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200 university teachers seek fair trial for accused Kashmiri professor

New Delhi: More than 200 teachers of Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru University have written to the Chief Justice of India seeking fair trial for Syed Abdur Rahman Geelani, a Kashmiri professor of Arabic at Delhi’s Zakir Hussain College.

They said Geelani had been denied his rights under ordinary criminal law as well as his constitutional protection, and even safeguards under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA). Geelani was arrested with three others on December 14 last year under POTA for alleged involvement in the attack on parliament a day earlier.

"We fully realise the gravity of the charge against the four accused and the implications of an attack on the prime institution of our democracy. However, we are equally concerned about the growing trend of human rights being violated by the executive with impunity. Unfortunately, the legislature encourages this trend by promulgating extraordinary laws which undermine the rights enshrined in our Constitution," the teachers said.

The teachers pointed out to a series of instances where the constitutional and legal safeguards were not provided to Geelani. The teachers said they were afraid "the principles of justice and fair play are apparently being ignored."

They said they were "not only in defence of a well-loved and respected teacher but also because the ideals and values on which our country’s democracy is founded are being eroded by politics of prejudice and hatred."

Meanwhile, in another statement, the All India Defence Committee for Syed Abdur Rahman Geelani, led by famous sociologist Rajni Kothari said Geelani had been a victim of prejudice and communal hostility ever since he was arrested on December 14, 2001.

Geelani was taken to a Delhi farm house and tortured. Even his wife and two small children were whisked away and detained by the police. Despite brutal torture Geelani refused to give a false confession.

Kothari said even before the trials began, Geelani was subjected to trial by media. Planted media reports made all kinds of wild allegations quoting the "confession" Geelani had never made.

The committee for Geelani’s legal defence comprises leading writers, academics, journalists and public figures.

"The trial of Abdur Rahman Geelani raises questions, which touch the very future of Indian democracy. Our concern is with defending the right to fair trial of a courageous man and of defending the values enshrined in our Constitution," the committee said.

Geelani was attacked with a razor blade on August 17 by a co-prisoner in Delhi’s Tihar jail. That incident causes worry to the committee about Geelani’s safety in prison.

Member of the committee, Surendra Mohan, one of the senior leaders of the country’s socialist movement said, "The most important question that troubles many concerned citizens is whether he is victimised for voicing his opposition to the right-wing majoritarian attack on secularism, and is being punished for lamenting the erosion of civil and democratic space due to excesses committed by uniformed forces."

¯ MG News Desk

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