The Grapes of wrath from Aurangabad: Ultra Hindu terrorism is more dangerous

The historic city of Aurangabad is in turmoil along with Beed, Nanded, Hingoli, etc. Never before, not even during the police action which ended the  Nizam rule, did the minority community feel so much outraged as now for a whole week and more since April 7, 2013.

On April 12, people protested against the death of Mirza Rizwan Baig. On the following day came the surprise conviction of Himayat Baig in the case of the Pune German Bakery bomb blast of 13 February, 2010. He was in Aurangabad attending a marriage ceremony at the time and could not have planted the bomb in the bakery under a table hundreds of kilometres away and be in Aurangbad at the same time.

The chargesheet in the German bakery case says that Yasin Bhatkal and Baig had carried the bomb in a private car. The chargeheet further says that, “Yasin planted the bomb in a haversack at the bakery around 5 pm and triggered it with the help of a mobile triggering device at 6.50 pm.” It means that Yasin was alone in the bakery. So how could Baig have planted the bomb under the table?

What is nauseating is the ubiquitous presence of the Bhatkal brothers in acts and on sites of bomb blasts but who are otherwise untraceable for the Indian police.

People in Marathwada have been agitating for quite sometime but their anger boiled over on Friday, 12 April, 2013 after the noon prayer. They not only marched in the main streets and took a memorandum to the Commissioner protesting against the purported suicide of Rizwan which they believe was murder and a result of state terrorism. It was a disciplined march of angry but sober people.

The Muslim community was in ferment over the phenomenon of innocent youths framed in cases of terrorism. Some were even killed in Aurangabad by the police and then it was found that there was no record of any criminal behavior on their part.

In the 2006 Aurangabad arms haul case, the police have not been able to offer proof that Zabiuddin Ansari had hired the Indica car which was used to carry the arms and explosives. Police have failed to present the car to the court. The car is untraceable.

Thus in case after case, people in Marathwada registered in their minds how innocent youths from that region - Marathwada -- were implicated in acts of terrorism.

There was another dimension in the terror situtation. There was a historic conference held on February 10, 2013 about the awakening of the Muslim women and the call to them to let their sons go for higher education. Islam ki beti jag zara, aur aala meaari taleem key liya apne beton ko bhi jaga: Daughter of Islam, wake up and for standard higher education awaken your sons too!

This movement for education in which young men should not be left behind because of the early manual employment and their increasing dropout percentage was a cause of concern. It was so for the community specific social phenomenon that the conference took place. But not only the votaries of Hindutva saw red in this but even the police took up the hint. In the first week of April 2013, the Maharashtra police sent a general circular to the police stations across the state that there was an urgent need to keep a close watch on Muslim women who were teaching their children “jihad”. The government of Mahrashtra even mentioned an organization of Jamat-e-Islami Hind for young women, Girls Islamic Organization, which it claimed was teaching jihad.

The thrust of the organization has been education of the boys. The girls were left behind in higher education. Moreover, the mother must teach what is right and what is wrong and follow the right and uphold it by all means. This is what the mother of Shivaji must also have taught the great king. But given the vitiated atmosphere against Muslims prevailing in the country, and especially in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka, etc. the Hindutva brigade saw in this a challenge to their hegemony. No other newspaper received the government circular in Maharashtra except the newspaper of Shiv Sena, Saamna. The circular said that Muslim women are brainwashing the minds of their  children and planting the need for jihad and training the young ones in that. Of course, the Director General of Police Naval Bajaj later denied that the allegation was based on facts. Even so the fact remains that education of women can make the whole family educated. It is no crime to teach children to know the difference between right and wrong and do the right or struggle for it.

As if this fact is beyond the understanding of the government of Mahrashtra that the Intelligence Bureau should alert the Mahrashtra government that women of Islam were teaching jihad to their children! What jihad?

