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Published in the 1-15 June 2005 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

POTA Review Committee exposes Modi government

The Milli Gazette Online

Ahmadabad: Justice Sagar Chand Jain’s POTA Review Committee held its session in Ahmadabad’s Circuit House on 5 April in which in addition to Hyderabad’s youths, Maulana Mohammad Nasiruddin’s case was taken up for hearing. Hashim Qureshi, Khalid Sheikh and Javed Pathan, all advocates, appeared in this court on behalf of many persons of Hyderabad. Lateef Mohammad Khan, secretary of Civil Liberties Committee who was present in this session, said that the POTA Review Committee held the hearing of persons arrested under POTA through video conferencing. All the persons arrested under POTA and whose hearing was fixed on that day were asked to sit in the Conference Hall.

As the proceedings started, Maulana Nasiruddin said that only we people are killed and also arrested. He asked what kind of justice is this? Denying all the accusations levelled against him, he said that he was kidnapped on the pretext of being arrested for making speeches and a false confessional statement was ascribed to him which he came to know later through newspapers. He said that Gujarat Police had shot dead a youth in Hyderabad but no one has taken care of him so far. 

Another person, Abdur Rauf, said that the police kidnapped him, took him from Hyderabad to Delhi, and from there to Ahmadabad. While he was under remand crime branch police compelled him to sign on a blank paper. 

Another person, Asghar Ali, said that his statement was extracted under duress and his name was put in blank spaces by the crime branch. Justice Jain assured all these people that justice will be done to them. 

Justice Jain asked the lawyers who also were arrested under POTA as to how and why they were arrested. They replied that they have been punished for pleading the cases of arrested people and speaking against the crime branch. 

Almost all the people arrested under POTA said that their confessional statements are false because they were threatened, beaten up and their signatures were obtained forcibly on blank papers. They also said that the crime branch has enough of arms of all types which they secretly or even openly plant in anybody’s house and later on exhibit these arms to prove that these were found with the accused. They said that they were illegally arrested and jailed. They also repeated the words of crime branch people that ‘Muslims should better be kept in jails’.

The accused repeatedly said that in Gujarat they have no hope of even getting bail. Hashim Qureshi, advocate, pleaded their cases for two hours before the Review Committee. Khalid Sheikh, advocate, and Khalid Saifullah, an advocate from Hyderabad, helped Hashim. They said in their arguments that POTA has been introduced in order to terrorise Muslims. 

The advocates also argued that if POTA is removed from the FIR, all of them will get justice as their chargesheets contain nothing except “stories” made up by the police. 

Describing the arrest of Abdur Rauf as illegal, Hashim said that this boy never even stepped inside Gujarat and there is no proof at all against him except what they call as his ‘confessional statement’. 

When asked as to how and why Maulana Nasiruddin’s name was included, Hashim said that his chargesheet was challenged in the High Court. The crime branch illegally involved him in this case. He was put under remand for seven days and subsequently put in judicial custody, but 12 days later, police in a press conference claimed to have secured Maulana’s confessional statement which is totally illegal and false.

In order to plead for removal of POTA from the chargesheets of all the Hyderabadi youths, Hashmi submitted to the committee a file based on facts which contains all the confirmed records of the court. POTA Review Committee said that its job is to see whether the imposition of POTA is justified or not and it will pronounce its verdict on the basis of records submitted to it and in the light of arguments made so far.

See “Panel sees no plot, wants Pota out”, p.11

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