Dossiers of a “Very” Special Cell

Book: Framed, Damned, Acquitted: Dossiers of a ‘Very’ Special Cell
Publisher: Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association (JTSA)
1st Edition, September 2012
Pages: 200 (also available in Hindi)
(Available from Pharos Media & Publishing Pvt Ltd)
Mahtab Alam

Senior serving IPS officer Dr N C Asthana and his wife Dr Anjali Nirmal (the latter holds a doctorate in Police administration) in the preface of their latest book, “India’s Internal Security: The Actual Concern” while writing about police and its modus operandi observe: “In case after case, the pattern of stupidity has been the same. The Police claim to receive ‘secret information’ from an unnamed informer about a meeting or a suspicious character at a certain location. They reach the spot, search the premises, find ‘unlawful material’ such as pamphlets and CDs, some easily available weapon, some powder or liquid that is described as a powerful explosive, on the person or persons present there, and arrest them. All sorts of professional mistakes are committed. The fact of having received the secret information is never recorded anywhere. No search warrant is obtained. The fact of their leaving the police station is never recorded in the General Dairy. Search witnesses are always stock witnesses of the police, in spite of the courts having commented adversely on the practice. Seized material is hardly ever secured in a foolproof, tamperproof manner. All this is done to provide scope for manipulation. And to cap the lot, once the arrested person is in police custody, he is miraculously stuck by remorse a few days later and volunteers ‘confession’-never mind that they withdraw them later”.  

While at the face of it, despite being hundred percent true, these observations might sound like scenes from some famous Hindi film or pulp crime fiction but the important question here is: Is it just stupidity and lack of professionalism or something else? The fact is that this has become the ‘rule of the day’ for police officials ‘investigating’ cases of terrorism.

The book under review, “Framed, Damned, Acquitted: Dossiers of a ‘Very’ Special Cell”, a report brought out by civil rights group, Jamia Teachers Solidarity Association (JTSA) presents startling facts in this regard. The report, which is entirely based on the Court judgments and official documents clearly brings out how these police cell officials, often considered as the most prestigious and given unaccounted powers and money, are involved in cases of fabrication of innocents, manufacturing evidence and forging documents; and mind it, this is not because of mere stupidity, lack of professionalism or procedural lapses but to earn money, fame and medals--all by framing innocents all in the name of fighting the so-called war against terror.

The present volume documents 16 such cases and the writers of the report have rightly pointed out, “the cases we present here are only the proverbial tip of the iceberg, and simply indicative of the extent of the malaise affecting our policing and criminal justice system.”

In the 2005 case of State vs. Saqib Rehman, Bashir Ahmed Shah, Nazir Ahmed Sofi, Haji Gulam Moinuddin Dar, Abdul Majid Bhat, Abdul Qayoom Khan and Birender Kumar Singh, Judge Virender Bhat, Additional Sessions Judge at Dwarka Courts, New Delhi while acquitting the accused year later in 2011, writes: “They [accused] are totally innocent and have been framed in this case by the aforesaid four police officers in order to achieve their personal gains and/or to settle petty personal scores, be that at the behest of one Major Sharma, whose attempts to persuade accused Gulam Moinuddin Dar to work for him in getting the militants surrendered in Kashmir were spurned by him (Gulam Moinuddin Dar) or to earn undue honours or awards for themselves.” The judge further noted, “Viewed from any angle, the encounter alleged to have been taken place on the night intervening between 01.7.05 and 02.7.05, did not take place at all and an absolutely fake encounter has been projected. The story of the encounter was carefully scripted in the office of Special Staff, Delhi Police, Dhaula Kuan, by its main author SI Ravinder Tyagi with the assistance of SI Nirakar, SI Charan Singh and SI Mahender Singh. All these four police officers have acted in advancement of their self-interests in total disregard to the demands of their solemn duty. These four police officers, whose duty was to protect and safeguard the citizens, have turned persecutors and tormentors.”

