Vol. XLI No. 09 February 26, 2017

Persecution of Muslim Youth in Terror Cases

THE sordid and shocking record of the targeting and prosecution of Muslim youth being falsely accused in terror related cases has once again been highlighted by the Delhi High Court’s acquittal of all the three accused in the 2005 serial blasts in Delhi. Two men Mohammad Hussain Fazli and Mohd Rafiq Shah were acquitted of all charges by the Court, while Tariq Ahmed Dar was also found to have no role in the blasts but he was convicted for being a member of a terrorist organisation.

By this biased and communally motivated police investigation, the net result has been that the perpetrators of the terror attacks which killed 67 persons in Delhi remain untraced. This is rightly causing great anguish to the families of the victims.

It has taken 12 long years for Fazli and Rafiq Shah to gain freedom, years in which they suffered police torture and prolonged incarceration. Behind this miscarriage of justice lies a trail of brutal police torture, concocted evidence and suppression of facts which establish the innocence of the accused. For instance, 22 year old Rafiq Shah was a student of Kashmir University and was attending classes in Srinagar on the day the blast occurred in Delhi. The letter written by the registrar of the Kashmir University confirming his presence in class from the attendance record was deliberately suppressed by the police. The judgment of the Court is an indictment of the Delhi Police Special Cell which fabricated the case and perpetuated this atrocity on innocent people.

The acquittal in the Delhi blast case comes in the wake of a series of acquittals in terror related cases in the past one and a half decade. The judicial verdicts have shown how there is a pattern of rounding up innocent Muslim youth and charging them whenever a terrorist blast occurred. The police investigation agencies, particularly the special cells and the anti-terrorism squads have an inbuilt bias against Muslim youth; Kashmiri Muslim youth are particularly targeted.

In 2012, the CPI(M) had taken up the cases of 22 Muslim youth who had been discharged or acquitted for being wrongly charged and imprisoned in terror related cases. They included such cases as that of Md Amir from Delhi, who was arrested at the age of 18 and after spending 14 years in jail was acquitted of all charges. Another was Maqbool Shah from Srinagar who was jailed for 14 years and then acquitted.

The CPI(M) had demanded

(i) compensation and rehabilitation for the innocent persons implicated in such cases;

(ii) provision of special courts with time bound procedures to settle cases within a year;

(iii) in cases where there has been fabrication of evidence and biased efforts to implicate innocent persons, action must be taken against those responsible; and

(iv) the draconian provision in the Unlawful Activities Prohibition Act must be removed.

Despite taking up this issue with the government and the president of India, no steps were taken to remedy the situation. With the Delhi High Court’s indictment of the police investigation, a beginning must be made. The guilty police officials in this case must be charged and prosecuted. The State must provide adequate compensation and take steps for the rehabilitation of the two men who have been so unjustly treated.

(February 22, 2017)