Uttar Pradesh – PUDR statement on the death of Khalid Mujahid in police custody


June 11, 2013

PUDR strongly condemns the death of Khalid Mujahid, an undertrial arrested in 2007 in connection with bomb blasts in UP earlier that year. Mujahid died on 19 May, 2013 when he was being escorted by a team of the Uttar Pradesh state police from a court in Faizabad to Lucknow jail. His death while under police escort in what is a clear case of custodial killing raises several questions – the rights of citizens, especially Muslim youth; the character of the police and state; the truth behind terror cases and arrests.

Khalid Mujahid, together with Tariq Qasmi had been shown as arrested on 22 December 2007 from Barabanki railway station. The ATS accused them of being behind the bomb blasts in Lucknow and Faizabad courts in November 2007, and the blast in Gorakhpur, claiming that explosives and other incriminating material were found on the two. The Bahujan Samaj Party, then in power, set up a Commission of Inquiry in March 2008 following protests against the arrests.

The Justice RD Nimesh Commission of Inquiry constituted by the state government to look into this matter submitted its report in December 2012 almost exactly five years after their arrests.

The inquiry commission examined police records, affidavits and testimonies of witnesses. On this basis, it concluded there was ample evidence to show that Tariq Qasmi and Khalid Mujahid were arrested not on 22 December 2007 as claimed, but on 12 December and 16 December respectively. The Commission reports that when the National Loktantrik Party’s youth leader in UP Choudhary Chadrapal threatened to immolate himself on 22 December if by then the two Muslim youth were not released, that the top brass decided to show their arrest on 22 December from Barabanki railway station. The Commission recommended action against the concerned officers and personnel who could be identified.

Despite the conclusions of the report and evidence cited, the now ruling Samajwadi Party too dragged its feet. By the time the government acted on the report, another six months passed. Finally on the basis of the Commission’s report the state government moved an application to withdraw the case. However the Special Court in Barabanki turned down the application in May 2013, claiming that the charges were much too serious. And then, nine days later, Khalid died in police custody, in circumstances which remain mysterious.

Some light can be shed on the so-called mystery by recalling that Khalid’s story is one that is being played out over and over again. The forms may be different but the essential plot and characters remain the same. Bomb blast/s occur. Muslim youth are picked up. Connections with SIMI etc. are alleged; seizure of explosives and extremist literature produced as evidence. In many cases the accused are found to be innocent, having been wrongly incarcerated for years. They are either released on bail or cases withdrawn or they may still continue to be in jail due to various reasons. This, if they are lucky. It isn’t unusual that some like Khalid never return. Not too long back in November 2012 Quateel Siddiqui (arrested for his alleged involvement in the German Bakery blasts) too died in a high security cell in Yerawada jail in Pune, in judicial custody. Again, under so called ‘mysterious circumstances.’ However generally no one is held accountable for the years lost and lives destroyed.

In this context PUDR welcomes the fact that in this case a rare FIR has been filed against 42 police personnel, including the former DG of Police Uttar Pradesh. Whether the case will be properly investigated, and the guilty prosecuted, remains to be seen.

Khalid Mujahid’s arrest, imprisonment and custodial death exposes the brazenness with which the police and ATS routinely arrest Muslim youth under false charges, force ‘confessions’, torture and kill them in custody. It also reveals the callous attitude of elected governments wary of displeasing the police, ATS or the Hindutva elements; and a compromised judiciary for whom terrorist activity requires no proof; guilt is decided by the magnitude of the alleged crime.

