#India – Why Special Cell will continue to manufacture dreaded terrorists

Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association


Last year, JTSA compiled and released a report documenting 16 cases where the Delhi Police, especially its Special Cell, had framed innocents as terrorists. An overwhelming number of these unfortunate men were from Kashmir. Despite the fact that we cited court judgements which reprimanded the Cell for refusing to join independent witnesses, for willfully violating established procedures, for illegally detaining accused and showing their arrests on later dates; for fabricating evidence and failing to provide an iota of evidence in support of their charges – neither the leadership of the Delhi police nor the Home Ministry felt the need for any enquiry.


Many of these prize catches of the Special Cell happened to be either police or IB informers, surrendered militants, or men with whom one agency or the other had a score to settle. To that extent, Special Cell’s latest, sensational Holi gift – of having foiled a major terror attack in the capital city by Hizbul Mujahideen – follows the set narrative. What the Special Cell did not bargain for was the contestation of their great feat by the J and K police, who clearly said that Liaqat Shah was a former militant who was returning to Kashmir as part of the state government’s rehabilitation policy for surrendered militants.  So, to its utter surprise, the Special Cell was not greeted by instant glory, but by an unusual bad press.


But again, predictably, the MHA has rushed to the defence of the pampered Special Cell.  It is this continuing impunity which has emboldened agencies to pick, detain, arrest and charge people with terrorism. Three of the four officers of the Special Cell in the current ‘Hizb operation’ feature rather prominently in the JTSA report: DCP Sanjeev Yadav was key player in five of the 16 cases in Framed, Damned, Acquitted; Sanjay Dutt in six and Rahul Kumar in seven. It should be recalled also that DCP Sanjeev Yadav was indicted by the NHRC for masterminding the fake encounter at Sonia Vihar in 2006 (when he was an ACP).  We demand that the magisterial enquiry into the encounter conducted by the then Divisional Commissioner, Shri Vijay Dev, be made public immediately.  We fear that there is a concerted attempt to suppress the report of the magisterial enquiry.


Till this impunity ends, we shall continue to witness these press conferences, the display of seized arms and explosives, the conferring of medals and gallantry awards, and the manufacturing of fidayeens.


Released by jamia teachers solidarity association



Muslim Prejudice-‘I’m jobless. I can’t start a business also because friends refuse me loans’

‘I’m jobless. I can’t start a business also because friends refuse me loans’

Syed Wasif Haider
Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh
Age 40 | Years In Jail 8
Arrested July 2001 | Acquitted August 2009

Syed Wasif Haider

Photo: Vijay Pandey

SYED WASIF HAIDER, a resident of Kanpur, UP, was jailed for eight years, before the courts finally acquitted him of all charges on 14 August 2009. As a part of the delegation meeting the president on 18 November, he had only one thing to say: “Please stop the media from defaming me. I was declared innocent in 2009. Yet, the local media drags my name in whenever there’s a blast. I’m facing a social boycott. Children in the locality don’t play with a ‘terrorist’s’ daughters. Relatives feel police will hound them for visiting me.”

After his arrest, nine cases, including rioting, waging war against the State, sedition, ferrying arms and explosives were slapped against Haider. Every single case fell apart because the courts either refused to entertain the confessional statement made in police custody (which often found space in the media) or found the witnesses “unable to establish” that Haider had a role in the Kanpur bomb blasts of 14 August 2000 and other offences.

At the time of his arrest, Haider was 29. The only son of his parents, he left behind a pregnant wife and three children, while he spent eight years shuttling between Kanpur Jail, the Navi Central Jail in Allahabad and the Central Prison in Fatehgarh.

TEHELKA met Haider at his lawyer friend’s house in east Delhi. Here, this wellbuilt man in his early forties lives with his memories. Recounting his trauma, he says the police hung him upside down in a dark cell for three days after picking him up. Then they pushed washing powder and water down his nose. Then electricity was passed through his toes till he fainted. His torturers never left any mark on his body because that would have muddied their FIR claims. Interestingly, the interrogation also included questions on what sect of Islam he followed.

“I replied I was a Muslim, but they insisted on sect and ideology. Later I realised if one follows Salafist Islam, it becomes easy for them to label him a Lashkar-e-Toiba loyal. Sunni Barelvi groups would be linked with Hizbul Mujahideen,” Haider says.

Unable to bear it anymore, Haider finally gave in to the torture, agreeing to confess on video camera to whatever the police wanted. In the confession made under duress, Haider said he was trained by the Hizbul Mujahideen in Kashmir and Pakistan — information that found its way to the media.

