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OPINION

Who will compensate the loss?

Jailed & Tortured for Terrorism; after 12 years, found innocent
DR RAJA MUZAFFAR BHAT
Srinagar | Posted : Jun 19 2017 2:48AM | Updated: Jun 19 2017 1:31AM
Who will compensate the loss?
Representational Pic

It was October 29, 2005 and Diwali the festival of lights just two days away. The markets in Delhi were abuzz and people were busy in shopping. Until 5.30 PM everything was going well, but soon a series of blasts took place at several locations causing death and destruction. It was 5:38pm when the first bomb went off around Nehru Market in Pahargang outside a Jewellery shop . Around 5:52pm, Budh Prakash bus conductor of a DTC noticed a suspicious bag lying under a seat near Okhla – Govindpuri road. There were nearly 50 passengers with him in the bus. He immediately alerted driver to stop the bus. The bomb went off when conductor threw away the bag. He suffered severe burns and lost his eyesight, but a major tragedy was averted. At around 5:56 PM a third blast occurred at Sarojini Nagar area where 37 people were reportedly dead. According to police reports 67 people were killed and more than 200 others injured in 2005 Delhi blasts. 

 

Arrest of Rafiq Ahmad Shah 

After more than a month, special cell of Delhi police arrested Rafiq Ahmad Shah, a resident of Alesteng, Srinagar during a midnight raid at his house. Rafiq who was 22 then was perusing his Masters degree in Islamic studies at Kashmir University . Showing example of an irresponsible journalism Hindustan Times filed a report on December 10th 2005 titled “This is the 29/10 bomber” wherein Rafiq was shown as the main accused in 2005 Diwali blasts. As a follow-up of this case, all the concocted reports were filed by Hindustan Times from time to time . On March 24th 2008 Greater Kashmir filed a news report after Rafiq wrote a letter during his detention at Delhi’s Tihar Jail. In his letter Rafiq said that he was brutally tortured, forced to drink his urine and was kept with a pig in the jail cell. The then Delhi Police chief, KK Paul, had in fact given Rafiq a clean chit. But the Special Cell of Delhi police claimed he was an accused. In his 2008 letter from Tihar Jail Rafiq said he was innocent and falsely implicated in the case by the Special Cell of Delhi Police in collaboration with SOG of J&K Police . “I was a regular student of the department of Islamic Studies in Kashmir University where I was pursuing Masters Degree. I was picked up by the joint team of Delhi and Kashmir police from my home at midnight,” Rafiq said in his letter. According to March 24th 2008 report of Greater Kashmir Rafiq was brutally tortured, forced to drink urine. He was kept naked and forced to suck private parts of co-accused. Rats were let into his trousers and when I cried, the police officials laughed and took his pictures with their mobile phones. To torture him & his religious sentiments, his body was touched with pig. Later he was kept locked with the pig in a single cell. “The police officials used to say ‘every Kashmiri is a terrorist.’ A gun was pointed at my forehead and I was made to sign a bundle of blank papers,” Rafiq wrote in his 2008 letter from Tihar Jail. The then vice-chancellor of Kashmir University, Prof Abdul Wahid Qureshi had testified that Rafiq was in the Islamic Studies department on the day of 2005 Delhi blasts. The reality is that Rafiq had only visited Delhi while he was a kid with his father. The then Commissioner of Delhi Police KK Paul had said in his report that Rafiq does not seem to be the Govindpuri bomber; it seems at this stage that all the bombers have fled the country. Even in annual press conference, he refrained from stating Rafiq was the actual bomber even when Special Cell had requested for test identification of the accused. The Special Cell however insisted that Rafiq was the bomber.

 

Final verdict 

On February 16 2017 Rafiq Ahmad Shah was acquitted by a Delhi court after Additional Sessions Judge Reetesh Singh acquitted him of all charges. Rafiq while talking to reporters soon after his release said that he was made an accused to assuage the public perception that Delhi Police was incompetent to act against terrorism” and that “he was a vulnerable target... made a scapegoat” . Delhi Police had relied on dubious and fake witnesses who ended up contradicting their own statements. Initially Delhi Police produced a witness namely Danbir Sharma, one of the passengers in the DTC bus. On the basis of Danbir Sharma’s description, police made a portrait, but Danbir later couldn’t identify Rafiq. After 12 years of illegal detention Rafiq is now a free man. Can Delhi Police , Government of India or any other agency compensate Rafiq for making him go through a 12 years long ordeal ? This is not the case only Rafiq Ahmad Shah , but we have dozens of such examples wherein young men were booked on the charges of terrorism on the ground that they belonged to a particular religion. Gulzar Ahmad Wani from Tappar Pattan Kashmir the then PHD scholar at Aligrah Muslim University had to spend 16 years in jail as he was accused in Sabarmati train blast which took place in year 2000. Similarly many muslim youth were tortured and arrested for their role in Mecca masjid and Malegaon blasts which was actually carried out by Rightwing Hindu organisations.