These acts of omission and commission expose a disturbing synchronicity between various agencies in terrorizing ordinary citizens, particularly Muslim youth, in the alleged fight against terrorism. The fact that a person could remain incarcerated for years after being abducted illegally and implicated in a fabricated case raises the issue of institutionalization of bias against Muslim youth in the name of fighting ‘terrorism’. Not only does ‘let law takes its course’ approach means years can elapse before those falsely implicated, mostly Muslim youth, win back their freedom. But their struggle to do so through the legal system is now coming under attack from Hindutva forces in an organized way amounting to a violation of the right to legal defense. While protests against Khalid’s custodial death were expressed in several cities in UP including Faizabad immediately afterwards, the local Bar Association passed a resolution expelling Khalid Mujahid’s lawyer Jamal Ahmad. His assistant Mohammad Shakeel was grievously injured. Indeed local bar associations have been issuing diktats that those accused of terror attacks will not be defended by their members and anyone who defies this ban will face expulsion and threat to life. Their recurrent diktats and attacks on lawyers who defy their ban has not persuaded either the High Court/Supreme Court or the Bar Council of India to show any concern over this subversion of the ‘rule of law’.

The death of Khalid Mujahid, raises questions about the police, lower judiciary and legal profession and their commitment to uphold, without discrimination, the constitutionally mandated protection of life and liberty of every citizen. PUDR calls upon all democratically minded people to protest against this attack on democratic rights and violation of the laws of natural justice and demands that:

1. Criminal responsibility be fixed in the in death of Khalid Mujahid and the guilty punished.

2. The Bar Associations expel lawyers obstructing legal aid to the accused, and lawyers guilty of attacking Khalid’s defense counsels be immediately disbarred.

3. Arbitrary picking up and illegal detention of Muslim youth be stopped and officials guilty of their wrongful confinement and fabrication of cases against be prosecuted and punished.

D. Manjit
Asish Gupta
(Secretaries)

 

Dubious role of police exposed in custodial death of terror accused in Uttar Pradesh


Khalid Mujahid‘s tragic story is a litany of irreconcilable facts, right from the day he was arrested by the anti-terrorism Special Task Force of the UP Police in December 2007
Ajit Sahi

Ajit Sahie

FalseTerror1If we accept the official explanation for the death on 18 May of Khalid Mujahid, an under-trial prisoner in Uttar Pradesh accused of terrorism, then India may have just lost a superman. More likely, the police have made up facts and may soon be exposed.

According to the official explanation, Mujahid, 32, was taken ill at 3.40 pm in the eastern district of Barabanki and admitted to a government hospital where he was pronounced dead. This claim was made by none other than the district magistrate of Barabanki, S Minisati, when she visited the hospital. But Mujahid’s lawyer says he had minutes earlier been in another city 65 km away to attend the hearing in one of the terror cases in which he is an accused. “Mujahid left that courtroom at 3.30 pm,” says Randhir Singh Suman, his lawyer. “How did he cover 65 km in 10 minutes?”

Good question. But then, Mujahid’s tragic story is a litany of such irreconcilable facts right from the day he was arrested by the anti-terrorism Special Task Force of the Uttar Pradesh Police in December 2007. Indeed, the police have been thoroughly exposed as lying about him right from the beginning. Yet, it confounds common sense and offends judicial propriety that successive judges not only did not throw out the case against Mujahid as wholly spurious but also refused to grant him bail that he deserved.

Worse, a trial judge ignored his repeated pleas, including written, that the policemen that ferried him between the prison and the court had explicitly threatened to kill him in an “encounter”, a euphemism for extrajudicial killings by the police. Two months ago, a second lawyer who represented Mujahid in another terror case being prosecuted in Lucknow, Mohammad Shoib, told the state’s jail minister that the several Muslim youths, including Mujahid, being tried for terrorism faced threats to their lives. Shoib was also among the last to see Mujahid alive. “We were together in the court until 3.20 pm,” he says. “Ten minutes later, I saw the police van carrying him leave the court premises.”

And now Mujahid is dead. Here is how the state, its police and the judiciary combined to first frame him and then deny him justice.

On 22 December 2007 police announced the arrest of two “terrorists” from a location 20 km east of Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh. They were apprehended, police said, from a railway station in the town of Barabanki that is a satellite of the capital. One of the two arrested men was Mujahid, a madrassa teacher in Jaunpur district, 250 km east of Lucknow. The other was Tariq Kasmi, a practitioner of the Unani medicine system in the district of Azamgarh, which is adjacent to Jaunpur.

