Khan, Masood Ahmed, Haroon Rashid from Delhi and Dehradun. The charge was that Hussain was a Lashkar operative who had visited Kashmir to get arms. It was also stated that as per their confessions they were planning to attack the Indian Military Academy at Dehradun.
However, in court, the police were unable to link Hussain’s involvement.
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. There was nothing to show that he was a wanted accused.
Imran Ahemd was arrested on the charge that he was the brother of a Lashkar operative Khali, and was helping in facilitating an operation. The court 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 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 held that there was not a single witness to his arrest. The police claimed they reached Pampore police station in Jammu and Kashmir and then went to Khadawala chowk, where they checked passing vehicles and arrested Khurshid, all between 4.30 and 5 pm. The court, however, found the claim of doing so much in 30 minutes bogus.
Mukhtar Ahmed Khan was arrested from Azadput on June 12, 2007, on the charge that he was a Lashkar operative staying in a hotel in Delhi. The police said he had contacts of top Lashkar leaders on his phone and had also been to Kashmir to collect explosives.
But the prosecution was unable to prove that the phone belonged to him. The Delhi police had also claimed that he had disappeared despite being under the radar. The court questioned the police as to how this 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,” Sethi said.
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