“The Home Minister
has not said anything new. The time has come for the government to act. The government has to show seriousness by prosecuting officers guilty of malicious prosecution. It is not as if police officers have not been indicted by the courts. But till date, no action has been taken against those officers,” Ahmed Sohaib of Jamia Teachers Solidarity Association (JTSA), said.
The organisation has been a vocal critic of how state machinery has been used to target innocent Muslim youths in the name of terror.
The JTSA has recently compiled a report “Framed, Damned Acquitted
– Dossiers of a ‘very’ Special Cell” documenting 16 terror cases between 1992 and 2012 in which those arrested , mainly by the Delhi Police
Special Cell, were accused of being members of terrorist organisation but were subsequently acquitted of all charges by the courts.
One such case, where a Delhi
court came down heavily against the Delhi Police’s role and indicted officers involved, relates to an encounter orchestrated by Special Cell in 2005 where it claimed to have arrested four ‘terrorists’ after a gunfight on the Delhi –Gurgaon road.
In a strong judgement delivered in 2011, not only did the judge acquit all the accused arrested in the case, but also ordered a criminal investigation into the role of police officers involved.
In his judgement, the judge said, “These four police officers (referring to the team led by special cell officer Ravinder Tyagi) have brought utter shame and disrepute to the whole Delhi Police force. In my opinion, there cannot be any more serious or grave crime than a police officer framing an innocent citizen in a false criminal case. It is not only unethical but also illegal for an investigating agency to resort to concoction, padding, fabrication of evidence — all serious offences under the law even to bring a known criminal to justice.”
“I, therefore, direct the Commissioner of Police, Delhi, to initiate appropriate enquiry against the four police officers S I RavinderTyagi, SI Nirakar, SI Charan Singh and SI Mahender Singh or the misuse and abuse of their powers as a police officer, as detailed herein-above,” the court said.
With the case in appeal in the High Court
, the officers in question have not only remained scot-free, but some have even been awarded medals by the government.
Shinde, in his letter to chief ministers which has sparked off a controversy, wrote, “The Central government has received several representations alleging harassment of innocent Muslim youth by law enforcement agencies. Some of the minority youth have started feeling that they are deliberately targeted and deprived of their rights. The government has to ensure that no innocent person is subjected to undue harassment.”
Directions by the Home Minister to the CMs in his letter include setting up of fast-track courts in consultation with the High Court to try terror-related cases, strict action against police officers in cases of mala fide arrests of Muslim youth and compensation to those acquitted in terror-related cases.
According to PTI, Minorities Affairs Minister K Rahman Khan had written to Shinde informing him about “wrongful arrests” and concerns expressed by Muslim bodies about the misuse provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act
against the Muslim community.
Speaking in the context of the 2008 Batla House encounter
, in the aftermath of which JTSA was formed, and the impact it had on university students and the community, Sohaib said, “There was and still is insecurity among students. Students from Azamgarh even now find it difficult to rent houses here. Initially, there was lot of fear and panic in the community. Students and youth were being picked up randomly.”
The 2008 shoot-out between the Delhi Police Special Cell and alleged terrorists left two of them (from Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh) and a police inspector dead. The lone accused in the case was held guilty of firing at police officials and was awarded life imprisonment by a Delhi court in July this year. The JTSA, however, maintains that the encounter was staged.
On the government’s proposal to compensate victims of mala fide police arrests, the Jamia University teacher said, “It is for the government to decide how it wants to compensate someone who has been wrongly implicated and acquitted by the court seven, 10, 14 years later. For a life that has been shattered in this way, monetary compensation is only a token. But even that has not happened.”