“My wife had to sell her jewellery to make ends meet,” says Haider. “Some 38 lakh went into meeting legal expenses (the case went right up to Supreme Court). Today I’m jobless. I can’t start a business because friends refuse me loans. Wherever I go looking for a job, once they learn about my eight years in jail, companies tell me they will get back to me. They never get back.”

Incredibly, even after the courts acquitted Haider, the media did not stop its trial. Thanks to “anonymous sources”, and a total disregard for accountability, some blast or the other was always linked with Kanpur, and not surprisingly, Haider’s name would crop up. For instance, the Dainik Jagran dated 9 December 2010 had a news item on a terror attack that suggested the likelihood of links with Kanpur and mentioned Haider along with others as ‘atanki’ (terrorist).

Holding up the Dainik Jagran dated 9 January 2011 as an example, Haider shows a headline, which after translation reads: “Garbage Overwhelms Basketball Court”. Then he shows the next day’s paper (10 January 2011) which says: “Garbage Being Lifted from Basketball Court”. “This is the impact of the media,” says Haider. “Now imagine how I was demonised.”

Haider has filed a case against Dainik Jagran in the Allahabad High Court. Cases are also pending against Amar Ujala and Dainik Hindustan.

Baba Umar is a Senior Correspondent with Tehelka.


A brave chronicler of Kashmir’s militancy- George Joseph

George Joseph’s determined reportage from J&K is testimony to the importance of a journalist’s role in a conflict situation.

Aasha Khosa  writes

My dearest husband, friend and colleague George Joseph passed away on February 27. While our daughter and I are in deep mourning, I feel compelled to narrate the story of an extraordinary journalist, with whom I shared my life with for 21 years. George had risked his life to uphold professional values. His reporting from Kashmir during the most turbulent years of militancy gave glory to the the profession of journalism; even today it is testimony to the importance of a journalist’s role in a conflict situation.

George Joseph arrived in Srinagar in the autumn of 1989 to the deathly sound of Kalashnikovs in a situation that was to soon to turn into a full-fledged insurgency. The pro-Pakistan Hizbul Mujahideen was rising as a gang of ruthless killers. The Hizb had nearly wiped out the ideologically moderate Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF). In Srinagar, the word “India” was anathema to the proponents of the so-called (freedom) movement. “Hindustanikutta”(Indian dog) was the choicest abuse. However, in surcharged and communally polarised Kashmir, George’s religion and his South Indian ethnicity were seen as a neutral factor by militant supporters.

George reported extensively on the dramatic news events of that time. Be it Rubaiya Sayeed’s abduction or the Gaw Kadal massacre, he was out there covering it. In February, Lassa Kaul, Director, Doordarshan Kendra, was killed. George was shocked to realise the complicity of the people around him. “There is treachery in everything around us,” he would say later. He was aghast that no Kashmiri priest came forward to perform Kaul’s last rites. It was eventually done by an army priest. A month later, militants had killed P.L. Handoo, an assistant director in the Information Department.

That was when Governor Jagmohan advised three journalists working for national dailies — Hindustan TimesIndian Express and Times of India — to leave the Valley as he feared they would be the next targets. Overnight they had to leave for Jammu. However, George defied Jagmohan’s diktat. He returned to Srinagar, much to the dislike of those in power and even some of his colleagues.

Series of abductions

After our marriage in February 1991, I shifted to Srinagar, from where I worked for the Tribune. During our first summer, there were a number of abductions: Indian Oil executive K. Doraiswamy, Bihar MLA S.P. Sinha, REC Principal R.L. Wakhloo are some of those that I remember spent months as captives of militants. One day, militants deposited a human finger in the PTI office, which was next to George’s. That day we could feel the danger around us. If it was a finger today, tomorrow it could be a severed head.

A year later, on a cold March afternoon, we received a call from the Hizbul Mujahideen spokesperson. The caller told George that the Hizb had split. The Hizb leader, Master Ahsan Dar, had been charged with embezzlement of funds and expelled after a brief imprisonment by his own cronies. George asked him to provide proof. The caller told us that the Hizb had issued a formal press release to the local media about it a day before. However, on the advice of their Pakistani handlers, they had instructed the media to black out the news. The caller arranged to drop the original handout in our letter box. The Hizbul Mujahideen split was the turning point in the history of the insurgency, and George and I were the only ones to report it.

Read The Hindu article here



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October 2021
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