Accused innocents, traumatized spouses and broken families

Those who criticize Islam’s position on woman as witness have their memory faultline. True, two women are required to give witness. But in numerous cases within India the single woman witness is dismissed and yet we call ourselves democratic and law-abiding. Several years have passed when a woman challenged the police to prove her son as “terrorist” for she would hang him by her hands if he was indeed a terrorist. They have not found any proof and yet he languishes in jail. That seems what the police wanted, proof or no proof.

Political parties including the ruling alliance know which side is their bread buttered. Does the majority community also see that way despite how the country is sliding down in the abyss of misrule, the law of the jungle and sure disintegration?

Afsana’s saga of suffering reads like the woeful mourning over the slow death of conscience within our society. Her husband Shakeel was brutally murdered just before he was again found not involved in another of the sixteen false cases slapped against him. She wails: “He was about to be released from jail. Why would he take such an extreme step?” He was in jail for 14 long years. The man who accused him as a bomb-maker was alleged by the police as the mastermind himself. Yet, Amir was acquitted and Shakeel remained in Dasna jail until his alleged “suicide” on 19 June 2009.

Afsana’s reason to suspect the police involvement in the murder of her husband resurfaces three years later. Mohammad Qateel Siddiqui’s most pathetic murder on 1 June 2012 tells the same story of police atrocity. Afsana had accused the police why she suspected what must have been done to her husband. “He was very scared and kept telling that the jail authorities were troubling him and would kill him one day.” Excruciating third degree torture was given to him towards the end in the 14th year of his imprisonment. There could not have been any reason to believe that this was justified. He was already acquitted and discharged in four cases. Suspicion deepens and it becomes cogent that the authorities played foul. They had already decided to finish him off, as the reasons would emerge. This is detailed hereunder a little later.

Siddiqui’s wife smelt the rat in the last week of May 2012. Yerwada jail is a high security prison. What is many times more disturbing than this is that her husband was in the so-called “anda” jail where only one prisoner is kept and observed by the security guards round the clock. How could two so-called “ultra-nationalist” criminals breach this tight security is one reason why independent and fair-minded judges should be asked to inquire into.

Five days earlier, on May 27, Siddiqui had told his wife that it was their last talk on phone. What could be the basis of this fearful premonition should also be investigated to unearth the truth. This investigation also needs a broader term of reference. Were the “ultra-nationalists” nurtured on extremism and outsourced the murder for the justification of their extremist ideology? Hindutva infiltration into the security forces like the army, police, prison and intelligence agencies, is well-established and authenticated in this so-called “war on terror”.

Abrar Ahmad’s allegations in his affidavit, Hemant Karkare’s mysterious death, Khwaja Yunus’ extra-judicial murder and a host of other such events do no credit to India. What have the “ultra-nationalists” to gain by discrediting India in the eyes of the world?

As the world focus on India’s human rights situation grows, it drove the then Home Minister P. Chidambrum to take up the matter of the murder of Siddiqui. But instead of pulling up the black sheep, the state home minister, RR Patil, on the rug he went to the official residence of the chief minister of Maharashtra. Patil is the most notorious of all home ministers of Maharashtra so far. He made a very stupid remark when he dismissed 26/11 attack on Mumbai as another usual event day of the routine crimes in Mumbai. Even so he was reinstated after the election subsequently held after the Mumbai attack. He reinstated former ATS chief KP Raghuvanshi, another black sheep notorious for his direct involvement in framing Muslim youth in 2006 blasts as well as in arms haul cases of Malegaon, Ankai, Aurangabad, etc. These rewards of official promotion speak volumes vis-à-vis Narendra Modi doing the same in the cases of atrocities committed on Muslims in which his state police were directly involved. He has flagrantly rewarded police officers for their active abetment to violence against Muslims in the genocide of 2002. He does not care a hoot for world opinion. It is immaterial if the US gives him a visa or the British foreign office rejects to open a consulate in his state. Now he wants to rope in the Chinese dragon and has shown other states gleefully what he could do in his state.

There is clear evidence available now. The police have turned a Nelson’s eye to it. For example, if they are serious and honest in their investigations, they can still call the records of the telephone conversations of Afsana and her husband in jail, or the last conversation between Siddiqui and his wife. Let the world judge what is truth.

Shakeel was arrested when his daughters were hardly a couple of years old. Now they are in their adolescence. Their mother is woebegone what with finding prospects for matches for them and the cost of their marriage. The mother ekes out existence by weaving carpets in Pilkhua, a village near Delhi and the daughters help her in the only sources of livelihood and support they have. In the maze of the patterns they weave in the warp and woof what chance of weaving a dream of one’s own for a future in this harsh world!

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-30 September 2012 on page no. 5

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