Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Who cares for innocents languishing in jails?

Have the political parties of India given up morality and humanism? Did any honourable Member of Parliament raise his powerful voice against the indefensible but ever-continuing incarceration of young Muslim boys, charged with enacting Malegaon, Ajmer, Hyderabad and Samjhauta Express blasts?

Did any TV channel organise any meaningful talk-show on the redundancy of criminal cases, needlessly destroying careers of Muslim youth in various jails?

Are the State Home Ministers of Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh cocksure they will not have to, at the end of the day, hang their heads in shame before the nation in this regard?

What does the law say on the subject in concrete terms? Is this being misused by the morbid minds?

Cannot the Supreme Court, the last ray of hope of the hopeless, take notice on its own as it does in some cases to right a grave and grievous wrong to the principal minority of the country?

Pragya with senior BJP leaders
After tale-tell confessions, in addition to misleading statements as well, by Col. Srikant Prasad Purohit, Ms. Pragya Singh Thakur and Swami Aseemanand, detention of the Muslim accused appears to be utterly unjustified to the minority leaders, opinion makers, whistle blowers and social activists. If it is a confusing case, let the State and Central governments remove the cobwebs for the sake of clarity and political ethics. 
Here are a few glimpses of some chilling, real life stories, told not by any idiot but by close relations of the police victims:
“I am Saliha Khatoon from Gujarat, Zahid Sheikh’s sister. He had been accused of 26 July 2008 bomb blasts. The police asked him to come for some enquiry regarding mobile SIM cards. He went on his motorcycle and has not returned since then. My parents want to see him. They saw that he was unable to walk. He was severely tortured. We were allowed to meet him for two minutes only.”
“I am Jamil Msiullah from Malegaon, Maharashtra. I am the elder brother of Shabbir Masiullah. The police arrested my brother at 3:30 a.m. on August 3, 2006 from his house. He was given electric shocks on his private parts and acid was poured on his private parts to make him confess that he was responsible for either the Malegaon or the Mumbai local train bomb blasts.”
“I am Abdul Kareem from Hyderabad. I used to drive an auto-rickshaw before arrest. One day police barged into my house and took me away. I was tortured, hit on the soles and other body parts with a rubber belt. I was asked what I knew about the Hyderabad bomb blasts. I answered I did not know anything. But they were still forcing me either to admit to the crime or to speak about it.”
Not only the parents but the nation as a whole must be taken into confidence by the state governments as well as the central government with regard to use of electric shocks and pouring of acid on the private parts of even the proven criminals. This is a subject that deserves sympathetic consideration of the powers-that-be. 
Does our civilized society approve of it? Does it not run counter to human rights, which we think are enjoyed even by the criminals, proven or otherwise.

Victims of Malegaon blasts
The above reproductions are from a booklet titled “What It Means to Be a Muslim in India”, brought out by the Act Now for Harmony and Democracy (ANHAD). 
What a poor, semi-literate, helpless accused can do to sensitise the callous police and the not-so-callous lower level judiciary and administrative officers? Add to it the planned infiltration of communal mindset in the system.

A recently retired Intelligence officer has, not long ago, admitted in black and white: “Hindu link to blasts was ignored at the outset.” To quote him from a story by Josy Joseph from the Times News Network: “... several vital clues that should have prompted us to be far broader in our approach towards those blasts were ignored. We were swept away by the overwhelming opinion in the (security) establishment that only Islamic groups could carry out the sophisticated blasts we saw in Samjhauta and Mecca Masjid.”

Such blasts, he added, were ignored in cases that are now being seen as the handiwork of the Abhinav Bharat network. For example, in the initial days, after the twin blasts in Jama Masjid (on April 14, 2006) we had intercepted suspicious phone calls to an RSS member. But we chose to ignore it.” He added. A senior official pointed out the “environment was so overwhelming” in the belief that only Muslim extremists could carry out terror attacks – “we did not even have discussion on other possibilities.” Mind it: this is from the proverbial horse’s mouth.

Otherwise in each and every democracy, but particularly in a plural polity, justice and even-handedness is a must. What ensures rather strengthens a heterogeneous setup is judicious treatment with various religious, linguistic and cultural segments. The Congress as a party perhaps forgot to look beyond its nose in this regard. Our charge is graver as all the affected States except Gujarat are governed by the Congress Party. See the secularist lethargy on the one hand and on the other observe the systematic plantation by the Rightists of their cadres in various sectors and services. Does the very thought of Muslims blasting the faithful in a mosque during the Friday prayers not run in the face of commonsense? At similar footing rests the case of destruction of a divine’s mausoleum or train carrying Muslims back to their country.


But neither at the State level nor at the Central plane, the logic of Muslims killing Muslims appears to be odd. And they continued persuing and prosecuting the innocent Muslim youth. This mindless persecution resulted in legthening the shadows between Muslims and the government, Muslims and Congress and Muslims and other communities. What the Untied States was laboriously popularising after 9/11 that Islam is a terrorist ideology, so are its friends doing in India, official denials notwithstanding.
For what crime Ishrat jahan was murdered?
It is noteworthy that almost each and every fanatic, owing allegiance to the Abhinav Bharat has, direct or indirect, relations with the known fascist outfits.

On the other hand, it is not the case of a few hundred Muslim youth standing between Malegaon and Samjhauta Express. The entire 170-million strong Muslim minority stands in the dock, charged with terrorism not only against the Hindu brethren but against their own co-religionists.


Things would not stop at Swami Aseemanand. Those would go beyond him. The official machinery appears to be acutely conscious of that embarrassing eventuality. Therefore, perhaps they are putting blocks after blocks against the withdrawal of the framed cases and bail to the fictitiously manufactured accused. The less-than-morally conscious officers and their less-than-bold bosses see their political future in keeping the innocent as long as possible in the jails. Inexplicable delay in enquiries, illogical denials of bail and hurdles in the release of the Muslim accused speaks volumes of the nervousness of the bureaucracy. 


You must have heard Mr Sharad Pawar periodically vaxing eloquent on the Muslim plight. What you appear to have forgotten is that both at the time of Malegaon and even now the Home Minister of Maharashtra was, and is, from Mr. Pawar’s party, the NCP. At the time of innocent Muslim youths arrest, Mr. Pawar did not raise his little finger. Now when the bail applications of the accused are put forward, they are successfully opposed by police working under the NCP Home Minister. Mr. Pawar, we feel, is doing what an ace politician should, having nothing to do with morality. But what has happened to Dr. Manmohan Singh and Mr. P. Chidambaram? True, law and order is a State subject and security is more than a state subject. But all this should not be used as a tool to persecute a peaceful minority’s upcoming children, whose careers and future are being destroyed mindlessly. Another question of importance is: will it not raise the level of frustration breeding among Muslims? Is it good for national integration?

Let the all-India Muslim leadership rise to the occasion and hold mirror to the morally weak, myopic, unethical leaders of the country and demand justice for the innocent youth who are suffering for crimes which they never committed.

Dr S Ausaf Saied Vasfi in Radiance Weekly. More Here

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