As Shah, Fazili Walk Free, Questions Galore Over Wrongful Arrests

SRINAGAR: Questions are being raised on the way Delhi Police implicated two innocent Kashmiris who were set free from Tihar Jail after over 11 years a few days ago.

Mohammad Rafiq Shah and Mohammad Hussain Fazli, two youths from Kashmir, were acquitted on February 16 by a Delhi court that ruled the evidence against them was “fabricated and flimsy”.

Special Cell of Delhi Police had implicated in the pre-Diwali blasts in Delhi in 2005 that killed 67 people. However, on Thursday, the court set them free observing that prosecution failed to prove their guilt.

A serving Indian Police Service (IPS) officer has openly raised questions about the “type of policing” and “criminal justice system” under which two youths were made to spend over 11 years in jail before being acquitted of terror charges last week.

Satyendra Garg, who is joint secretary in charge of the Northeast, posted on hisFacebook page: “If you are in jail for more than 11 years for a crime which court finds you have not done, you must be sick of the system. I try to imagine the mental states of two persons arrested for 2005 Delhi blasts, who spent 11 long years in jail and now the court clears them of all charges, one wonders the type of policing we have, the type of criminal justice system we have where innocents can be made to spend as much as 11 years in jail.”

This is the first time a serving police officer as senior as Garg has spoken about the injustice meted out to youths implicated in terror cases on flimsy grounds or false charges.

Rafiq, a resident of Alesteng in Ganderbal district was in University of Kashmir attending classes at the time the police accused him of planting a bomb in a bus in Delhi. Fazli, a resident of Buchpora, Soura, was a shawl vendor in Srinagar.

When Kolkatta based The Telegraph contacted Garg, he said that like any right-thinking citizen, he was deeply disturbed by the realisation that two lives had been destroyed by wrongful arrests.

“The court acquitted the two youths who were booked by Delhi police for terror without evidence. It is very disturbing and a serious issue… a sad commentary on the criminal justice system and the way national security is handled,” Garg told The Telegraph. “If innocent people are booked on wrong charges, there is a dire need to correct this system. The security officials who investigated these cases should be made accountable. Inspector-level officers probe the cases, but they report to their superiors.”

A third accused, Tariq Ahmed Dar, was convicted. But he was found guilty of being allegedly a member of the Lashkar-e-Toiba and providing support to it, and not of masterminding the attack as alleged.

However, a De;hi court on Monday granted bail to Dar in a related “money laundering case”.

Dar has already spent more than 10 years in jail, the maximum punishment for his offence.

The newspaper reported that some officials in North Block, the seat of the home ministry, criticised Delhi police’s special cell that probes terror cases for making arrests in “haste” to please their bosses and grab gallantry medals.

“The government should order an inquiry against the investigators and their superiors in the intelligence agencies for implicating the two innocent youths without any evidence. The guilty officials should be criminally prosecuted,” a senior official said.

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