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Crafting an Image for Modi: Communalisation, Politicisation of Terror Investigations #NOMOre_2014

modi-hitler-2
Kavita Krishnan
In the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections 2014, several instances of
politically-motivated violence have been witnessed. The communal
violence at Muzaffarnagar, intended to sharpen communal polarisation
and consolidate the dominant and majority community in UP and
neighbouring states in favour of the BJP, is a prominent instance. In
Bihar, the murder of a young Muslim schoolteacher Akbar Khan followed
by the murder of CPI(ML) Liberation leader Budhram Paswan, have also
been used to serve a political purpose.
Following Comrade Budhram’s murder, feudal forces fired celebratory
shots in the air, aiming to terrorise the poor supporters of CPI(ML).
Following Akbar’s murder, there was a malicious attempt to spread a
rumour that he was killed because he cheered for Pakistan in a cricket
match. Fortunately the communal canard failed, because the young
Akbar, who used to teach poor children for free and organise actions
to keep the streets free of sexual harassment for schoolgirls, enjoyed
the affection and respect of local people of all communities.
As the elections unfold, it is disturbing to note a trend of
communalisation and politicisation of investigations. In the
month of March, there has been a concerted attempt by investigative
agencies and by sections of the media, to create an image of the BJP’s
PM candidate Narendra , as a leader who is the target of
terrorists and to foster suspicion and hatred against the minority
community as well. Following the arrest of 4 youths in Rajasthan
recently, the media carried many stories claiming – supposedly based
on ‘IB alerts’ that these four men were part of a terror plot against
Modi. The Delhi Police Special Cell that made the arrests chose to
hold a Press Conference about the arrests. What was the need for a
Press Conference in an ongoing investigation, when no substantial
facts are available? Such an exercise, in an election season, smacks
of a political motive.
In Bihar, the conduct of the NIA in the investigation of the Bodh Gaya
and Patna blasts, has reeked of shocking political bias as well as
rampant torture. The supposed investigation has rested on the
detention and torture of teenage boys, in an attempt to extract false
‘confessions,’ and the terrorisation and intimidation of an entire
community. 19-year old Aslam Parvez from Abgila village, Arwal
district, Bihar, has been held in NIA custody since March 5th. Papers
report that he has been produced in a Ranchi court on March 31st. His
father and other family members, who saw him in NIA custody in Delhi
testify to the fact that he had been severely tortured. In a blatant
display of political bias and intimidation, Aslam Parvez’s father
Maksood Alam was asked by the NIA why he would not vote for Modi!
Aslam Parvez’s cousin Irfan Ansari had been picked up on March 1st,
and tortured in NIA custody: in Jehanabad, he was stripped naked and
beaten on his legs and soles of the foot. In NIA custody in Delhi,
soap was put in his mouth, and his head was held under water
repeatedly. A chair was placed on his chest, and NIA personnel would
sit on the arms of the chair to create unbearable pressure on his
body. He put be placed in a room all night with no clothes on, with
the fan on. Irfan Ansari was told by the NIA – ‘We’ll ensure that no
Muslim from Arwal ever gets a government job.’ Several other young men
from Abgila village were also detained and interrogated by the NIA;
they were warned not to tell anyone about the torture.
The NIA Act is a draconian law under which an accused can be held in
police custody for 30 days, and further detained without charges for
180 days: the case of Aslam Parvez clearly shows that such powers are
a licence for extracting false confessions under torture.

The above facts emerged during a visit to Arwal by a team comprising
CPI(ML) Liberation and the Rihai Manch of UP, a platform of activists
and lawyers working to ensure that civil liberties are respected in
terror investigations.
The BJP candidate from Ara LS, RK Singh, has been saying in speeches
that as former Home Secretary, he is privy to knowledge that Modi is a
prime target for terrorists. NIA during interrogations, asks the
father of a detainee, why he doesn’t vote for Modi. The electoral
purpose of such unsubstantiated assertions and biased line of
questioning is obvious.
The political bias displayed by the NIA in Arwal further shows that
terror investigations seem to following a political script. Such
political bias and the use of torture, can never serve the cause of
the truth or identify the true perpetrators of terror attacks.
Communal Profiling in Terror Investigations:
Report from Abgila, Arwal, Bihar

