By Advocate Shafeeq Rehman Mahajir
Dear Mr Police Commissioner:
I am told by “the Press” that Indian Mujahideen and Lashkar e Tayyaba / Toiba with several score “sleeper cells” are responsible for bomb blasts at Hyderabad recently. The same press also reports that the Commissioner of Police says it is not yet known who is responsible. The media however, quoting allegedly unidentified yet allegedly reliable police sources, seems to know a great deal more than even the police.
For, scanning news reports I see that over a week, EVERY name of an alleged suspect is a Muslim name. Even names of alleged organisations allegedly linked with the blasts, are Muslim names. The implications, the undercurrent of political, administrative and executive as well as media bias is striking. Once again, the Muslims are the target. To interpret these horrifying signals, not much of a brain is needed. However, in the India of today where the language of political discourse has fallen to abysmal levels, four notable absentees are: brain, shame, truth and justice.
Let me ask you, sir, a few questions:
1. Despite the innumerable Muslim accused having been found by due process of law to be innocent of terror involvement, and despite the confessional statements of right-wing Hindutva group cadre members with those confessional statements supported by independent corroborative evidence, how is it that ONLY Muslims are stated in the press as being investigated, interrogated, searched for ?
2. How is it that despite the confessional statements of right-wing Hindutva group cadre members with those confessional statements supported by independent corroborative evidence, NO non-Muslim name features in ANY of these reports including those citing mysterious sources giving out Muslim names as suspects?
3. Has the police undertaken a questioning of those media rags (sorry, newspapers) and ruts (sorry, channels) which have been promoting this lopsided image of a Muslim community as responsible for such events, to ascertain which “sources” they got these credible bits of information from ?
4. Has the police undertaken a questioning of those mysterious sources to ascertain what information they have and to know whether they are somehow involved, or wish to create red herrings to misdirect investigation?
Shafeeq Mahajir is a Hyderabad based lawyer.
5. Has the police undertaken a questioning of those who control or own these media rags (sorry, newspapers) and ruts (sorry, channels) which have been promoting this lopsided image of a Muslim community as responsible for such events, to ascertain whether they are carefully orchestrating a media blitz to ensure that the direction of investigation serves to deflect the focus from the right wing terror which stands established as a fact?
6. Has the police taken any steps to book cases against these media houses, press reporters and newspapers, for publishing material without reasonable basis, as causes dissensions within society and polarizes it, creating enmity between groups and sections of society along religious lines ?
7. Considering that a speech by an MLA has had charges of sedition and waging war against the State slapped against him, should the same charges not be framed against these media houses, press reporters and publishers and newspapers, for publishing such scandalizing material without reasonable basis, and thereby creating enmity between groups and sections of society along religious lines ? If they have had these bits of information planted by some “sources” should those sources not be identified and similarly prosecuted? Or are Muslim-baiters to be forever immune from prosecution?
8. Is this not indicative of interference with investigative processes and is it not actionable? Considering that, what action has the police taken as against these communalizing elements?
9. If any non-Muslim has even been questioned in these matters, why is it that the media is absolutely silent of that, or do “police sources” only reveal to the media the names of Muslim persons being investigated?
10. Is the police department not aware that the assertion that a named person is being investigated on such serious charges is by itself enough to cause massive trauma in his and his family’s life? Who is behind the publication and the media blitz to defame and demonize the Muslim community?
11. Why is the Police a silent spectator in the matter?
12. Why did the police not sanitize the areas after the events and instead permit VIP visitors with entourages, and were any measures taken to ensure that the entourage members did not interfere with the integrity of available evidence, or even perhaps plant “evidence” ?
13. If the police is yet to analyse the data from the camera that was making a CCTV record of the area/s in question, how is it that named suspects are being spoken of even before that exercise, and all of them happen to be ONLY Muslims ? Or is it a foregone conclusion that ONLY Muslims can be responsible and the police believe in advance that no one else need be suspected?
14. If in earlier blasts like the ones in Samjhauta Express, Ajmer, Malegaon, Hyderabad, etc., right wing groups are found on NIA investigation to be involved, how and why is it that none of those from those organisations or linked to those accused, are being investigated or their names shown as possibly involved ? Or, to repeat, is it a foregone conclusion that ONLY Muslims can be responsible and the police believes in advance that no one else need be suspected, and if so, considering this and 13 above, how credible is this investigation going to be?
15. The press also reports that the State Police is reluctant to hand over the investigation to the NIA. Why on earth is that? Is it that the State Police desires a certain outcome and the investigation by the NIA can come up with results that a certain section of Indian society holding certain non-inclusive, non-pluralistic, non-secular views would be upset by this?
16. Is the possibility being investigated that a police, paramilitary or military hand may be involved looking at the likely political situation that can unfold while heading towards the 2014 elections? If not, perhaps someone knows why not, considering that in the past there is at least one known army man accused of complicity in terror activities in collusion with some “religious” individuals wearing (and thereby defaming) a certain colour ?
17. Considering the press reports that use of certain chemicals points allegedly to an “IM imprint”, is the possibility being investigated that any group wanting to have an investigation go in a certain direction, would use such methods or means to direct blame towards a specific group?
18. Considering that there is no effort by the police department or other agencies to distance itself/themselves from what the media reports, do we citizens take it that the police also is investigating these matters only along the lines that ONLY Muslims and none other can be involved ?
19. Are the police officials who are investigating these matters screened to ensure they are not persons with anti-Muslim bias or a reluctance to see right-wing hands that evidence points towards? Is there ever any screening to weed out officials who have been found in the past to have targeted Muslims during such investigative exercise or foisted false cases against them?
20. Is it a scheme already in place, with the 2014 elections in mind, that UAPA will be invoked in the aftermath of these blasts?
21. Is it a likelihood, based on the past similar tragedies, that an unknown number of young Indians will be charged, arrested, imprisoned, tortured, police will extract “confessions” under extreme duress, they will be tried on those charges in the courts, accused will have attorneys who will hardly have the experience, resources and support to match the massive resources and influence over the process of the prosecution by government and its agencies and, though none of the accused will be convicted for the alleged crime they will be accused of, nevertheless their lives will be shattered forever ?
22. Considering that 1 out of 7 Indians is a Muslim, 1 out of 8 Muslims of the world live in India, and over 200 million Muslims of India belong to India, and India belongs to Muslims as much as to any other community in India, what do you believe the demand of proper policing is ?
Shafeeq Rehman Mahajir appeared before Justice Bhaskara Rao Commission inquiring into the police firing on unarmed Muslims in the wake of Mecca Masjid blast of 2007. Shafeeq Mahajir with painstaking research work was able to demonstrate the AP Police deliberately fired on civilians. Police claimed that they fired to stop the violent crowd from burning nearby petrol pump. Mahajir proved the police claim false and showed that police fired unprovoked and fired to kill.