The police claimed that Mujahid and Kasmi were responsible for simultaneous bombings in the district courts of Lucknow and Faizabad, which is 120 km east of the capital, on 22 November 2007. They said the two men had been arrested with explosives. Subsequently, the two were implicated in three different cases: one each in Lucknow and Faizabad for the bombings, and one in Barabanki for carrying explosives. They were charged with sedition and waging war against the state, both colonial era constructs, as also under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and the Explosives Act.

Instantly, Mujahid’s family members and well-wishers as well as human rights activists jumped in and demolished the police story. They claimed Mujahid was arrested in broad daylight from a crowded market six days previously, on 16 December 2007. His arrest had sparked protests in his town, Madiyahu, in Jaunpur district. Newspapers had reported both. Local police, civil officials and even the courts were given representations against his arrest. Yet, a judicial magistrate bought the police version that it arrested Mujahid and Kasmi from Barabanki railway station on 22 December 2007.

Could this be dismissed as partisan bickering? If yes, then consider this. In response to a plea filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the police station in Mujahid’s township, too, acknowledged that he had been arrested from the market near his house on 16 December 2007. This evidence directly contradicted what the police had told the Barabanki magistrate, before whom the two men had been presented and who had remanded them to a police custody. Mujahid quickly sought to file the RTI reply with various trial courts in Barabanki, Lucknow and Faizabad and press for justice.

But the courts told him that they can’t accept the RTI document until the prosecution had finished its arguments. That was in 2009. It is 2013 now and the prosecution hasn’t yet finished its arguments. So the defence lawyers decided to try their luck with the high court to at least get him bail. They believed that the discordance in the two versions of police should make it an open-and-shut case in their favour. But the High Court said he was accused of a “heinous crime” and could not be bailed.

In fact, eyebrows are also raised at the role of the then Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) of Barabanki, Anupama Gopal Nigam, who first remanded Mujahid (and Kasmi) in police custody. As per the procedure, the police needed to file an application before the CJM informing of the arrests of the two men and then asking the magistrate to come down to the prison to hear Mujahid and Kasmi’s remand plea because they did not want to bring them to the court for security reasons. “But no such document exists in the court records,” Mujahid’s lawyer, Suman, told TEHELKA from Barabanki. “Did the CJM go to the jail on her own?”

There is more. Suman cross-examined a police officer named Dayaram Saroj when the prosecution called him to depose. As the investigating officer in the case, Saroj should have made that formal request before the CJM. On being cross-examined, Saroj claimed that he himself had handed such an application to the CJM when she visited the prison after the arrests. But in response to an RTI application, prison authorities told Mujahid’s family that Saroj did not visit the prison that day. “This is a serious lapse,” Suman said.

On 19 May, Mujahid’s uncle, Zahir Alam Falahi, filed a First Information Report (FIR) with the Barabanki police alleging that Mujahid had been murdered as a result of a conspiracy. The FIR directly named a total of 42 officers, including a former director-general of police, the highest-ranking police officer in the state, as responsible for it. The question is: why would these police officers want to eliminate Mujahid?

The answer ironically lies in the first real spark of hope for Mujahid. After sustained pressure from human rights groups and various organisations of the Muslims, UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s government moved the local court in Barabanki on 3 May 2013 seeking to withdraw its charges against Mujahid and Kasmi. A week later, Additional Sessions Judge Kalpana Mishra of Barabanki rejected the state’s request on a plea from some local lawyers. “These lawyers are from the RSS,” says Suman, referring to the Hindu supremacist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. “She heard them in her chamber and passed the order without the defence being present.”