That the Hindutva brigade is in the driving seat of the government is clear from a feature article in Saamna of April 7, 2013. In his article “Marathdwada wa Muslim mans” (Marathwada and Muslim Mindset), Advocate Govind Puroshtam Nandapurkar writes: “After police action [against Nizam government in September 1947] Razakar uprising and Unity of Muslemin [Muslims] was destroyed… But because of the politics of the Owaisis and their party MIM [Majlis Itihadul Muslimin] the tendency of uprising as in Razakar movement and Unity of Muslims is raising its head. In Nanded municipal elections, 24 Muslims have been elected in the 81-member council…The army of terrorists of the extremist Fayyaz Kagzi has been used in Pune and in other country-made bomb explosion incidents. Fayyaz Kagzi has trained an army of 100 Jihad terrorists.” This wild allegation is ascribed to the police. If this is so why did the police not bother to tell it loud and clear to everyone? Why did the police tell it only to advocate Nandapurkar or the Saamna? Can the police be competent to jump to the conclusion and generalize that the women of Islam were teaching jihad to their children? But then cracks appear when the writer says that the arrest of Firoz from Pune, Jamshed from Sambhajinager (Hindutva name for Aurangabad), Imran Wajid Khan and Sayyid Maqbool of Nanded aroused suspicion of the police in Delhi.

The Saamna article also says that Abu Jindal is behind the Pune and 26/11 blasts. It went on to say, “Marathwadatil manus Nizam cha rajkalat jitka asurakshit hota titka asurakshit aaj nasel” (The people in Marathdwada under the rule of Nizam were more unsafe than they are today). The writer conveniently forgets and wants us also to forget that Marathwada includes Nanded, Parbhani, Jalna and Purna which have been targeted by Hindutva terror bomb attacks. Only Muslims offering Friday prayers were killed or injured. Yet the writer says, “But the volunteers or Razkars of Majlis Itehadul Muslamin are a threat not only to the Hindus of Marathwada but to the whole country.” The logical inference is that only Hindus are under threat, not the Christians, Buddhists and Jains.

Who has the power and access to do acts of violence like terrorism of modern times to keep the Hindus reminded of the past violence and terror? In the answer to this question lies the imprints of the nearly 80 % terrorists who have appropriated the right to engage in terrorism.

Thus the ray of awakening that the Muslim women’s conference had kindled in the Muslims of rebirth of learning useful for the masses was made out to be a terrorist threat to the region and the whole state and even the country. Against these currents and countrcurrents of thoughts and ideas in Marathwada and centrally in Aurangabad and Beed that the unravelling of the treatment of Muslims accused of terror and the trial and sentencing of Himayat Baig to death is taking place.

The unfortunate death of Rizwan was the long fallout of the four bombs that blew up on 1 August, 2012 at the Jangli Mahraj road in Pune. These were low intensity explosions that did not kill anyone. An early report said a Hindu, Dyanand Patil, was carrying the bomb and was slightly injured. Then out of the blue appeared the Anti Terrorist Squad in Aurangabad on 27 December, 2012 and arrested Kashif Biyabani. But prior to the arrest, the ATS wanted to make him an approver in the case of the blasts and forced him to implicate Asad who was already in their custody. Kashif steadfastly refused the police offer. So they arrested him and  tortured him in custody. The accused in the blasts, Munir Iqbal, Farooq Baghban and Kashif, appeared before Justice YD Shinde of MCOCA court. They told the court that the police was giving electric shocks to their private parts to force them to sign on blank sheets of  paper which they have refused to do.

This criminal behaviour of the ATS was seen in the case of Aslam Shabbir Sheikh Bunty of Ahmadnager. He too accused the police of torturing him and applying electric shocks to his body.

In the aftermath of the hanging of Afzal Guru, police in Delhi entered the one-room flat of the Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani in Delhi and kept watch on him for many days. The J&K police never behaved like that in Kashmir but in Delhi they feel they can cross any limit. Geelani was kept under house-arrest following the hanging of Afzal Guru. His sin in the eyes of the police was that he had requested the government to allow the family of Guru to have his mortal remains for burial in Kashmir. Even on such humanitarian grounds, the police can go to such extreme measures.

