Human Rights

“The NIA will not do anything wrong”: Malegaon 2006 near denouement

Malegaon: The question of granting bail to the two accused in Malegaon blast of September 29, 2008, Shyam Bhavarlal Sahu and Shivranaryan Kalsangra, has again foregrounded the denial of bail to the nine accused in Malegaon blasts of September 8, 2006. Of course, we are fair-minded enough not to have this situation amidst us on the ground that the two are Hindus and have been let off and the nine are Muslims and therefore they must languish in jail. In fact, the judge did indeed use the word “languish” in granting the bail to the two. Therefore, what are the compulsions behind the appearance of this phenomenon?

Shivnarayanan is the real brother of the accused offender and absconder Ramchander @ Ramji Kalsangra. According to ATS, Ramji had given his brother two bomb timers to keep. This is veritably a material connection. Shyam was a dealer in SIM cards and had sold SIM cards to Ramji. Over a period of several years, timers have been used by Kalsangra and his accomplices to make and explode bombs. If the brother was aware of the work of Ramchander he could not be presumed to not have known the kind of work Ramji was doing. Furthermore, the arrest of Shivnarayanan Kalsangra was on the account of “statements of witnesses.” Even so Justice AM Thipsay ruled: “The NIA which has taken over the probe recently from the state ATS, has been unable to point out specific evidence against the two accused and are claiming that the probe is still on, the trial is not yet started in the case and in such circumstances the accused is not required to languish in jail.” It means that the judge refuses to consider them guilty even when the ATS presumes them to be guilty.

Presumption of guilt cannot make an accused guilty. Justice Geeta Mittal while removing the ban on Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) observed: “You (the government) say that SIMI is connected to bombs blasts, riots, (and) destructive activities. Place specific material before me; you cannot presume their involvement.” Thus discrepancy surfaces in the case of 2006. All the nine accused of Malegaon 2006 case are alleged to be members of SIMI based on their forced confessions under torture. There is no material evidence to link them to bomb blasts.

Even the Union Home Minister Mr P Chidambrum is vague and may be afraid to be candid when he said on August 4, 2011 about the three scenarios of terrorism. The first is that India was the epicenter of terror but now it has shifted to Afghanistan. The second is the home-grown terrorists like SIMI now morphed as “Indian Mujahideen.” And the third is the nascent growth of the rise of the right wing terrorists or fascists groups. Then, making a sweeping generalization, he goes on to say that “The home-grown terror groups, as popularly believed, do not practice one religion.” What ordinarily we would infer is that the right wing and the fascists and the home-grown are desi terrorists, be they Muslims or Hindus or Sikhs or Christians. He acknowledges that there is unconvincing belief that all these terrorists belong to one faith or religion. This has “led agencies to wrongly put young men in jail for several years for no fault of theirs.”

This raises the moot question: are all the nine accused in 2006 Malegaon case innocent? They happen to be Muslims. As against the nine of 2006, there are twelve accused in the case of the Malegaon 2008 case. They happen to be Hindus. There is material difference. The kind of torture the Muslims have undergone seems to be altogether absent in the case of the Hindus. Some of them have been even pampered. Lt. Col. Shrikant Purohit has been favoured with a laptop in prison with Internet connection. He can now email whatever applications his wife wants to give to court or else how would she know what to write! This is the world of Alice in Wonderland. There is Major Ramesh Upadhyay who would like the court to ban factories around the prison so that they could spend time in jail in a healthy atmosphere. There is Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur who pretends to be sick and wants ayurvedic treatment which the allopath doctors of JJ Hospital are giving her. When she does not want to leave Bhind province, as she had spent her childhood there, the police fly her back to Mumbai in a plane. The other group of nine has no imagination to even think of these!

As expected, this has led to the most unheard of things. Purohit says that he has aided and abetted his fellow members of Abhinav Bharat but he does not think this is terrorism. “Even the (MCOCA) sanctioning order does not say that I (Purohit) have committed any terror attack. I have only aided and abetted.” This kind of nefarious argument would open Pandora’s Box of trouble and would take India back into the darkness of the Middle Ages. For, what does Purohit’s lawyer mean when he says that his client’s crimes are “a continued unlawful activity but not an organised crime.” Was attacking Malegaon with bombs twice, in 2006 and 2008, not an organized crime? Was stealing RDX from army stock not a crime? Is giving out RDX for blowing Samjhauta Express not an organized crime? Is selling government-seized guns not an organized crime? Is procuring fake military IDs not an organized crime? Purohit and others are neck-deep into all these. All these were well organized and connected activities.

Thus the National Investigation Agency has no other option except to call a spade a spade. It has taken the first clear and bold step not to oppose bail application of the nine accused in 2006 Malegaon blasts case. They would breathe the air of freedom soon. It will be in the fitness of things that their fellow countrymen cutting across all religious groups should not just heave a sigh of relief but rejoice that justice will ultimately prevail.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 August 2011 on page no. 11

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