Human Rights

Hanif gets justice: Aussies apologise, pay compensation

New Delhi: Satya mev Jayate (Truth Prevails) proclaims India as her motto on her national emblem, Ashok chakra. Yes, the truth has prevailed if not in India at least in Australia where a terror accused doctor was released twenty-five days after his illegal incarceration and was paid substantial compensation alongwith an apology. The Australian government has made a formal apology and wished him good luck! This is from a country about which we are not tired in declaring it extremely racial. This is vis-à-vis our own system which for decades fails to file even a chargesheet and where inmates die in prison waiting for justice. Hundreds of innocent Muslims are languishing in jails suffering inhuman torture with no signs of relief (or justice) in sight. Prakash Hindustani in his articles “sach se jhukaya asman ko” (truth makes heaven bow) in Hindustan (26/12/10 - Hindi edition) summarises:
“He was the first person detained in Australia under anti-Terror act in 2005 (sic) [2007] and within 48 hours former premier John Howard rose in his defence. Entire India and her machinery stood behind him. He was declared non-guilty after a long legal battle lasting 13 months. In protest against this atrocity and about 30,000 Indian students left Australia which caused it loss worth several million dollars.

Dr. Hanif was arrested at Brisbane airport on 2 July 2007 while returning to India. He was accused of helping the accused involved in attack at Glasgow International airport on 30 June 2007. The accused were his relatives. As evidence it was cited that he was going to India without a return ticket and he did not have a SIM in his mobile. Hanif had argued that his wife had delivered a baby six days ago and he was reaching India to see them and that he did not have enough dollars in his account to buy return ticket.”

In its editorial dated 24 December 2010, Hindustan (Hindi) has raised certain very pertinent questions. We reproduce the translated text as it is an excellent commentary on our system: “Justice to Hanif: The Australian govt apologised to Dr. Hanif and also agreed to compensate him, can we expect such a conduct from our government?

An Indian doctor Muhammad Hanif was arrested in Australia three years ago for his alleged involvement in terror activities. He was released a few days later after investigations. Now the Australian government has made a formal apology to him and he will be given a substantial sum as compensation. Dr. Hanif kept battling to prove his innocence for removing the blot on his integrity and ultimately he triumphed. Obviously, his success would invite reactions in our country and those who are scared because of such incidents shall feel a little relieved. In fact, after the extension of terror activities globally several countries are highly scared and in order to ensure security for their citizens take certain actions which pose a threat to common man’s freedom and integrity. Since Taliban and al-Qaeda are indulging in terror acts in the name of Islam, Muslims become an easy target of such measures – especially those who belong to Asia or Africa. In such circumstances, Dr. Hanif’s example is highly inspiring. Instead of feeling scared, he successfully carried out the campaign to prove his innocence. In this, Australian judiciary and media also deserve high appreciation as they helped Dr. Hanif in ensuring quick justice. Australian government’s role in this matter has been extremely praiseworthy – it apologised and agreed to pay compensation. Hence, it is no surprise that Hanif wants to return to Australia and practice there again.

“We should feel happy finding that a youngman from our country succeeded in ensuring justice, but this matter compels us to introspect. We promptly support an Indian seeking justice in Australia but how many youngmen are behind bars in our own country for their alleged involvement in terror acts for years. What to hope for justice when even chargeshets have not been filed. In our country, terrorism or treason are such charges which, if levelled against anyone, leave no chance of release. Several persons have been nabbed alleged as spies. Very few persons ever ask that question why only Meerut cant’s map is invariably found with every one of them? Where are the youngmen accused of bomb blasts in Delhi? It is not that all of them are innocent, but is meting out justice in time and to provide relief to innocents merely an Australian responsibility and not India’s too? Can we expect from India to decide case of an innocent within a few days and after apologising pay him compensation too? If we respect rights of our citizens, then only shall we have the right to demand [such conduct] from others. When such circumstances prevail at home, then only we shall have a right to celebrate Dr. Hanif’s triumph.”

Needless to say the entire system – judiciary, bar councils and specially the most vociferous media, all play a role in denial of justice. The media that sensationalises and encashes the incidents should get exposed.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 January 2011 on page no. 8

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