National

National Meet on Sangh Terror Links and Stories of Innocent Muslim Boys

A national meet was organised by ANHAD in collaboration of other organisations at Delhi on 28 January 2011 on 'Ham Jo Tareek Rahon Main Marey Gaye' - Tracing Sangh Terror Links And Stories Of Innocent Muslim Boys'

There is an almost universal sentiment of fear and growing despair among Muslim citizens of the country. There is mounting disillusionment with all institutions of governance, and more so with the police and judiciary, as well as with political parties and to some extent the media. There is, on the one hand, the constant dread of being profiled as a terrorist, or of a loved one being so profiled, with the attendant fears of illegal and prolonged detention, denial of bail, torture, unfair and biased investigation and trial, and extra-judicial killings. There is, on the other hand, the lived experience of day to day discrimination, in education, employment, housing and public services, which entrap the community in hopeless conditions of insecurity, poverty and want. The consistent stereotypical profiling and insensitivity towards Muslims has pushed them from being citizens of a democratic country to the position of second grade citizenship. This kind of unsaid apathy and discrimination in a system that takes pride in calling itself democracy is highly undesirable. Despite constitutional and legislative guarantees Muslims in India not only continue to face discrimination and violation of their rights but unfortunately the past two decades have seen a steep rise in this discrimination.

The other important process which is adding to this problem is the role of the media. The liberal and secular character of the media in India, developed as a part of the national movement, has been considerably eroded in recent times. The divisive and sectarian media performs three well defined roles: the slow poisoning of the civil society through the production of a counter discourse to the secular and plural; the creation of conflict situations by distorting events, spreading rumours and pandering falsehood; the denigration of secular , liberal intelligentsia and cultural activists by attacking their integrity and undermining their professional competence.

A large percentage of the community as a result of insecurity, apathy and poverty has moved into clusters totally cut off from modernity and exposure to new ideas. Even when schemes intended to give benefits to the Muslims are announced, they do not reach them or partially reach them. The efforts required to find innovative ways to reach out to a besieged community are totally lacking.

The National Meet 'Hum Jo Tareek Rahon Main Marey Gaye' attended by approximately 300 people from across India including the political leaders was the culmination of a two major tribunals held in 2008 and 2009 to document the conditions of Muslims in India as well as years of effort by independent civil society members, groups and a section of the media to expose the nefarious designs of the Sangh communal and terror networks.

A combined report 'What it Means to be a Muslim in India Today' of the two tribunals Peoples Tribunal on The Atrocities Committed Against Minority In The Name Of Fighting Terrorism held at Hyderabad on 22-24 August 2008 and National Meet on the Status of Muslims in Contemporary India held in Delhi on 3-5 Oct 2009 was released today by victims- Mohd Raisuddin, Khatoon Bibi, Qamar Jahan Sheikh, Salmabi, political leaders Digvijay Singh, Ramvilas Paswan, Sitaram Yechury, senior journalist and editor Siasat -Zahid Ali Khan and social activist Shabnam Hashmi.

The tribunals were organised by Anhad in collaboration with Siasat, Hyderabad and Human Rights Law Network.

'What it means to be a Muslim in India Today' is a compilation of real life stories. It brings heart rendering stories of young boys, mothers and families in front of the nation. Stories of a besieged community: stories of discrimination, stories of torture and abuse, stories of prejudices and hatred, stories of apathy, stories of intimidation, stories of state terror and fabrication of evidence, stories of police atrocities, stories of judicial apathy and connivance, stories of cold blooded murders, stories of the second class citizens of the world's largest democracy.

The following victims , activists, journalists, writers and political leaders spoke at the National Meet: AB Bardhan, Abdul Rahim, Abu Zafar, Amit Sengupta, Ashish Khaitan, Bilal Kazi, Chitaranjan Singh, Digvijay Singh, Farah Naqvi, Harsh Mander, Iftikhar Gilani, Jamila Nishat, Khatoon Bibi, Manisha Sethi, Mansi Sharma, Mohd Raisuddin, Mufti Ismail, Prashant Bhushan, Qamar Jahan Sheikh, Ram Vilas Paswan, Rauf Lala, Salma bi, Sanjay Sharma, Satya Sivaraman, Seema Mustafa, Shabnam Hashmi, Shahiuz Zaman, Sitaram Yechury, Subhash Gatade, Suresh Khairnar, Tarun Tejpal , Yusuf Shaikh .

