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Eminent intellectuals form panel for Geelani’s defence

New Delhi: A group of human rights activists and social workers has formed a committee for the defence of the Syed Abdur Rehman Geelani, an accused in the case attack on Indian Parliament on December 13 last year.

Headed by eminent sociologist, Rajni Kothari, the "All India Defence Committee for Syed Abdur Rehman Geelani" has members including Booker Prize winner, Arundhati Roy, political activist and writer, Surendra Mohan, social activists, Aruna Roy and Babu Mathew, top Hindi journalist Parbhash Joshi and others. 

"We are focussing on the case of Geelani, a reader of Delhi university, because he seems to have been singled out by the government and its agencies," chairman of the committee, Rajni Kothari told MG.

On August 17, a co-prisoner in Tihar jail, Sohan Singh, attacked Geelani with a razor blade and used abusive language against him. Two other co-prisoners intervened and saved Geelani from him.

Kothari said that the committee was concerned because of the fact that there was little evidence against Geelani, the prosecution has chosen to impose the disabilities of POTO on him five days after his arrest. Geelani was arrested on December 14 in connection with the attack on Parliament after his phone was intercepted by police on which some terrorist had made a call. 

"The fact that they did not do so in the first instance when this is textbook case of terrorism seems to indicate that POTO was imposed to deny him the right to bail and to introduce evidence which they could not have done without taking recourse to this draconian law," said a member of the committee .

The chargesheet reveals that no arms, ammunition or any incriminating evidence was found either during the body search of Geelani or of his house. "The only piece of evidence against Geelani which the persecution has is an intercepted telephone call he had received on December 14. 2001," the committee said. 

According to a committee member, Geelani has throughout his life at the Delhi university been active in taking up issues relating to secularism, human rights and relief work during natural calamities.

"The most important questions that trouble many concerned citizens is whether he is being victimised for voicing his opposition to the right wing majoritarian attack on secularism, and is he being punished for lamenting the erosion of civil and democratic space due to excesses committed by the uniformed forces," asked Surendar Mohan.

"If we fail to distinguish between democratic dissent and terrorism, it will not augur well for the future of democracy in this country," he said.

Meanwhile, in a letter to a committee member from the jail, Geelani said "the murder of innocent, violation of dignity, maiming justice, these are all horrendous instances of terrorism. There is a need of all possible steps and efforts to see the end of terror. I have always strived to work for this purpose and still wish to continue it", he wrote.

¯ MG Correspondent

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