Issues

Fighting Injustice & Communal Targeting

By Subhashini Ali (ex MP)

Since the last two decades, whenever an incident of a bomb explosion takes place anywhere in the country, large numbers of young Muslim men are arrested often from places very far from where the incident has occurred.  Their identities are revealed to the press and their names, places of origin and even their photographs become part of sensational news stories in the print and visual media.  After their being picked up by the police, they are kept in custody and confessions are extracted from them in which they not only accept their own involvement in one or more incidents but also name a number of other young men many of whom are arrested subsequently. After this, they are produced in court and sent to jail.

Since they are arrested under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and often accused of anti-national and seditious activity as well, they are denied bail throughout their incarceration. If the Court finds them innocent in one case, several others are slapped on them so that they spend the better part of their youth in jail.

Several cases have been documented in which young men between the ages of 18 and 25 have been acquitted after having been forced to spend between nine and 14 years in jail.  They have suffered not only physical and mental torture but have also been deprived of education and employment.  Their future has been blighted and their families ruined.  In judgment after judgment, the agencies responsible for their arrests have been held responsible for making false statements and for fabricating evidence. Unfortunately, no one has been punished for these crimes of omission and commission which originate from the worst communal prejudice. At the same time, none of those acquitted after long years spent languishing in jails in different parts of the country are treated as deserving compensation and rehabilitation.

 The CPI (M) has been raising this issue from time to time and has intervened to help some of those falsely accused to access justice. It was felt, however, that this was not enough. Seeing the enormity of the problem, it was necessary to pressurise governments at the central and state levels to address this issue.  As a first step, Prakash Karat, CPI (M) general secretary, met the President of India on November 17, 2012 along with his Party colleagues, Yousuf Tarigami, Subhashini Ali and Sehba Farooqui and three victims of State injustice who had been acquitted after years in prison, Mohammad Aamir from Delhi, Maqbool Shah from Kashmir and Syed Wasif Haider from Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh.

Prakash Karat handed over a memorandum to the President. He also presented the president with a copy of the report by the Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association which has given details of 16 judgments by Delhi courts that have acquitted young men accused of being “terrorists” and have passed strictures against the investigating and arresting agencies.

 The three victims also made their very moving submissions to the President.  Mohammad Aamir was only 17 years old when he was arrested. One after another, about 17 different cases of bomb-blasts were slapped against him and he was finally acquitted after 14 long years in jail.  He said that all he wanted was to lead a decent life and all he was asking for was a future that had been denied to him for so long. He had been promised compensation by various government officials but has received nothing so far.  In fact, no Gazetted Officer was even willing to countersign his applications for relief.

Maqbool Shah told the President that his father died of shock after his arrest in Delhi and his sister died after visiting him in jail. His family business was destroyed during his incarceration. It was only because of the intervention of former CPI (M) MP, Brinda Karat that he received monetary compensation from the home ministry and, after several years of constant effort, he has been given a very low-level job with the J&K Bank.

Syed Wasif Haider was working as a manager with a reputed MNC when he was arrested in Kanpur. He was released after nine years in 2009 and is now unemployed and penniless. His appeals to the state government for compensation have gone unheard.

 The President gave the delegation a very sympathetic and patient hearing.  He responded to the various points made and promised that he would use his good offices with the central and state governments to address the issues raised.

 The CPI (M) is committed to take forward this struggle against injustice and communal targeting forward at all levels. All state committees must identify cases of wrongful confinement and harassment of so-called terrorists and intervene to help those who have been acquitted to access compensation and rehabilitation.

 Subhashini Ali Ex MP, is a CPI (M) leader and represented Kanpur Lok Sabha seat in 9th Lok Sabha.She can be reached on

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 December 2012 on page no. 2

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