But the battle may already be tilting in favour of the accused. For three years, a rights platform named Rihaee Manch has vigorously exposed police falsehoods in cases of terrorism in UP and campaigned to seek the release of the accused. The issue picked up steam last year when leading political figures such as Prakash Karat of the CPM, AB Bardhan of the CPI, Bihar politicians Lalu Prasad Yadav and Ram Vilas Paswan, and Congress Rajya Sabha MP Mani Shankar Aiyar came together and demanded an end to what they called the politics of terror against Muslims.

In 2008, then UP Chief Minister Mayawati had asked retired district judge RD Nimesh to probe the allegation that the police had illegally arrested the two men. He finally submitted his report last August. Although Chief Minister Yadav’s government has stonewalled the demands to release that report, it is widely believed that the commission has damned the police for arresting Mujahid and Kasmi and ruled their arrest as illegal.

“The police officers involved in Mujahid’s illegal arrest are obviously worried,” Shahnawaz Hussain, an activist with Rihaee Manch, told TEHELKA over phone from Jaunpur where he had gone to attend Mujahid’s funeral. “Had Mujahid lived, he would have been a prime witness in the case against them and they couldn’t afford that.”

The defence lawyers and rights activists are now worried for the safety of the remaining accused, who include Kasmi and two Kashmiri men, Sajjadur Rahman and Akhtar who were arrested from Jammu and Kashmir on 22 December 2007 and handed over to UP Police a week later. Strangely, the Jammu and Kashmir Police dropped the original charges on which it had arrested the two men before turning them over to UP Police.

The next hearing in the original case in Barabanki will be held on 31 May 2013. The defence lawyers say they would move the court to ensure that the lives of the other accused are not endangered. “Ironically though, greater security would mean a greater threat to their lives as it is the police who want them eliminated,” Suman said.

 

#India- Life sentence for stealing #Dalit Students Scholarship


As India rises against corruption a Uttar Pradesh court hands out a life term for stealing Dalit students’ scholarship

Piyush Srivastava   |   MAIL TODAY  |   Lucknow, November 2, 2012

The court also awarded 10 years of imprisonment to Satish Rawat, manager of the school
The court also awarded 10 years of imprisonment to Satish Rawat, manager of the school.
A court in Barabanki district of Uttar Pradesh has awarded life term to the principal of a school for pocketing the scholarships ofScheduled Caste students .Barabanki’s Special Additional Session Judge Kalpana Mishra put the case of Madhuri Sinha, principal of the Bishun Memorial Bal Shiksha Mandir on Dewa Road, in the category of one of the most atrocious crimes and awarded her a life term.The court also awarded 10 years of imprisonment to Satish Rawat, manager of the school. Besides this, the court also imposed a fine ofRs.14000 and Rs.16000, respectively on them.

They had filched Rs.61,920, which was meant as scholarship to the students in 1996-97, by maintaining a register of ghost students in a non-existent school.

The case came to light in 2000 when someone anonymously filed a complaint with the then district social welfare officer Gautam Kumar. After an initial inquiry, he lodged an FIR against the principal and manager of the school for corruption in Dalit students’ scholarship distribution.

Special public prosecutor Ajit Kumar Singh said it is one of the commonest cases of corruption in which the court has sent a very strong message to dishonest people, who line their pockets with public money meant for the poorest section of the society.

“It is a historic judgment which proves that the law is not tooth-less and the dishonest people should be prepared to face such harsh consequences. The timing is also very apt because the fight for an honest system is gaining ground in the country,” Singh told Mail Today.

“The anonymous complaint was received in 2000. In the due course of inquiry, it came to light that the school existed in 1976-77. The school became non-existent after 1977, though a board displaying its name remained. Although there was no student or teacher on its rolls, the principal and manager of the school showed in their records that there were 430 students, all of them belonging to SC. On the basis of this claim, the government releasedRs.61,920 as each dalit student was entitled to a scholarship of Rs.144,” he said.

