The randomness of death that terror brings strikes cold fear in all of us. The policing that follows terror attacks, held up to close scrutiny, might well evoke cold fear of another sort—of needless ensnarement in the pitiless labyrinth of a terror investigation, with interrogation, torture, confinement and, worst of all, a name to live down.
Most of the time, the journey from arrest to trial is incomprehensible to the larger public. A close study of terror arrests is rare. Now, at a time when fresh arrests are being made in Karnataka, comes a detailed report that is an eye-opener. Titled ‘Framed, Damned, Acquitted: Dossiers of a Very Special Cell’, the 200-page report brought out by the Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association documents 16 cases in which people arrested mainly by Delhi police’s special cell as operatives of terrorist groups like Al Badr, HUJI and LeT were later acquitted by the courts. The report shuns the usual rhetoric associated with activists. It’s a spare but revealing account, drawing chiefly on court documents, a sad testimonial to lives destroyed. What is worrying is that it exposes not police ham-handedness but deliberate planting of evidence, followed by claims that a case has been cracked.
The special cell of Delhi Police is one of the premier terror investigation agencies in the country. It was recently behind the arrest of journalist S.M.A. Kazmi and has long been a target of human rights activists. The case against the investigators becomes stronger if we go by what judges have said in various courts. There are records of courts pulling up the cell on numerous occasions. Says JTSA president Manisha Sethi, “Courts have clearly indicted the special cell for setting up innocents, violating due process, concocting evidence... (they have) ordered a CBI probe against the cell and directed the filing of FIRs and initiation of departmental inquiries. Yet, not a single officer in the operations described here has suffered any consequence. Instead, they get promotions and gallantry awards.”
But what of the lives destroyed? Many of the “dreaded terrorists” were possibly just people with the wrong name at the wrong place at the wrong time. Once an individual gets sucked into the terror dragnet, getting out can be a struggle and the stories of the arrests, the police case and how it fell apart after years, they are all documented. Even well-connected individuals like journalist Kazmi have discovered how hard it is.
The individual stories in the JTSA report, which is yet to be released, are sad pointers to the enormous deformities in our system. This is an issue on which liberal activists and traditional Muslim groups have begun to campaign. On August 28, the Supreme Court admitted a petition of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind seeking a judicial probe of all terror blasts since 2002 and compensation for innocent Muslim youths implicated, put behind bars for several years but later acquitted by courts.
Cases of ‘terror’ arrests that ended in acquittal, from the JTSA report
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
In harassments towards the victim, so many of them are actually abetting the acts of terrorism but have been acquitted due to lack of evidence and the pathetic judicial system of the country. I agree that quite a few are innocent and victims but that cannot be the measuring unit for actual terrorists.
Also, why do only muslims turn up in all such scenarios world over. The community is not tolerant towards even satires as we see in libya today. Why should they expect a soft hand when they are being dealt with in cases of terrorism in India? Muslims, as a minority, have been benefitting in India much much more than any other minority community or rather they have been misusing it to advantage such plots in many cases.
Lastly, I would advise you to be a columnist of the masses and not the muslims. Be free and fair in a free and mostly fair country.
They ll get NO sympathy.
Can we use the same argument for the people who were acquited in Gujarat riot cases? I believe the number is more that 16 in every case of riot where justice has been delivered. However, the so called seculars will subvert their own argument to proclaim that people acquited in riot cases have been saved by blood thirsty Modi.
I know a lot of Muslims in Delhi who would argue that Muslims are persecuted. But they will acknowledge that those arrested have something to do with terrorism. There is no quack without the duck, there's no smoke without fire.
I am amazed at the temerity of Muslims who tend to argue for someone like Kazmi. Can someone even think of arresting a 'well connected' scribe in the case of terrorism case. You must be kidding me.
The problem is quite simple. There is no moral hazard for a Muslim writer to be an apologist for fellow Muslim terrorists. However, it is morally wrong for a Hindu to support a Hindu rioter as it is simply the case of communalism. Let's face it. Both of them are equally guilty but being a minority in this country that worships minoritysm is a matter of privilege.
You forgot to add Afzal Guru to the list of shamed and "acquitted".
After post Godhra rioter punishment kangres and pro media dare not attack modi, about 2002 directly. For one reason, people immediately start asking question about 1984 sikh killings. So they have started a new chapter- who said or did what against naMo from inside NDA or some fake stories (after death so no one could confirm). Yesterdays it were BalT and Nitish. Today it is milkman .Tomorrow it will be someone else and show will go on. Whenever they think of writing /speaking against Modi for 2002 riots they suddenly feel that someone has kicked them at the butt. What a punishment for trying to tarnish NaMo's image. Failure, imaginary kick at butt time and again and end result NaMo got publicity free of cost. HURRAY!
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