Numerous individuals accused of being terrorists are languishing in jails in various parts of the country. Many among them are released several years later when the courts rule that they are innocent. The “1st People’s Tribunal” was set up on 2nd October 2016 to allow such individuals to present a description of their condition. A report based on the victims’ narrative submitted by the jury was released in New Delhi on 10th December 2016. This report has been published by “The Innocents Network India”.
A.P.Shah - retd. Judge of the Delhi High Court presided over this court. Other members of the court were well known personalities – Sayeed Akhtar Mirza – film director, Dr. G.S. Vajpayee – Professor Criminology and Criminal Justice and Registrar of the National law University, Nina Vyas – veteran journalist, Dr. Nandini Sundar – Prof. Social Sciences DU, Abdul Shaban – Deputy Director Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Vinod Sharma – journalist and Monica Sakhrani – independent lawyer and teacher.
Some innocent people who have been released from detention
Nissar Ahmed and Zahir Ahmed, Gulberga, Karnataka
Nissar Ahmed who was a 20 year old student in a college was arrested in 1994 and has spent 23 years in the jail. Along with him, his brother Zahir Ahmed who was a Civil engineer in Mumbai was also jailed for 14 years. Both of them were held for the 1993 bomb blasts in the railway. They were charged under the various provisions of the Terrorist and other Disruption Activities Act for planting bombs in five trains. The only evidence that the police and the investigation agencies had against them was their own confessions, which were extracted from them through torture. Zahir Ahmed was given bail by the Supreme Court on 9 May 2008 when he was diagnosed with kidney cancer. On 11 May 2016, Supreme court found Nissar Ahmed to be innocent and ordered his release.
Shoab Jagirdar, Jalna, Maharashtra
He was the first accused in the Makkah Masjid case in Hyderabad on 18 May 2007. He was arrested on 26 June 2007. Immediately after he obtained a bail in the Makkah Masjid case, he was made an accused in the Gokul Chat blast case. He was charged with smuggling of RDX and having a fake passport under the IPC Section 107 for the Gokul Chat case. After spending 7 years in jail as a detenue, he was released as innocent by the Sessions court on 17 July 2014.
Mohammed Amir Khan, Delhi
He was implicated in the bomb blasts that took place in the 1996-97 period. On 20 February 1998 the Delhi police arrested him when he was only 18 years old. There were 19 cases registered against him. He spent 14 years in jail. He was released on 9 January 2012 when he was found innocent. During this period, his father expired and his mother got afflicted with paralysis.
Abdul Azim, Beed, Maharashtra
He was accused for serving as the driver of terrorists in 2006 Aurangabad arms in car case. He was arrested under the MCOCA (Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act) and UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act). After spending 10 years and 3 months in the jail, he was found innocent by the MCOCA court on 28 July 2016.
At 50 years age he was accused of being a member of SIMI and imprisoned. Subsequently there were four more accusations were made against him. In the SIMI case, he spent 2.5 years in the jail. He is still facing other charges. Apart from these, he has been accused of the Kanpur bomb blast case. Now he has been found innocent of all these charges.
He was charged with waging war against the state (sedition), rioting, murder and other crimes under the National Security Act. He has been accused of being a member of the Hizbul Mujahideen. None of the charges could be proved and he has been released.
He was teacher in a government school. He was arrest under TADA and MCOCA on 29 September 2006 for the 11 July 2006 serial train bomb blast case. He was found not guilty on all charges and released after being in jail for more than 10 years. After getting released he had to spend huge effort to get back his old job and arrear salary payment.
Iftikar GilaniIftikar Gilani was the Delhi Bureau Chief of Kashmir Times. He was accused of violating the Official Secrets Act and keeping secret documents with him. These documents had information on the alleged human rights violation by the Indian army in Kashmir. Pakistan Foreign Ministry had issued this document in 1995 as public document. He was imprisoned from 9 June 2012 and 13 January 2013. Subsequently these charges and evidence were both found to be fake.
The Court heard (see box for a list of some innocents released from jail) that Muslim youth have been targeted in various instances of terrorism. They have been falsely implicated under TADA, UAPA, MCOCA, etc., and have been detained in jail for years on end. They have been forced under third-degree torture to admit to committing crimes they were not guilty of. The media has labelled them terrorists and carried out wide propaganda against them.
Based on the hearing, the 1st People’s Tribunal has made some important recommendations
- The state must restore the dignity of these innocent youth who have been falsely implicated of being terrorists. The state must compensate these innocent youth for the violating the right to life and liberty, for the time spent in prison, loss of income and opportunities, family life, legal fees, stigmatisation and the emotional and mental harm caused to the accused and their families.
- The police, investigating agencies and prosecution must be held responsible for these false allegations, and such officials should be tried under criminal court and severely punished
- All print and TV channels should print or air unconditional apologies for publishing such accusations and harmful news that has marred the reputation of the innocents
- A compensation law be passed to provide for payment of compensation to such individuals who have been implicated on false charges, jailed and then released on being found not guilty
- Section 18 of MCOCA which admits confession as evidence be repealed; the provisions of UAPA and MCOCO which allows non-bailable arrests should be repealed; cases under TADA and POTA should be withdrawn and these should be heard like other cases under general law.
- The Anti-Torture (Amendment) bill should be passed
Specifically in the last 20-25 years, Muslim community has been branded “terrorist” and it has been made the target of severe state terror. In the name of “war against terrorism, large numbers of Muslim youth have been picked up and arrested without any basis, forced to confess and refused bail; false witnesses have been organised, the media has been used to label them terrorists, etc. Such atrocities are continuing till today. On the one hand, the lives of countless Muslim youth and their families have been ruined, their dignity and livelihood destroyed; on the other, the real criminals who have been guilty of terrorist activities have gone unpunished.
This has happened at the same time when various imperialist states with US imperialism at the head have been spreading the falsehood of “Islamic terrorists” and have used this to unleash a cruel discrimination and fascist attacks on people of Muslim faith. Under this banner of “war against terrorism”, imperialists have sent their armies to provoke war in several counties of Central Asia and Africa, have occupied these countries and destroyed them. The Indian state has marched in step with the imperialists in this campaign of “war against terrorism”.
Communist Ghadar Party fully supports the recommendations of this People’s Tribunal and condemns State terror targeted at innocent people.