#India – Tales told by the anti-terrorism squad, signifying nothing #humanrights


 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 9:00 IST | Agency: DNA
Jyoti Punwani
It’s tough to deny facts brought to light by modern technology. 
It’s tough to deny facts brought to light by modern technology. The Dhule police were felled by mobile phone cameras showing them destroying unattended stalls belonging to Muslims during the riot that broke out in January. There really was no choice but to take action against them. Now, mobile call records show that the phones of three Muslims accused of having planted bombs in suburban trains on July 11, 2006, were far away from the sites of the bombings.

That wouldn’t mean much if the agency investigating the case hadn’t done its best to prevent this coming out. The conduct of the ATS has been strange indeed. First, it kept on citing the need to go through these call records to get police custody of the accused. But its charge sheet made no mention of the records. Yet, when the accused wanted to have a look at them, the ATS refused, citing a variety of reasons. It was only when the high court dug its heels in on the issue that the prosecution threw in the towel, saying the accused could get the records from the mobile companies, since it had deleted the copies in its possession. No wonder cops hate judges and lawyers!

The mobile companies were also reluctant, first saying it would take months, then asking for Rs34 lakh as costs. Again it was left to the court to put its foot down.

The records corroborate what the three alleged bombers have been saying about where they were when the bombs were placed on the trains. They also seriously dent the credibility of the investigation — for the fourth time since the blasts.

Soon after the blasts, the ATS had gone on an arresting spree, describing every arrest as a “major breakthrough’’, and the man arrested as the “mastermind’’. But within three months, it applied for discharge of three such “masterminds’’, saying they had nothing to do with the blasts.

From Day One, the ATS had blamed Pakistan. But when it came to confronting Pakistan with the evidence, it played coy.

The real shocker came in the charge sheet — not a word about pressure cookers, after describing to a salivating media how the bombs had been assembled in pressure cookers, their make, from where they had been bought…

But even this wasn’t as shocking as the sudden emergence of an alternate narrative two years after the blasts. At a specially convened press conference, the then crime branch chief Rakesh Maria announced that the culprits were another set of boys belonging to the Indian Mujahideen; its co-founder Sadiq Shaikh, had himself confessed to this. The bombs weren’t assembled in a hut in Govandi as the ATS alleged, but in a Sewri flat.

But the ATS, then headed by KP Raghuvanshi, stuck to its story, and three months after his “confession’’, Sadiq Shaikh was discharged from this case at the behest of the ATS itself. Earlier this month, he told the court that the crime branch had tortured him to “confess’’ to the train blasts.

Allegations of torture have dogged this case right from the start, and no less than the PMO had to intervene. Family members of those arrested as well as those wanted, filed affidavits describing their alleged torture at the hands of the ATS, and were taken to meet the PM by Samajwadi Party chief Abu Asim Azmi.

209 innocents died in the serial train blasts. What must their families be thinking every time the investigating agency comes out looking foolish in these last seven years?

The author is a Mumbai-based freelance journalist.

 

Press Release-Footsteps of Fascism: Hindutva Goons attack Dalit College Teacher in Dhule


Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association

 

 

Following swiftly on the heels of communal violence in Dhule in which six members of the minority community were killed, comes the news of physical assault on Prof. Pramod Bhumbe, a Dalit teacher at the BR Ambedkar Samaj Karya Mahavidyalay. Friends in Dhule and Jalgaon inform us that Prof. Bhumbe while teaching his students about Indian social reforms movement, discussed certain episodes from the Hindu epic Ramayana. This was videographed by a student on his cell phone and the video clip later circulated and handed over to VHP and Bajrang Dal goons.  The clip was quickly construed as proof of Prof. Bhumbe’s insult to Hinduism.

 

Teaching social reform movements without reference to the stinging critique of caste oppression and its implication in religious sanction is difficult anywhere. In Maharashtra, however, it is impossible. The legacy of Jyotiba and Savitri Phule, and Ambedkar is a living, thriving one. It survives in the fiery songs of Sambhaji Bhagat; in the hundreds of book festivals and cultural groups that can be found in the smallest towns and hamlets of the state. It is this culture of resistance, which often takes the form of sarcasm, and even ridicule of the superstitions of caste religion and its assorted institutions that Hindutva resents so much.