Statement released at the National Meet

January 28, 2011, New Delhi

Civil rights groups have been arguing for long that the investigations into bomb blasts and terror attacks have degenerated into communal witch-hunts. Bomb blasts are followed predictably by mass arrests of Muslim youth, raids in Muslim-dominated localities, detentions, arrests and torture; media trials, charge sheets and prosecution based on custodial confessions and little real evidence. It has been assumed, and accepted widely, that no further proof of guilt need be offered than the fact that the accused belonged to a particular community. Leads which pointed to the hands of groups affiliated to Sangh organisations and their complicity in planning and executing acts of terror were ignored, never seriously pursued. The agencies, showing their abject bias, instead chose to pursue the beaten track of investigating Islamic terrorist organizations such-despite clear evidence pointing in the opposite direction. The only exception was Maharashtra ATS chief Hemant Karkare, who had, as far back as 2008 conclusively brought into the public domain the nefarious designs of Abhinav Bharat and its foot soldiers of hate: (Sadhvi) Pragya Singh of the ABVP, serving army officer Col. Purohit, and Sunil Joshi, Indresh and Swami Aseemanand belonging to the RSS. Karkare had communicated to the Hyderabad Police the sensational claim by Col. Purohit that he had procured RDX from an army inventory when he was posted in Jammu and Kashmir in 2006. The Hyderabad Police however ignored his messages, having already detained close to 70 youth belonging to the Muslim community.

 The National Meet demands the following:

1)   Although the Indian government has belatedly acknowledged the heinous terrorist acts of the Sangh groups we feel that a genuine probe must also perforce encompass a thorough enquiry into the terror nexus straddling Abhinav Bharat, RSS, VHP, BJP and Bajrang Dal leaders together with sections of the Indian intelligence and security agencies who deliberately subverted the probes as well as the due process of law. The government should seriously investigate the openly expressed sympathies towards 'Hindutva' ideology of certain retired policemen and bureaucrats as this is an indication of such sympathy within serving officials of the police, army and bureaucracy.

2)   We further demand that the government immediately release a White Paper on the exact number of Muslim youths arrested and detained on charges of carrying out bomb blasts in Mecca Masjid, Malegaon (2006 and 2008), Ajmer Sharif Dargah and Samjhauta Express. These youths should be released without any further delay.

3)   All those who were accused/ arrested/ tortured in above cases must be provided with compensation and rehabilitation.

4)   It must also be investigated whether the networks of Hindutva terrorists have been provided not just political but also financial and logistical support by various governments.

5)   There must be a thorough investigation into the foreign sources of funding of the Hindutva organizations.

6)   All police officers who have engaged in torture, illegal detentions, forced custodial confessions and fabricated evidence should be suspended, booked and tried under the law of the land. Any promotions or awards they may have received for their role in these investigations should be taken back.

7)   The Andhra Pradesh government should immediately stop contesting the claims for compensation of those innocent youth incarcerated and tortured in the aftermath of the Mecca Masjid blasts in the Hyderabad Civil Court.

8)   The Home Minister and the state governments must issue an apology for the grievous loss of dignity and livelihood that innocents have suffered on account of the false charges foisted upon them.

9)   The National Meet also condemns the edicts issued by various Bar Associations against lawyers who have courageously taken up the cases against the terror accused-even in face of threats of physical violence. All accused have a constitutional right to legal recourse which cannot be trampled upon by these self-appointed custodians of national security. All lawyers who have engaged in attacks on their colleagues for carrying out their professional duties mandated by the Constitution must be tried under the law of the land.

10)Given that the security agencies employed extra judicial confessions extracted under duress as the basis of their claims and charge sheets for various blasts cases in which the complicity of the Hindutava groups has been vindicated, we, The National Meet, underlines that the investigations into all terror attacks in the past two decades, have been brought under suspicion. It is clear that the security agencies have acted in a prejudiced manner. We demand therefore that all blast cases and terror cases of the past two decades be investigated afresh and objectively by a judicial commission without negating the possibility of the Hindutva involvement in such instances.

11)The National Meet expresses its grave concern about the role of the media in demonizing the Muslims. It sincerely appeals to the media to introspect into its role in reporting on cases as sensitive as bomb blasts and terrorist activities.

 We appeal to the media houses to remain true to journalistic ethics in critically examining the so-called evidence placed by the investigators. The custodial confessions and dubious results of suspect pseudo-scientific narco-analysis tests should not be published by the media.

(Released by the National Meet organised by ANHAD, Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, Foundation for Civil Liberties, Jaipur, INSAF, Jamia Teacher's Solidarity Association, Delhi, SANDARBH, Indore, SIASAT, Hyderabad)

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-28 February 2011 on page no. 8

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