A team comprising CPI(ML) leaders Dhirendra Jha, Kavita Krishnan, Mohd
Salim, Rajaram and  Mahanand, as well as senior advocates and
activists of Rihai Manch, Mohd Shoaib and Asad Hyatt, visited Abgila
village in Arwal district on March 31, 2014. Below, we summarise what
the team was told by people of the village:

NIA asks ‘Why won’t you vote for Modi?’
Maqsood Alam, father of 19-year old Aslam Parvez told the team that
his son has been held in NIA custody since March 5th. Alam had taken
his son to Karauna OP of Jehanabad after being informed by the police
to present himself there. In his presence, his son was beaten by the
NIA team and asked to confess to involvement in the blasts.
Subsequently, he was held in NIA custody in Delhi and papers reported
on April 1 that he was produced in a Ranchi court on March 31st and
that he has ‘confessed’ to involvement in the blasts.’
Maqsood Alam and other family members were told by the NIA to present
themselves in Delhi on the day of Holi. Alam saw his son in NIA
custody in Delhi, and according to him, ‘Aslam Parvez appeared crazed
by torture, talking incoherent rubbish. It was heartrending to see my
young son in this condition.’
Maqsood Alam himself was interrogated by the NIA. During interrogation
he was asked to which party he belonged, to which he replied ‘Maaley’
(CPIML Liberation is known in Bihar by this name). Asked ‘What’s
Maaley’, he replied ‘It’s Dipankarji’s party (Dipankar Bhattacharya is
the party General Secretary)’. To which an NIA interrogator asked him,
‘Why won’t you and your family support Modi, vote for Modi?’
Maksood Alam is a homoeopathic doctor; the NIA also tried to instigate
his landlord to evict his clinic from the premises.

Severe Torture, Threats and Intimidation of Entire Community

Aslam Parvez’s cousin Irfan Ansari had been picked up on March 1st,
and tortured in NIA custody. In Jehanabad, he was stripped naked and
beaten on his legs and soles of the foot. In NIA custody in Delhi,
soap was put in his mouth, and his head was held under water
repeatedly. A chair was placed on his chest, and NIA personnel would
sit on the arms of the chair to create unbearable pressure on his
body. He put be placed in a room all night with no clothes on, with
the fan on. Irfan Ansari said the NIA told him – ‘We’ll ensure that no
Muslim from Arwal ever gets a government job.’ Irfan has been selected
for the CRPF, and the NIA told him that they would ensure that he lost
his place.
Irfan was asked to confess to having introduced Aslam Parvez to some
‘Hyder’ and to have been in Gaya on the day of the Bodh Gaya blasts (7
July 2013). He had in fact travelled by train to Asansol via Dhanbad;
and the train passes through Gaya. However, he said he never alighted
at Gaya. He was shown photographs of persons and asked, under torture,
to identify them – but he was unable to do so.
Irfan was released and told that he would be interrogated again at a
later date.
During interrogation by the NIA in Delhi, Manzoor Alam was brought
face to face with Aslam Parvez, and the latter said to Manzoor, “We
met together at Gaya with Irfan and Hyder to plan the Bodh Gaya
blasts.” Manzoor Alam said that Aslam Parvez’s manner revealed that he
was under duress and severe torture.
Irfan’s brothers Rustom and Sohrab, Murtaza Ansari, Parvez Alam,
Sarfaraz, Sarfuddin and Naushad Alam are some of the other youth from
the village who have been summoned and interrogated by the NIA. There
is an atmosphere of palpable terror, with every youth living in the
village fears that he will be tortured and branded a terrorist.
The NIA Act is a draconian law under which an accused can be held in
police custody for 30 days, and further detained without charges for
180 days. For Aslam Parvez, this has meant that the NIA has the powers
to extract false confessions under torture.
The whole episode displays a disturbing trend of politicisation and
communalisation of terror investigations.

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