 

While Muslims are always cast as the other, radical Dalit critique cannot be domesticated and absorbed into the Hindutva identity.  The two incidents—of communal violence and the attack on Prof. Bhumbe – are not unrelated. They reflect the growing confidence of the Hindutva forces and the state support they enjoy, even under the rule of their political opponents. Neither the SP not the DM of Dhule have been suspended by the state government despite the clear indictment of the administration in the January anti-minority violence by civil society investigations. Can an administration, which was hand in glove with the storm troopers of VHP and Bajrang Dal in January, be expected to seriously pursue the case against Prof. Bhumbe’s attackers?  We appeal to all progressive and democratic groups in Maharashtra to ensure the security and safety of Prof Bhumbe, as the police which led the mobs against a vulnerable minority can hardly be entrusted to do so.

 

Moreover, as fellow teachers, we expect the classroom to be a space of developing and nurturing social critique—precisely what Prof. Bhumbe was doing. We stand in solidarity with him and condemn the right wing vigilantism.

 

Sd/-

Manisha Sethi, Adil Mehdi, Ahmed Sohaib, Tanweer Fazal, Arshad Alam, Farah Farooqi, Azra Razack, Anwar Alam, Ghazi Shahnawaz, Ambarien al Qadar, Adnan Farooqi, Sucharita Sengupta, Manoj Jena, MS Bhatt and Nabanipa Bhattacharya.

 

 

 

Dhule riots: ‘Cops allowed minor incident to escalate into communal clash’


Fact Finding Report By Concerned Citizens

19 January, 2013

Dhule has been in news for past 10 days. It has been reported in the media that, a small altercation in Dhule led to an event leading to violence between Hindus and Muslims. As such death of 6 innocent youth and injuries to several more and massive loss of properties, burning of houses has taken place. The worst part of the episode is that all this has taken place with police force being very much around. Contrary to official reports, the people in the area stated that the behavior of police was very biased against the Muslim minorities. All the youth who died were Muslims. Most of the houses which were burnt belonged to the Muslims.

In the light of the disturbing reports and communications from the local activists we decided that a citizen fact finding committee should visit the Dhule, to investigate and present the facts objectively.

The citizens Fact Finding Committee consisting, of Shabnam Hashmi- social activist ,ANHAD Delhi, Prof Ram Puniyani of All India Secular Forum, Prof Apoorvanand of Delhi University, Adv Nihalsing B Rathod- Human Rights Law Network, Manan Trivedi, Dev Desai, Tanvi Soni, Arma from ANHAD, Gujarat and Azhar from Jalgaon, visited Dhule on 13th and 14th January 2013.

The Committee met several social, religious and political activists, government officials including the district magistrate, victims, families of the deceased and injured, and the people from different walks of life. It also visited the spot of the incident; the affected areas and the Hospitals on 14th January 2013. The committee procured the recordings of the violence which had taken place in the city. This report is based on the testimonies of these people, the records from the hospitals and its own observation in the area where houses have been burnt.

The committee found that the affected area, which was constantly referred as minority area was barricaded to separate it from the Hindu dominated areas. We found temporary police posts on the other side of the barricades (Hindu Majority area). We were told that the curfew which was enforced after the violence; was now relaxed from 9am to 5pm. Police did not prevent people from crossing the barricades from either side. Outwardly life looked normal. We were told that curfew had affected the livelihood of people who worked in the power looms which is the main source of living for majority of the Muslims as work had to be stopped at 5 in the evening. In normal times the power looms kept working round the clock. We also found that even in normal times the area also suffered from huge load shedding, making it impossible for the power looms to work. The stoppage of work is leading to the disruption of life.

There were differing versions of the cause of violence on 6 January. We were told that it was largely a result of the insensitive handing of a minor quarrel by the police. It was clear from the statements of both Hindus and Muslims that tension could have been diffused easily had police taken proper steps to diffuse the tension, which was building up. It did not intervene and told the people to settle the dispute by themselves. The police allowed crowds to assemble from both sides. One can see from the recordings that mobs which assembled started confronting each other with stones. We were also told that the first incidence took place at around 2 to 2.15 pm and mobs from both sides started assembling soon after that. It is clear that both Hindus and Muslims had indulged in stone throwing. What is perplexing is that the police decided to move into the Muslims areas with Hindu mob behind them. Police started firing indiscriminately at Muslims.