The judge did not stop there in his judgment delivered on 2 February 2011. He went on to write: “These four police officers have brought utter shame and disrepute to the whole Delhi Police force. In my opinion, there cannot be any more serious or grave crime than a police officer framing an innocent citizen in a false criminal case. Such tendency in the police officers should not be viewed or dealt with lightly but needs to be curbed with a stern hand. I, therefore, direct the Commissioner of Police, Delhi, to initiate appropriate enquiry against the four police officers S I Ravinder Tyagi, SI Nirakar, SI Charan Singh and SI Mahender Singh [who by now may have been promoted to the post of Inspector] for the misuse and abuse of their powers as a police officer, as detailed herein-above. The enquiry shall be completed within three months from today, and report be submitted to this Court on the next date of hearing. The SHO, Police Station Kapasahera is also directed to register an FIR against the aforesaid four police officers u/s. 167 IPC and forward the same to the Addl. Commissioner of Police (South/West) who shall conduct investigation which shall be completed within three months from today and a report be submitted to this Court on the next date of hearing. A copy of the FIR shall be sent to this Court within one month from today.” What is important to note here is that, till date, no such action has been taken. These officers are not only enjoying all the benefits of their service, including promotion, but have also been entrusted to investigate new cases. When asked under RTI, what has been done following the court judgment, the Special Cell replied that they have challenged the judgment in the higher court. That too at the cost of public money!

And what was the case against these innocents, who had to spend six years of their life in jail and are now forced to live a life with the ‘terror tag’, for no crime? According to the prosecution, on 27 June 2005 a secret informer apprised Ravinder Tyagi - then posted as SI in Special Branch of Dhaula Kuan - of the nefarious designs of two Kashmiri terrorists, Masood and Zahid. Tyagi asked his source to develop this information further and on 1 July 2005, the secret informer resurfaced with the valuable news that the two terrorists along with two associates, ferrying a huge consignment of arms and ammunition, were headed into Delhi from Jaipur in a blue Tata Indica (HR26S0440). Tyagi led a police party and sat waiting on the national highway. On 2 July 2005, in the early hours, the police party spotted a blue Tata Indica coming towards Delhi. After a chase-involving cross firing and hurling of hand grenades, the terrorists were apprehended, and a terrorist attack was successfully averted. “Zahid” was revealed to be Moinuddin Dar. However, in the court, during cross examination the deposition of the star witness Ravinder Tyagi crumbled under the scrutiny of the judge. Tyagi could not reveal to the court the identity of his secret informer. Nor could he reply as to why he felt no urgency to inform the IB or his seniors about the impending terror strike. The Court firmly held that no one could be convicted on the basis of secret information which could not be “tested on the touchstone of the cross examination by the accused”. Moreover, regarding the Army uniform seized from the “terrorists” at the time of the arrest, the witness turned out to be a stock witness of the police. The witness, a tailor from the Gopinath Bazar in Delhi Cantonment area, told the court that he operated his shop from a pavement which left him at the mercy of the police and MCD officials, and false testimonies were his way of paying hafta to the police. He was summoned to the Dhaula Kuan Police station where the accused was shown to him and asked to depose against him in the court. Similarly, the prosecution claimed to recover a sketch of Palam Airport from the pocket of the accused. But this also turned a desperate attempt to manufacture “evidence”. The court observed, “For the sketch to be kept in the pocket, it would have to be folded more than twice. The fact that there was a single fold longitudinally with no creases suggested that the sketch had been planted as an afterthought. Also, the police, upon recovering the sketch, made no attempt to either corroborate the handwriting on the sketch, nor to inform the Palam airport authorities about a possible terror attack.”

This report is full of such revealing facts, one after another, ripping apart the tall claims made by the prosecution in what are called cases of “national importance” and bearing “international ramifications”.

