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Prof AR Geelani

On 28 December prominent human rights and academic personalities issued the following press statement about Prof AR Geelani of Delhi University who has been arrested for an alleged role in the 13 December attack on the Parliament. Geelani denies these charges:

‘On the request of Dr AR Geelani's family the undersigned had gone to see Dr. Geelani in Tihar Jail on 27-12-2001. However, only Mr. N.D.Pancholi, lawyer and Vice-President of the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), was allowed to see him. Dr. Geelani categorically told Mr. Pancholi that he is totally innocent and that he has no connection whatsoever with any terrorist activity or organisation. He did not deny that he knew Afzal and Shaukat, but only as fellow Kashmiris. He reiterated that he has been falsely implicated and wished that his case is viewed sympathetically by democratic organisations, particularly his parent body the Delhi University Teachers' Association (DUTA).’ The statement is signed by N.D.Pancholi, Vice-President, PUCL, Prof. Anand Chakravarti, Delhi University, Dr. Tripta Wahi, Executive Member, DUTA, Delhi University, Mr. V.K.Khurana, Delhi University, Mr. Vijay Singh, Delhi University.

Later, on 2 January prominent intellectuals issued the following report:‘
‘WE the undersigned are alarmed at the tendentious reporting on the alleged involvement of Syed Abdul Rehamn Geelani in the December 13 attack on Parliament. In contrast the media has not carried his side of the story. As it is, having been charged under POTO, an innocent person has very little chance of escaping destruction of his/her life and liberty. 

‘In a number of visits by several teachers and civil rights activists to Syed Abdul Rehman Geelani in Tihar Jail he has insisted that he is innocent of the charges levelled against him. He was picked up on the day of the incident from outside the Khalsa college and taken to some farm house where he was stripped and hung upside down,then beaten and filthiest communal abuses were hurled at him. During the third degree that he was subjected to he was made to sign on blank papers as well as a statement that he was not tortured. When he was presented before the magistrate in his chamber several high ranking police officers were present. He chose to keep quiet when asked whether he was maltreated fearing further physical abuse. However,he refused to make any "confession" since he maintained he was innocent. He told us that when he asked one of the officers who was interrogating him what was his crime he was told "you are educated". We believe Geelani's guilt is that he is an educated Kashmiri Muslim. 

‘Currently in judicial custody he was removed from ward 8 which houses Kashmiri detenues to ward 2 which houses people charged with heinous crimes. We fear for his life because everytime he is taken out of his solitary cell other detenues bray for his life. 

‘The paranoia exhibited by the authorities is such that his wife and two children, both minors, were kept in Lodhi road police station for three days and their wherebaouts were hidden from their family and friends. 

‘We appeal to every democratic minded person to protest his persecution especially for projecting him as guilty without establishing the charges made against him. The rule of law in a democracy demands presumption of innocence. We, therefore, demand the withdrawal of application of POTO and for restoration of his civil liberties including his teaching position.’

(The report is signed by ND Pancholi, Anand Chakravarti, Tripta Wahi, Vijay Singh, Tapan Bose, KM Singh, Rajesh Tyagi, Vinod Khurana and Gautam Navlakha).

It is strange that no Muslim organisation has come to Prof. Geelani’s defence. He maintains that he is innocent. Although the police publicised the version of one of the accused, Afzal, nothing is known about what Prof. Geelani has said in his statement to the police. But his college has hastened to place him on suspension even before a court of law has pronounced him guilty.
(Inputs from MC Menon, Trivandrum)

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