Two different cases of alleged police harassment in relation to terror accused, one languishing in jail and another released on bail, have sparked a sense of frustration and distrust in the Muslim community.
The Jamia Teacher’s Solidarity Association (JTSA) recently released a report ‘Framed, Damned, Acquitted: Dossiers of a Very Special Cell’ highlighting the plight of 16 Muslim youth who were arrested on various terror charges by the Delhi Special Cell and later acquitted by the court due to lack of evidence. Simultaneously, the tales of two other terror accused have aggravated this sense of anxiety within the community.
The tale of Abdul Razzaq alias Masood:
Abdul Razzaq alias Masood, one of the accused in Dilsukhnagar Sai Baba temple blast case, committed suicide at his house in Mehdipatnam on 10th October 2012. Being a native of Malapally, Nizamabad district, he was residing at Mehdipatnam in Hyderabad after being released on bail in 2007. In the suicide note which was found at the spot, he cited police harassment and slow proceedings as the reason behind his decision.
Speaking to Newzfirst, Khalid Saifullah, one of the defence counsels in the Sai Baba temple blast case said “I reached the spot immediately after the suicide took place. Although I did not get a chance to read the suicide note myself, the person (neighbour) who read the note to the police spoke to me and told me what was written in it”.
Recollecting the exact words told by the neighbour, he said “In the suicide note it was written – ‘I am undergoing intense police harassment since I have been released on bail… For more than 3 years I was in jail and since the last 4 years I am outside with many restrictions imposed, but my case is not moving towards any conclusion… The state police and the intelligence agencies are all harassing me; I want to make this known to everyone… I am innocent and have stayed in Jail; I don’t want to go again… I am also being implicated for Mumbai blasts… I advise all the youths who are booked under false cases to never surrender to the police… I want to make this known to everyone, so I am committing suicide…”
While his father said “My son can never commit suicide”, the post-mortem report is eagerly awaited.
“There is no question of him committing suicide. Only the police knows how he died, but he cannot commit suicide; this much I know and I can say,” said Muqeet (brother of Abdul Razzaq) who is also a corporator in Nizamabad, while speaking to Newzfirst.
“The police have carried out many fake encounters till now. The Batla house encounter is the best example for you; it not difficult for them to finish him off in this manner,” Muqeet said in frustration.
“It is not the question of one person committing suicide, there may be many others in peril. The question is – why does a person end up taking this decision even when his religion strictly prohibits it. It is a strategy of the police to implicate one person with so many cases that even if he is acquitted in one of them, he is still under immense pressure because of the other pending cases. The law and order situation in this country continues to fail us,” said Khalid Saifullah.
Abdul Razzaq’s case 835/2002 was registered at Saroor Nagar police station and investigation was carried out by Criminal Investigation Department (CID). Dated 21 November 2002, the charge sheet filed against him includes charges under sections 302, 307, 153A and 120B of Indian Penal Code (IPC), sections 3, 4 and 5 of Explosive Substances Act (ESA) and section 3 (3) of Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA).
“During the blast in 2002, my brother was in Dubai. He did not even know that he was accused in the case. When he went to renew his passport in Dubai, they said that there is a case against his name and he will have to go to the Indian Embassy in Delhi. So he came here to surrender and get his passport renewed. When he arrived here, the police arrested him from the airport but they said that he was found with explosives at a house in Delhi,” Muqeet said.
“Out of the ten accused in this case, two have died in alleged fake encounters by the police,” said advocate Khalid.
Disheartened over the slow and unresponsive criminal justice system in India, when asked whether the family was planning any further legal action, Muqeet said “We are planning to take a legal action but I am not too hopeful. Even if we go to court and demand an investigation into the matter, the court will hand over the charge to police which will never probe impartially against itself”.
The tale of Tariq Qasmi:
On 1st October, Tariq Qasmi, a terror accused languishing in Lucknow jail, had written a letter to his counsel saying that he and other inmates have no option other than committing suicide.
“I am also a human and an innocent patriotic citizen, who has been falsely accused of terrorism under some nefarious conspiracies. Frustrated with unspeakable torture, at times we even mull committing suicide. After inhuman atrocities that we have been subjected to by jail officials, suicide appears as the only way out,” Qasmiwrote in the letter.
Tariq Qasmi is implicated in three different cases – one in Barabanki (crime no. 1891/2007), another in Lucknow (crime no. 547/2007) and a third one in Faizabad (crime no. 3398/2007). In all the three cases, apart from charges under different sections of IPC, he has been charged under sections 16, 18, 20 and 23 of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and sections 3, 4, 5 and 6 of Explosive Substances Act (ESA).
“On 17th Dec 2007, reports in the media claimed that he was picked up from Rani Ki Sarai in Azamgarh on 12th December. However, his arrest was shown on 22nd December after Chowdhary Chand Pal Singh, a National Loktantrik Party (NLP) leader, threatened to immolate himself if Qasmi is not produced before 22nd Dec,” saidMohammad Shoaib, Qasmi’s advocate, while speaking to Newzfirst.
“When he went missing for 2 days, Qasmi’s grandfather Azhar Ali, filed a missing complaint on 14th Dec at the Rani Ki Sarai police station. He had also sent applications to the NHRC, state government, CM and Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court on the same day,” Shoaib added.
Due to massive protests by the people of Uttar Pradesh against his arrest, the then Mayawati government had formed a Commission to probe the arrests. Though the Commission has submitted its report to Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on 3rd September 2012, the Government is yet to make the findings public.
“In a high security jail of Lucknow, they only get to see sunlight for 1 hour out of the 24 hours. In the night, the Jailer and deputy jailer come in a drunken state and hurl all kinds of abuses against the prisoners. It is a joke towards the Jail Manual. The letter which Qasmi wrote was on behalf of the other prisoners who asked him if there is a provision in Islam for committing suicide in such cases, and if there is why don’t we embrace it,” said Shoaib in disappointment.
Abdul Razzaq’s suicide note and Tariq Qasmi’s letter are indicative to the torture and mental pressure which most of the accused, especially in terror cases, are experiencing. It is a sad reflection on the Criminal Justice system that prevails.
“It is a strategy of the police that they implicate a person in so many cases that all your life you end up in jail because you are tried for different cases one after the other, which in turn go on for several years because the prosecution keeps extending the trial citing more time to produce witnesses,” a human rights activist belonging to the Forum advocating the release of innocents arrested in the name of terror, told Newzfirst on Anonymity.