As per the testimony of victims and eyewitnesses the police did not make any primary effort to disperse the crowds. It did not use public address system to alert the crowd, nor did it use lathi or teargas shells before going for firing. The residents felt very aggrieved that the police resorted to firing in response to stone throwing. It was reported that the firing lasted for more than two hours and was stopped around 6.30 PM. This point was confirmed by the District Magistrate.

The police firing was intended not to disperse the mob. All the bullet injuries are above the knee, in the abdomen, chest, neck, back and face. The attitude of the police against Muslims is also evident from the recordings as they are found pounding on the motorcycles in the curfew hours when there was nobody on the streets. Media reported and District Collector told us that the police had no option but to open fire as they were attacked with lethal chemicals and many of them suffered grievous injuries when they were trying to control the mobs. This claim is not supported by the Civil hospital record which describes the injuries suffered by the police personnel as minor who were discharged after first aid and there are just a very few cases of minor burn injuries..

Forty two people suffered bullet injuries, six died. Legs of two of the injured had to be amputated. None of the injured went to the civil hospital. We were told that the Muslims avoid going to civil hospital due to their experience of experience of the 2008 riots. In 2008 Muslims were attacked by Hindus when they tried to go to the civil hospital as it falls in a Hindu dominated locality. Due to the experience of 2008 this time, all the injured were taken to private hospitals.

It was reported that none of the injured was taken to the hospital by the police. We were also told by the relatives of those killed that they were not allowed to lodge FIRs. They were told that the deceased had already been made accused and were treated as rioters. The injured have not been able to muster courage to file FIRs, nor have the owners of the damaged property been able to do so.

More than 35 Muslim houses were looted, burnt and destroyed. Destruction of these houses was complete. All of it seems to have been done with clinical precision. We also found four Hindu households burnt, one of them burnt totally. While Muslims are ready to name the attackers, Hindus told us that they did not want to name anybody although they know the attackers.

The looting, burning and destruction of Muslim houses was done by mobs under the protection of the police. In one of the recordings, a senior police officer is seen exhorting the mobs to move forward and attack. The police is also seen standing silently while houses are being burnt. What the police did was to drive away the Muslims by firing, leaving their houses unprotected and vulnerable.

It was also reported that the area of incident and firing was cleaned with water the very next day without any Panchnama having been made.

We found no evidence of relief being provided to the uprooted families who had to flee bare handed from their houses. The DM told us that they were provided with ration through NGOs but was unable to explain how the ration was supposed to be cooked as the victims had no utensils with them to cook it. He also found it natural and sufficient that they were being taken care of by the community-fellows and there was no special need for administration to pitch in.

The fact that when our committee visited the area neither the chief minister, nor the home minister felt it necessary to pay a visit to Dhule in the wake of this violence. This fact has made the Muslims very bitter. Several calls to offices of the CM and HM for an appointment by the Fact Finding Committee yielded no results. Muslims feel uncared for and left to fend for themselves. The announcement by a section of the business community, engineers and lawyers that the police action should not be investigated has also made them wary. More than compensation, they want justice to be done and with these threats they feel that justice might be compromised. The political process of confidence building is absent leaving the field open for all kinds to forces to fill the void. It should be a matter of concern that since 2008, this has been the third major violence and Muslims feel that they are being hounded by the police. The fact, as reported by many; that the constables have not been transferred for more than fifteen years is also to be noted. It is evident that the police is biased against the Muslims and all minds of anti-Muslim stereotypes impact their mindset and action.

Dhule, despite ‘only’ six deaths is a mirror to the nation and our response would also show whether there exists a social, civil and political resolve to protect the constitutional rights of minorities in India or not.

FINDINGS:

1. This violence could have been prevented, had the police acted in time.

2. While stone pelting was done by members of both the communities, the police action was selective and directed against Muslims only.

3. The police did not follow the prescribed protocol to control the mob. Police firing was excessive and was done with an intent to kill.

4. All bullets were above the knee, majority of the bullets were above the waist, many of them in the chest, neck and face. All six deaths were because of the police firing.

5. Majority of the victims of the police firing were left unattended by the police and were taken to hospitals by friends.

6. 159 police personnel were taken to the hospital out of which only 18 were admitted is evident from the record of the civil hospital (attached with this report). All the injuries suffered by the police were minor in nature due to stone pelting.

7. The burning and looting of Muslim household and shops was done by the Hindu mobs in presence of the police personnel and killings were done by the police. From the video footage obtained by us it is clear that Police also indulged in burning Muslim houses and destroying their property.

