UP: This terror never ends
For innocent Muslims, framed as terrorists in UP, neither Mayawati nor the ‘secular’ Congress-led UPA brought justice. Will Akhilesh Yadav fulfil his promise and turn this tide of brazen injustice?
Pradeep Kapoor Lucknow
Human rights activists, social scientists and intellectuals in Uttar Pradesh have urged the Akhilesh Yadav-led government to free all ‘innocent’ Muslims held in various jails for more than a decade on charges of involvement in terrorist activities. They have sought to remind the new UP chief minister that the Samajwadi Party’s (SP) election manifesto, too, had promised to release those ‘innocent’ Muslims who have been jailed on bogus ‘terror’ charges. Besides seeking the party's fulfilment of that promise, they have asked for compensation and jobs for the unjustly incarcerated youth, to help them start their lives afresh.
The young chief minister has also been urged to set up a high-level commission to investigate all cases of terror activities, and punish police officials found guilty of involvement in implicating innocent Muslim youths. The former vice-chancellor of Lucknow University, Roop Rekha Verma, Magsaysay award-winner Sandeep Pande, human rights activist Arundhati Dhuru, and prominent lawyers Randhir Singh Suman and Mohd Soyab, who fought the cases of imprisoned Muslim youths, held a meeting in Lucknow on April 11 to discuss the issue. That it is a contentious issue can be seen in the brutish manner Suman and Soyab were earlier assaulted by Hindu fundamentalists in Barabanki and Lucknow for legitimately taking up cases of Muslim youths accused of involvement in the court blasts cases. Surely, all Indian citizens can avail
of the legal process of judicial trial, and no accused is held guilty unless proved so.
Those at the meeting welcomed the initiative of Akhilesh Yadav to withdraw cases against Tariq Qasmi and Khalid Mujahid, both from Azamgarh district – crudely branded as ‘Atankgarh’ by a biased media – who were implicated in the 2007 serial blasts on court premises across UP. According to fact-finding reports by civil society organizations, the two were first ‘abducted’ by the Special Task Force (STF) of the UP police, and were shown to have been arrested at least a week later, at places far away from where they were picked up.
If the state government decides to withdraw more fake cases of terror like this specific case, it would come as a relief to the hounded minority community, completely alienated by the organized process of injustice. The ‘secular’ Congress-led government in Delhi has not helped one bit – despite Digvijay Singh’s rhetoric and posturing, or Salman Khurshid’s electoral stunt about Sonia Gandhi’s tears flowing over the Batla House case. The Centre refused to even institute a judicial inquiry into the Batla House incident– widely believed to be a ‘fake encounter’ – also involving young boys from Azamgarh.
Human rights activist Rajiv Yadav said there were bomb blasts on court premises in Lucknow, Varanasi and Faizabad on November 23, 2007. The STF picked up Tariq Qasmi on December 12 from Azamgarh and Khalid Mujahid four days later, on December 16, from Madiyaon, Lucknow. But both were shown to have been arrested on December 22 in connection with the blast on the Barabanki court premises.
Following large-scale agitation and protests, the Mayawati-led government appointed a retired judge, Justice RD Nimesh, to head a commission to look into all aspects of the explosions. The government gave clear instructions that the commission’s report should be submitted within six months, but nothing of the sort happened. No report has been submitted to the government as yet.
Aftab Alam Ansari, another person arrested in the court blasts case, was released for lack of evidence. Sajjadurehman of Kashmir, an accused in the Lucknow and Faizabad blast cases, was exonerated for want of proper evidence.
“Human rights activists are upset over the apathy of the central government towards getting an inquiry done into the Batla House ‘encounter’ on September 19, 2008 in which two young men from Azamgarh were killed and named as members of Indian Mujahideen,” said Rajiv Yadav. The other imprisoned boys are currently in Gujarat, implicated in ‘other’ cases, mostly false, according to the Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association, Delhi.
People in UP have not forgotten how the SP’s previous regime had supported the prosecution’s theory about the attack on the Rampur CRPF camp. “On December 31, 2007, a few jawans in this CRPF camp opened fire after consuming liquor – a gross act of indiscipline in which six people were killed. To hide this act of indiscipline, the firing incident was called a ‘terror attack’. And, using this incident, Kausar Farooqui, Mohd Sharif, Jung Bahadur Khan, Gulab Khan, Sabauddin Ahmed and Fahim Ansari are still lodged in various UP jails,” Rajiv Yadav also said. (Fahim Ansari was also accused as an Indian handler of Pakistani terrorists involved in the 26/11 Mumbai attack– he was acquitted for lack of evidence.) Activists argue that the Rampur firing had nothing to do with terrorism. They demand, besides release of the arrested youth, a CBI probe.
‘On December 31, 2007, jawans in the Rampur CRPF camp opened fire after consuming liquor. To hide this indiscipline, the incident was called a terror attack’
Citing another case from Rajiv Nagar in Kanpur, RajivYadav said that when two activists of the Bajrang Dal, an integral part of the RSS-BJP-led Sangh Parivar, were killed while making bombs, Sri Prakash Jaiswal, a Union minister, had asked for a CBI probe. Mayawati, too, had said that the Centre should get the CBI to probe the court blasts cases and the ‘terror attack’ on Rampur CRPF camp – but nothing moved. Why? Now, intellectuals like Roop Rekha Verma and human rights activists are demanding investigations into all such cases.
The question is, will Akhilesh carve a new trajectory of impartiality, truth and justice, or will he follow the insensitive path of Mayawati and the Congress-led regime in Delhi, tacitly and openly on the side of injustice?
Rajiv Yadav pointed out that there are numerous similar cases. Azizur Rahman is lodged in Lucknow jail. The dates of incidents shown by the police in his case are telling. The police claimed that Aziz came to Lucknow with two ‘accomplices’ on June 22, 2007, but when they saw on TV that another ‘accomplice’, Jalaluddin, had been arrested, they fled to Kolkata the very next day. On June 24, they were all arrested by a police team that had allegedly picked up their trail and was relentlessly pursuing them.
Ironically, in the remand order of Azizur Rahman, passed by the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Alipore, West Bengal, on June 22, 2007, it is recorded that Rahman was in the custody of SOG/CID of West Bengal over June 22-26, 2007. Now, the UP police has to explain how it managed to show a person in the custody of CID, West Bengal Police, as present in Lucknow with his ‘accomplices’?
Roop Rekha Verma told Hardnews, “It is very disturbing that innocent persons from a particular community are being targetted and arrested in the name of terror. I had attended a public hearing on several terror-related cases from all over the country, where it was found that 80 per cent of the arrests are bogus. Even where the involvement of Hindutva terror outfits like Abhinav Bharat has been established, many Muslims arrested in those cases are still behind bars. This might end up stoking anger in the community, which could destroy India’s nation-building efforts.”
She claimed she has information about the families of all those who have been arrested in such ‘terror’ cases, and acquitted after spending several years in jail. “After their release from jail, most of them were shattered mentally and physically. It is the duty of the government to provide them adequate compensation and ensure their proper rehabilitation,” she said.
The UP Police has to explain how it managed to show a person in the custody of CID, West Bengal Police, as present in Lucknow with his ‘accomplices’
But the question remains, with no hope from the UPA regime, and with Mayawati having decisively betrayed them, will Akhilesh Yadav give justice to this huge constituency of Indian citizens?