Look at the case of State vs. Moarif Qamar and Mohammad Irshad Ali. A somewhat similar story follows: On 9 February 2006, around 4 pm, SI Vinay Tygai received ‘secret’ information that two militants of Al-Badr outfit, namely Moarif Qamar and Mohammad Irshad Ali would be arriving in Delhi by a J&K State Road Transport Corporation (JKSRTC) bus bearing registration number JK 02Y 0299. The officer was also told that the alleged militants would disembark at Mukarba Chowk, near the G. T. Karnal Road in north Delhi, and that they would be carrying on them a huge caché of arms and explosives. Upon the receipt of this information, a police team was constituted to act upon this information. The police team reached Mukarba Chowk around 5.30 pm, where two of its members, namely Inspector Sanjay Dutt and SI Vinay Tyagi met their (police) informer. They asked about half a dozen people to join the raiding police team as witnesses, but all excused themselves. Failing to enlist public witness, the police team, SI Subhash Vats and SI Ravinder Tyagi, were asked to become witnesses of the police team’s proceedings. As the police team waited for the accused to arrive, it was divided in two cordons (inner and outer). At around 7.35 pm a JKSRTC bus bearing the mentioned registration number arrived at Mukarba Chowk. As the bus stopped, the police informer accompanying the police team identified Moarif Qamar and Mohammad Irshad Ali, from among the passengers alighting from the bus. When the accused were about to cross the road, they were intercepted by members of the police team and apprehended. However, the truth is that both the accused named in this case, Moarif Qamar and Mohammad Irshad Ali, were shown arrested by the police from a place and on a date that were far removed from the date and place from where they were actually picked up or rather kidnapped by the Special Cell personnel in Delhi, way back in December 2005.

In this regard, a CBI investigation revealed that both the accused after being picked up by the police in December 2005 were “kept in illegal detention” till 9 February 2006 when they were shown arrested as alleged terrorists. The CBI observed that on 9 February 2006, the recovery and seizure of arms and ammunitions from Moarif Qamar and Mohammad Irshad Ali by SI Vinay Tyagi and claimed to have been witnessed by SI Subhash Vats and Ravinder Tyagi, “is false and that false evidence/record has been fabricated to implicate Irshad Ali and Moarif Qamar for an oblique motive.” The CBI ‘s Closure Report submitted in the court of the Additional Session Judge, S. S. Mohi, on 11 November 2008 categorically stated that far from being Al-Badr terrorists, as alleged by the Special Cell, the accused were innocent men, framed and falsely implicated in the entire case by the Special Cell, which had planted fabricated evidence on these men. The CBI further recommended “legal action against SIs Vinay Tyagi, Subhash Vats and Ravinder Tyagi … for commission of offences u/s 120-B r/w 193, 195 and substantive offences thereof as per provisions of Section 195(1) (b) (i) Cr. P.C”. Which simply means: these officers must be prosecuted for fabricating cases and planting incriminating evidence. But here too, nothing has been done against these officers to date.

The other cases, documented in the report are no different from these samples. In almost every case, the courts have observed that the prosecution has failed to prove its case (and produce any substantial) evidence beyond reasonable doubt.

The present report ably brings out the fact of how media houses and journalists are working as faithful stenographers of the Police, not only presuming the accused guilty much before a court of law gives its verdict but also in ruining the lives of innocents by reckless reportage, reproducing press handouts provided by the Police. Hence, it must be noted that, in this business of framing innocent citizens and manufacturing terrorists, the media considered to be the fourth pillar of democracy is as responsible as the criminals in khaki themselves. Because, it is the media who gives them legitimacy by not only hiding crimes but also partnering in their crimes by failing to ask basic questions and, instead, succumbing to the police versions.

The report is an eye-opener and demands urgent action against the real criminals in khaki. It must be circulated on a large-scale and treated with all seriousness, if we are really interested in solving the problem of Terrorism in India.

(Mahtab Alam is a Delhi-based Civil Rights Activist and Journalist.
To order, see page 24

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 October 2012 on page no. 21

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