“Even your Allah cannot help you; I am your Allah here”

In a press conference held at Delhi by Jamiat Ulama-e Hindi on 20 May, Maulana Arshad Madni said that terrorism has nothing to do with any religion yet Muslims are still being implicated in false and fictitious terror cases. Maulana Madni said his organisation has been busy fighting cases of such innocent persons since long and the acquittal of six persons on 16 May in the Akshardham attack case is a major success in these efforts.

The press conference was attended by five persons exonerated of all charges and set free by the Supreme Court on 16 May.

Press conference held at Delhi by Jamiat Ulama-e Hindi on 20 May

Maulana Madni said media’s attitude has been negative. It highlights when someone is arrested but ignores if the same person is honourably acquitted years later. Media played this same role in the case of the Akshardham accused who were acquitted on 16 May after spending 11 years in jail.

Maulana Madni said he has complete faith in the judiciary  and will continue to fight these cases. When these people were arrested, he said, media screamed saying  police has achieved a great success but it kept mum when they were acquitted. He said that the biggest criminal is the person who held the [Union] home portfolio at that time who kept hammering into people’s minds that Muslims were terrorists. He said we demand action against those police officers who implicated these people in false cases.

The accused were awarded varying sentences - Altaf Hasan Akbar Hasan Malik - 5 years imprisonment, Adam Bhai Sulaiman Bhai Ajmeri - death by hanging; Muhammad Sultan Muhammad Haneef Shaikh - life imprisonment; Abdul Qayyoom Mufti - death by hanging; Abdullah Miyan Yasin Miyan Mansoori - 10 years imprisonment and Shan Miyan - life imprisonment. The sentences were confirmed by Gujarat High Court although the confessions were obtained through third degree torture.

Maulana Madni said he will file a fresh PIL in the Supreme Court seeking compensation for these people. He said there are some accused languishing in jails for the last 20 years. They have grayed in jails while their parents have lost their sight due to  constant weeping for their children. Maulana Madni said the home minister under UPA, Shiv Raj Patel, was an RSS man who indulged in implicating innocent youths in fake cases. He said we have spent Rs 52.24 lakh (5.224 m) on this case alone. He added that JuH is fighting the cases of 350 persons and has been successful in a number of cases.

Sulaiman Bhai Ajmeri said, “My family was ostracized by society. Only a few gathered the courage to support me for they knew the real Sulaiman - a poor mechanic who worked with his father to make ends meet,” he said adding that the only hope for “terrorists” like him and his five co-accused was the judiciary. Azam Ajmeri, one of the accused, said that the jail staff in general treated them well as if they knew that these people were innocent.

Mufti Abdul Qayyoom said police intercepted him on 17 August 2003 when he was on his way to Masjid Sakhi to perform Maghrib prayer. He was taken into custody on the pretext of interrogation and was taken to a certain place where he was tortured. Tears rolled down his eyes when he remembered those days. He said, ACP G. L. Singhal pressured me saying cooperate with people who have come from Hyderabad. He kept telling me to accept what they wanted me to say. For this they tortured me day and night, hitting me at least 300 times with a stick. This continued until 24 August when they took me to the court. Mufti Qayyoom said Singhal had already prepared a story and wanted me to sign on the dot.  He said that D G Vanzara, who was later arrested and lodged in the same prison, asked him for forgiveness. Mufti Abdul Qayum recounted how he was forced to sign the confessional statement prepared by the police under coercion. “The police tortured and forced me to write the letters. Later they claimed the same letters were found from the pockets of the fidayeen killed during the Akshardham attack. But the SC noticed that the letters were clean, not torn or soiled/stained with blood or soil - which was highly unnatural and improbable as the terrorists’ bodies were covered with blood and mud, and their clothes had multiple tears and holes due to the bullets,” Qayyum recounted.

Mufti Abdul Qayyoom added that both Vanzara and Singhal, who had implicated him, later came to the same jail where they met these people on a number of occasions and expressed their remorse and asked for forgiveness. Mufti Abdul Qayyoom said when news came that Singhal’s son had tried to commit suicide, he met Singhal and offered him his sympathies which made Singhal sentimental and he asked Mufti Qayyoom: what can I do for you?

Maulana Abdullah Miyan said he was going to the Kederyapur Mosque in Ahmedabad to lead the Fajr prayers when he was ordered by the police to go with them for interrogation. Crime Branch officer Ashok Chauhan took him to his office where he was tortured day in and day out. He was subjected to third degree. When he used to call “Allah” while crying, DG Vanzara used to tell him, “your Allah cannot save you; I am your Allah now”. 

Muhammad Saleem said he was arrested on 1 August and was badly thrashed - so much so that he suffered a fracture in his leg. They used to make him lie down on his back and rode on his shoulders hitting  on his waist with belts and sticks.

Muhammad Altaf said that he was only two days into marriage when he was arrested on 6 August 2003. He was constantly beaten but was not told why he had been arrested. His only crime was that he had collected funds for the relief of Gujarat riot victims and was trying to help people in camps. The police was trying to force him to accept that he had helped terrorists.

Adam Bhai said he was arrested at 1:30 am and was taken to the Crime Branch office in Guekwad Haveli where he was interrogated about the riots. He told them I don’t know anything, for which he was tortured and accused of doing recce.
The sixth person, Chand Khan, has gone to his home town of Barielly after his acquittal and release.

Maulana Gulzar Azmi, who looks after these cases, said these people  were accused on ten counts and all were proved fictitious in the Supreme Court.

Qayyum and the other victims of “State terror” will move to the Supreme Court for compensation for the precious 11 years of their lives that were “wasted in most inhumane manner”.

Meanwhile, JD(U) on 21 May accused BJP leader Amit Shah and Gujarat govt of “misusing” state machinery “against a particular community” and demanded that other such cases should be transferred out of that state. JD (U) general secretary KC Tyagi said, “SC judgement clearly raises the doubt on the intention of Gujarat govt against the innocents and minorities in their state. BJP has called cases against Amit Shah in three staged killing as politically motivated. “If cases against Shah are politically motivated then why not such cases of innocents like Adambhai Sulemanbhai Ajmeri and Abdul Qayyoom should also be treated as politically motivated?”. Tyagi said, “strict actions are required against police officials and the then Home Minister for implicating innocent people in false cases and making their family lives miserable.” 

Read also:  SC acquits Akshardham convicts, slams Gujarat Police and Home Minister [Modi]

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 June 2014 on page no. 3

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