Human Rights

Vanishing STF victims

The cue to the one man Justice RD Nimesh inquiry commission, constituted via notification on March 14, 2008 by the UP government, is to start from the day when Khalid Mujahid and Tariq Qasmi had disappeared. Well, both are accused in the Lucknow and Faizabad courts blasts of Nov 23, 2007. The serial blasts had ripped through the courts of Lucknow, Faizabad and Benaras killing at least 14 people and injuring more than 50 others. Nine deaths were reported from Benaras and five in Faizabad.

The year 2008 had seen a parliamentary by-election in Azamgarh and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) had fielded Akbar Ahmed Dumpy from there. Dumpy is said to have sat until midnight at Pancham Tal ( Fifth Avenue) inside UP Secretariat until he was gifted with an order for a judicial probe, by the Chief Minister Mayawati! That was perhaps his only stake to go to masses, in the wake-of extreme Muslim anger against state government. Tariq is from Rani ki Sarai in Azamgarh and Khalid from Maniyaon in Jaunpur — both in UP. Both were arrested by UP Special Task Force (STF). Ironically, the arrests had come, not even six months after Mayawati had claimed Sarvjan Hitaya Sarvjan Sukhaya Benefit and Happiness to All. Dumpy had won those elections but later lost in general elections 2009.

The seriousness of the state government can be very easily gauged as for almost three quarters of an year — the probe could not make any kick start as there was no office and staff for nine months! Finally, it assumed office in Jan. 2009 under retired District Judge RD Nimesh. He had retired from Mau, UP.

Now a detailed. It was on Dec 12, 2007 that Tariq Qasmi disappeared from Sarai Meer, Azamgarh. On Dec 14, 2007 his grandfather Azhar Ali filed the disappearance-report of Tariq in Rani ki Sarai Police Station, Azamgarh. National Loktantrik Party (NLP) under Muhammed Arshad Khan had sat on dharna protesting the arrest, as reported in local newspapers. On Dec 20, 2007 Azhar Ali wrote an application to Chief Judicial Magistrate which was also sent to UP CM, Prime Minister of India and National Human Rights Commission. None replied.

The second case of Khalid is also similar. He was arrested on Dec 16, 2007. On the same day, his cousin Shahid gave an application of disappearance in Maniyaon PS, Jaunpur. His uncle Zaheer Alam also gave a similar application and also wrote to NHRC too. NHRC is yet to respond.  Officially both were shown to have been arrested from Barabanki, UP on Dec 22, 2007.

Their lawyer Muhammad Shoaib, left no stone unturned to nail the falsehood. He got Zaheer Alam to apply through Right to Information and seek it from Circle Officer, of Maniyaon in Jaunpur, the entries in general diary of Dec 16 to 23, 2007. Quite understandably the reply given has contradicted the UP STF claim. The reply was submitted to Additional Session Judge Court No. 7 in Barabanki.

"Both of them were actually kidnapped by UP STF. Khalid was picked up by the STF when he had gone to buy vegetables. Hundreds of witnesses have signed a declaration testifying this,"  informs Shoaib. He also informs that Khalid had got married only two months prior to his arrest! "Tariq's story rings a similar bell as he was arrested from Sarai Meer  while on his way to Mohammedpur. The people who witnessed his arrest were informed by STF personnel that they were carrying him home which in fact meant Lucknow jail," elaborated Shoiab.

Justice RD Nimesh in the meantime had also made a visit to Jaunpur and Azamgarh in July last ( 6 and 7 July 2009) to ascertain the veracity of the claims projected by both the sides. About 65 persons have given their affidavits as witnesses in these cases. Their testimonies, have as such, got recorded at Fifth Floor, Sahkarita Bhawan, Lucknow. This included locals of the area, human rights activists like Rajeev Yadav and Shahnawaz Alam — both of PUCL etc. The number of affidavits to have come up from the police side is 32 and their testimonies too have been done. Now all that is required is cross examinations of witnesses by the counsels of both the sides. Shoiab is gearing for the same. The opposite side counsel is yet to be announced.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 March 2010 on page no. 11

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