8. Fire Brigade was not allowed to come to the Muslim locality to douse the fire.

9. No relief camps were set up for those Muslims and Hindus who lost their houses (approximately 40 Muslim families and 4 Hindu families), no immediate relief provided by the State. Some food grains were distributed by the Red Cross.

10. The victims were threatened when they tried to register FIRs and no FIRs were registered.

DEMANDS

1. IMMEDIATE COMMISSIONING OF JUDICIAL ENQUIRY INTO THE WHOLE INCIDENT OF JANUARY 6, 2013 IN DHULE, MAHARASHTRA WITH ESPECIAL FOCUS ON ROLE OF THE POLICE.

2. SUSPENSION OF THE DM , SP AND OTHER OFFICERS RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR ACTS OF OMMISSION AND COMMISSION WITH IMMEDIATE EFFECT

3. ANNOUNCEMENTOF RELIEF AND REHABILITATION PACKAGE INCLUDING THE OPENING OF A RELIEF CAMP IMMEDIATELY FOR THOSE WHOSE
HOUSES HAVE BEEN UPROOTED (25 LAKHS TO THE NEXT OF KIN OF THOSE KILLED, 15 LAKHS FOR THOSE DISABLED FOR LIFE, 10 LAKHS FOR THOSE INJURED WITH POLICE BULLETS, SUITABLE COMPENSATION TO THOSE WHOSE HOUSES, PROPERTY, BUSINESS HAS BEEN BURNT, LOOTED, DESTROYED AFTER ASSESSMENT BY A COMPETENT AGENCY ALONG WITH MEMBERS OF CIVIL SOCIETY AND NGOS).

4. PROSECUTION OF ALL THOSE POLICEMEN WHO ARE INVOLVED IN KILLING PEOPLE AND DESTROYING THEIR PROPERTY.

5. GOVERNMENT JOB TO ONE PERSON IN THE FAMILY OF THOSE KILLED / disabled for life IN POLICE BULLETS.

6. IMMEDIATE LODGING OF FIRs IN ALL CASES OF DEATH, INJURED, PROPERTY LOSS ETC.

7. IMPLEMENTATION OF TRANSFERPOLICY FOR THE POLICEPERSONNALE WHICH HAS BEENTOTALLY DISREGARDED IN DHULE.

8. ESTABLISHMENT OF AN EXTENTION CENTRE OF THE GOVERNMENTHOSPITAL WITH ALL FACILITIES IN THE MUSLIM DOMINATED AREA.

9. LIFTING OF CURFEW WITH IMMEDIATE EFFECT AND RESUMPTION OF NORMAL WORKING HOURS ESPECIALLY IN POWER LOOM SECTOR.

10. SETTING UP OF A COMMITTEE TO STUDY THE DEVELOPMENT NEEDS OF THE CITY INCLUDING JOB OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUTH.

11. IMMEDIATE STEPS TO BE TAKEN TO DE-TOXIFY THE MINDSETS OF THE POLICE AT THE STATE LEVEL, PROGRAMMES TO SENSITISE THEM ON CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS, DEMOCRACY, SECULaRALISM.

12. TO INVITE NATIONAL NGOS WORKING ON COMMUNAL HARMONY TO HELP SET UP A STRUCTURE AT THE LEVEL OF MOHALLAS FOR REGULARINTERACTION OF LOCAL PEOPLE ANDLEADERS OF ALL COMMUNITIES, FORMATION OF MOHALLA COMMITTEES.

 

 

