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Framed & damned: Justice Sachar’s battle for Muslims fighting fake cases

by Alka Pande

Lucknow: On 26 June, 2007, the Special Task Force (STF) of Uttar Pradesh government brought Aziz-ur-Rehman to Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh) from Alipur jail (Kolkata). It claimed that Aziz was present in Lucknow on 22 June but since his accomplice Jalaluddin alias Babu Bhai was arrested a day later along with AK 47, hand grenade and a Chinese pistol in his possession, Aziz escaped back to Kolkata. Before running away he hid the RDX in his possession somewhere in Lucknow.

Mohd Shoeb, who is Aziz-ur-Rehman’s lawyer, has the order of an Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate Court in Alipur (Kolkata), according to which Aziz was presented before the court on 22 June in a petty theft case. He was then sent to judicial custody and up till 26 June he was in official custody.

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The STF brought a person, Aftab Alam Anasari, from Kolkata in relation to a blast case in Lucknow court. On 16 January, 2008, he was presented before the court as Raju alias Mukhtar, an accused in a court blast case. No evidence could prove that he was Raju alias Mukhtar. Eventually, Ansari was released from the court.

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These are just two examples how members of the minority community have been falling victim to the sorry lack of competence in the Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force in cracking cases of terror. More than 70 Muslim boys have been arrested from 2007 onwards for their suspected involvement in terrorist activities by the task force. Many of these boys are either in jail in UP and other states or have died or have gone missing, says a PUCL (People’s Union for Civil Liberties) list.

The Muslim community is perplexed at the lack of sensitivity from the state to those framed in fake charges. AFP

According to the list, 29 boys are locked up in different jails of UP whereas 20 are in jails of other states, including Delhi, Jaipur, Ahmadabad and Hyderabad. UP’s jails also have 10 Muslim boys from other states, mostly from West Bengal and Jammu & Kashmir. Eight boys are missing and two are dead. It goes without saying that the majority of cases are fake. Justice Rajinder Sachar underlined the cases in the broader context of the country’s attitude to the Muslims today.

“Faith of minority is the test of a civilised state... Many innocent Muslim boys are being arrested on the charges of terrorism. The community is perplexed whether the charges are real or the move is some kind of conspiracy of the government. It is a sad state that the minority community is left to feel like this,” he said. He condemned both the Congress and the Samajwadi Party for the situation. He said both political outfits have been neglecting the welfare of the minority community. Incidentally, both parties are constantly wooing the Muslims for electoral purposes.

Sachar, whom Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had given in 2005 the charge of preparing a holistic report about the status of Muslims in India, is the former president of PUCL and the founder member of Socialist Party (India) – a political outfit formed by group of social activists.

Sachar is demanding that the government expedite probe into all the cases of which the PUCL has prepared a list.

Incidentally, the Samajwadi Party (SP), during the assembly election earlier this year, had promised the Muslim community that boys arrested under false charges would be released. However, instead of making a move in this direction the government has initiated the process for the release of its own party workers, who have been arrested in previous government under various charges. A list of about 3,000 SP workers and followers has been sent to district magistrates of all the states to look into the cases in their respective districts and start taking measures to get the 'innocent' ones released.

Agitated over the fact that the SP president Mulayam Singh Yadav did not keep his word, a group of people have formed a ‘Rihai Manch’. This outfit is fighting for the right of innocent people locked in various jails and also for the right of the families of innocent men, who are killed in fake encounters. “A majority of stories of STF are baseless, false and fake,” claimed advocate Mohd Shoeb, who is the convenor of the manch. He is pursuing ten cases on the PUCL list and has gathered evidence that the STF had foisted false cases against in many instances.

Sachar voiced his anguish over the state of affairs and quoting from 'Framed, Damned, Acquitted – Dossier of a Very Special Cell’, a recent report by Jamia Teachers Solidarity Association, said in most of the 16 cases listed in Delhi the accused were acquitted by court. The court found no charges against them and condemned the police for its superficial act.

“This is happening in Delhi where there is no Modi sitting but Congress is ruling,” Sachar said. He points out to the misuse of Section 120 of Indian Penal Code for treason. “The rule was made by British and even Nehru had said that he was ashamed that the law was still in use in India. Now we have the Congress government, which talks of Nehru’s legacy. It should take measures to withdraw a law, which does not allow one to speak against the government and let the police act arbitrarily,” he added.