“Later on, the investigators traced a State Bank of India account in Barabanki which was in the name of Savita. The subsequent inquiry revealed that it was a fictitious name and the account was actually operated by Madhuri Sinha. Satish Rawat was hand in glove with her. So the cases were registered under Sections 419, 420, 467, 468 and 471 of the IPC for cheating and forgery and Section 325 of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Now poetic justice has been done with the principal being awarded life term the manager getting 10 years in jail,” Singh added.

#India Tarique Quasmi’s Letter addressed to the People Sent from the Lucknow #Prison #Torture


Dated: 22nd September 2012, Sanhati.com

Salaam!
We are also humans. We are patriotic citizens and innocents who have been forcefully trapped in unholy plots and charged with terrorist cases. Today we are so distressed due to the never-ending torture that we are even considering commitment of suicide. Inhuman treatment is being meted out on us by the jail authorities which has depressed us so much that suicide seems to be the only option left to us.

Each of us here has been thrown behind bars in a somewhat similar manner. We have been illegally abducted from our houses, markets, fields, or streets, kept in illegal custody, made part of manufactured stories by violent means, and then after many days shown arrested with illegal materials in possession, from places like Barabanki, Lucknow, Unnav and others.

We have been miserably tortured in ‘high security’ wards. The torture continues even today in the form of intentional communal remarks.

Snapshots from 2008-09
Continuously locked in a moist, dark and dull cell measuring just 8 by 12 ft, we were never allowed to move out for even a minute. On 13th of June 2008, Friday we were beaten up with leather hunters and lathis, our bodies torn and broken down. The holy Quran was made unholy; its pages were torn and thrown in the toilet. All our clothes, bedsheets, books were confiscated. In fact, in the initial days itself restrictions were imposed in this regard – only 2 pairs of clothes, a lungi, a towel and not more than two underwears were allowed.

Troubled so much, we sat on a long hunger strike whereby we completely boycotted food in protest. Then from 27th January 2009 onwards we were let open for half an hour every day in a small verandah surrounded by walls so high that sunlight disappeared after 12 noon, let alone even a single trace of greenery. From December 2011 onwards after many requests our stay in the verandah was extended to an hour.

It must be brought to your notice that, keeping in sync with the prison manual, on the jail register we were always shown freely moving like other co-prisoners. But as said earlier, were always continuously locked in the small cell. Due to this people had started falling ill here. Whereas some have gone in to depression, others’ memory has been affected. Some others have started losing their vision.

Many years have passed since the magistrate responsible for jail investigation last stepped into the ‘High Security’ ward. High officials and authorities are not brought to this side to prevent us from complaining. Our requests are not forwarded to the authorities so that we remain deprived of human rights.

As per Supreme court guidelines, any under trial must not be kept in isolation when imprisoned. Even the convicted must be kept in isolation for not more than three months. Why are we being subject to illegal, inhuman and criminal behaviour when we are citizens framed under a plot?

Friends, in a situation marked by shortsightedness of authorities, inaccessibility to higher officials, delay in decisions regarding cases and unavailability of medicines, many of us are depressed. This has led to frustration and restlessness amongst us and we have been forced to consider the validity and scope of suicide. This question about suicide is often raised to me during our conversations. How and what does one explain to such people? When they go out in fresh air for whatever little time they are let free during the day, they request for medical care and plead for their life. They are mocked at and told that even if they commit suicide or die otherwise, it would get covered up. They are openly told that they can complaint to whoever they like.

My heart is shaken seeing the helplessness of my co-prisoners and my own self here. Are we in an Indian jail or a British jail? Are we living in a secular state or a communal one?

We request you to help us. Actions taken on government dictates or with the help of authorities and courts, that are against human rights can be put to an end.

For the strength and success of this nation, please be kind and pay attention to helpless lives sobbing and crying in this hearth full of hatred. Because it is justice that gives strength to the nation and the State.

By
Mohd. Tarique Quasmi
Prisoner
High Security Cell
C Block District Jail
Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh

Released by RIHAI MANCH, Lucknow
Contact- 0941501266, 09415254919, 09452800752,