Dhule riots: 'Cops allowed minor incident to escalate into communal clash'
New Delhi: The “communalism” of the “State machinery” allowed to escalate the communal violence in Dhule town of Maharashtra, alleged activists during a press conference here on Friday. The local police “systematically targeted Muslims” during the January 6 riots, in which six people were killed, they said.
A fact finding team comprising — rights activist Shabnam Hashmi from ANHAD, Dr Ram Puniyani of All India Secular Forum, Professor Apoorva Anand of Delhi University, Advocate Nihalsing Rathod of Human Rights Law Network and several others — visited the town to investigate the violence, the third in the region since 2008.
According to the interim report of the fact-finding team, the police allowed a minor incident to escalate into a riot-like situation. “They intervened very late. And when they did, they targeted only Muslims,” said Shabnam Hashmi.
As per testimonies collected by the team, the incident was triggered after a Muslim auto driver was beaten by the owner of an eatery in Macchi Bazar. “When the driver went to the police station to file a complaint, the officials were hostile and did not register his complaint, following which a mob gathered and people started pelting stones,” said Hashmi. “It was not a Hindu-Muslim issue, but the police only let the violence escalate,” she said.
The activists alleged connivance by the State machinery in the escalation of violence. “Why did it take the Chief Minister and the Home Minister nine days to visit the victims and order a judicial inquiry? There is a great sense of alienation and frustration among the Muslim community due to the callous response of the State,” Prof Apoorvanand said.
He said that the locals were afraid to even file a case. In the rare event of some victims gathering the courage to act, they were told by the police that a case had already been registered naming them as the accused and they could not, therefore, file a case.
He said fear within the community was so palpable that the victims refused to go to the civil hospital because riot victims in 2008 were allegedly beaten and driven away by some members of the majority community.
“The Dhule incident mirrors our society. If it is not taken seriously, the country will face a very severe struggle,” said Apoorvanand.
Speaking on this occasion, Dr Ram Puniyani said, “The incident shows the communalisation of the State machinery. The police launched an inhuman, one-sided attack on the members of the minority community.”
H said, “A total of 151 police personnel were taken to the hospital on January 6 of which 133 were discharged immediately, and all cases were described as minor.”
“When we checked the medical records of the victims, we noticed that the bullet injuries were above the waist in 90 percent of the cases. The police did not aim to disperse the crowd. It was targeted killing,” said Dr Puniyani.
“It is time to put the police in the psychiatric couch to understand what makes them brutally attack the minorities,” said film director Mahesh Bhatt. “The mindset of the entire police force is contaminated and reflects a fascist attitude,” he said.

 

 

Dy Tehsildar on #Dhule riot duty finds son ‘shot dead by cops’


FP

ZEESHAN SHAIKH : Dhule, Tue Jan 08 2013, , IE

For 33 years, Deputy Tehsildar Abdul Halim Ansari worked for the state, never doubting that it was largely fair, just and honest towards all citizens. That perception changed on Sunday, after his 30-year-old son died before his eyes, allegedly gunned down by the orders of the same administration that he has served all his life.

Ansari, 58, believes that the police shot his son in cold blood. He says not one colleague or senior official from the administration that he has been part of all his working life has visited him in his tragedy. He says that he will not return to work now; he cannot be part of a “biased” system any more.

On Sunday afternoon, as a quarrel between a Hindu street food vendor and two Muslim youths escalated into riots in communally sensitive Dhule town, 325 km north of Mumbai, Ansari received a call from work.

“One of my colleagues was injured, and I took him to hospital. I was then asked to return to office to collect safety gear and head to Machchli Bazaar where violence had broken out,” Ansari said.

“Suddenly, I received a call saying my son had been injured. I rushed to the hospital. He gestured to me to say he had been shot and asked for some water,” Ansari said. “He died in front of my eyes.”

Ansari’s son, Hafiz Asif Abdul Halim, was an Islamic scholar who had a small provision store outside his home. He had gone to Machchli Bazaar to buy the family’s weekly stock of vegetables.

“The police shot him deliberately, he had done nothing,” Ansari said. “I am not going to return to work. I can’t work for a biased system.”

The families of the three other men killed in Sunday’s firing echoed Ansari. “How can you explain a 17-year-old being shot twice in the back? How can the police shoot a kid who was trying his best to get away from them?” asked Arif Patel, the uncle of Rizwan Raees Patel, who studied in class 12.

Twenty-year-old electrician Imran Ali Qamruddin was supposed to get married this May. His brother Asif Ali said Imran had been complaining of pain in the right side of his body and had an appointment with a Mumbai doctor who was to put him through MRI and CT scans.

“I know that everyone who losses a family member in such incidents says that their relative was not involved in the riots. But I sincerely tell you that Imran never involved himself in such activities,” Asif said.

Asim Shaikh, 24, was an egg vendor who was allegedly shot by police while on his weekly round of the market, delivering eggs to shops.

“It is God’s will. Dhule suffered a lot during the riots of 2008 as well. I have faith in Allah and He will give us justice, but I pray that no father irrespective of religion should ever have to suffer the death of his young son,” Nasir Shaikh, Asim’s father, said.

 

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