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2002: Indian Muslim
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Unlawful detention of 123 Muslim delegates to an Educational Conference in Surat on 27 December 2001 and their torture under custody
Minorities Council's letter to National Human Rights Commission, Sardar Patel Bhawan,
Sansad Marg, New Delhi, dated 9 January, 2002
Dear Mr. Chairman,
We have reliably learnt that 123 Muslim delegates from various parts of the country, who were in Surat for a Muslim Educational conference being organised by Tahrik-I-Ehya-e-Ummah (Movement For Reformation of the Community) on the issue of new educational policy were arrested and detained by the police on 27 December 2001 under the pretext that they were members of the banned organisation SIMI. Those detained included senior community leaders, advocates, mediapersons, doctors and social workers.
We understand detainees including 65 year old Maulana Ataur Rahman Wajdi of Saharanpur who were remanded to 14 days police custody have been subjected to torture and third degree methods.
The following report of one such incident throws lights on the lawlessness of the Police:
Mrs. Sajida Patel, wife of Suhail Ismail Patel, one of the detainees after securing permission from the court, went to meet him at Athwa Lines Police station at about 7:45 p.m. on the 5th January 2002. In front of his wife (Mrs. Sajida Patel), the police not only used insulting and derogatory "words and expressions" against them but also severely beat him. She desperately appealed to the police personnel not to beat him and mentioned that she was meeting her husband after getting permission from Court. She also asked them why they were treating her innocent husband in such a cruel manner, the police officers then replied: "we are not bothered about your securing orders from court or ‘father of courts’, we have orders from "higher-ups" to do like this".
It needs to be kept in view that the 123 detainees were not organising any clandestine illegal meeting, but a public conference an education. That they were not members of the SIMI is apparent from the fact that most of them belonged to over thirty five years age group, whereas according to the Constitution of the SIMI no one beyond the age of 30 can be its member. Even if they had earlier been members of now banned Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), their detention is unlawful for merely their former association with SIMI.
As the Conference is one of the series being organised in the country to oppose imposition of majoritarian cultural nationalism through educational curricula, Muslims are being taught a lesson for daring to do so. It may be noted that a series of conferences and seminars have been organised on this subject in the country by a large number of educational, social and human rights organisations.
Now in the case of Surat Muslims the Government of Gujrat has taken recourse to their terrorisation, especially in the context of the present Indo-Pak Conflict.
In view of the above we urge the Commission to take expeditious measures for securing the release of all those detained, and for getting an impartial inquiry instituted into all aspects of the episode, including use of third degree methods and torture by the police.
Iqbal A. Ansari
20, Jaswant Apartments, Okhla, Jamia Nagar, New Delhi-110025
Tel.: 6324452, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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