The Maharshtra ATS took a leaf from Delhi police special cell and started harassing Masood Aimi, the elder brother of Dr Salman Farsi, an accused in 2006 Malegaon blasts who is out of prison on bail. The police are harassing the family of Masood in his absence. They sit outside the house and harass the children and his wife on the pretext that they are waiting for Masood. How torturous this can be is for anyone to see as the Thane and Mumbai ATS take their turns to visit the family. (Asia Express, Aurangabad, 14 April, 2013).

These ways of torturing people of the minority community outside Marathwada prove that it is a universal pattern all over the country. It is done at the behest of the agencies of the central government in whose hands the investigators are.

In the case of Rizwan, police took him to Mumbai for questioning. During this trying time in January 2013 they claim that he had tried to commit suicide two times before. How far that is ture is difficult to verify but the family says that they were torturing him into confessing a crime he had not committed. When the family protested, the police said that they would not call him again after the last meeting on 7 January, 2013. Three months later on April 7, he was taken for interrogation and no sooner did he enter the ATS office in Mumbai than he was severely beaten and tortured (Asia Age, 15 April, 2013). In the late evening of the same day he was found hanging from the iron grill of his house in the Chaus Colony, Aurangabad. There was no one in the house as the family members had gone to another place to attend a wedding ceremony. The photo of the dead body of Rizwan published in Asia Express (Aurangabad) of 14 April, 2013 creates suspicion that he was murdered. There are no nail marks around the neck and his tongue is not protruding or hanging.

Thus the summer of discontent in Aurangabad is on account of what the police had sown and are now reaping. They have sown disaffection in the Muslim community. This bodes ill for the country as it strikes at the Muslim community which today is most vulnerable as the custodians of law themselves are perpetrating the atrocity.

WikiLeaks had revealed at the end of December 2011 that Rahul Gandhi had told the American Ambassador Timothy Roemer that ultra Hindu terrorism is more dangerous than other forms of terrorism facing the country. What prompted the Congress leader to utter this thought to no one than the Ambassador of the US? India and the United States share a common concern for fighting terrorism. Rahul Gandhi spoke his mind in camera but the secret diplomatic messages tapped by Louis Assange spilled out what was supposed to remain secret. Rahul Gandh must have been uninhibited while uttering what he believed to be true.

Anyone except the right-wing Hindus and the Hindutva party BJP would not risk creating disaffection in the minds and hearts of the people of India. The police in Aurangabad is also now towing the same line. Or else the turmoil would not be there in the city. The rulers of India must now wake up and awaken their police not to do it.

But the government and the police show no concern. They do not realize that involving one brother in a crime and then reaching to another with an offer of bribe to implicate a third person in a crime he never committed is sowing seeds of discontent in the whole community. The whole community is now ignited with the thought of injustice and ignominy and have fully realised how their innocent youths have been hunted by ATS for every blast anywhere in the country. Kashif Biyabani’s case is like. Gradually it evolves and sucks in innocent people like Rizwan. This is illustrated in the case of how the police has tried and failed in linking Biyabani and Kagzi. On 30 January, 2013 Munib Iqbal Memon, Farooq Bagwan and Kashif Biyabani had told the court that the ATS had tortured and forced them to sign on blank papers. They had denied any role in the bomb blasts at Balgandharva Theatre, Dena Bank branch, McDonald outlet and Garware Bridge, on Jangli Maharaj Road in Pune.

The police had earlier arrested Asad Khan Jamshed Alikhan alias Zahid alias Kaka alias Mohammed (33) of Naigaon in Aurangabad district, Imran Khan Wajid Khan Pathan (32) of Nanded district, Firoz alias Hamza Abdul Hameed Sayyed (38) of Pune and Irfan Mustafa Landge (30) of Ahmednagar on 20 December, 2012, and Bunty Jahagirdar (45) of Shrirampur taluka of Ahmednager.

Kashif is the brother of the Aurangabad arms haul case accused Akif. A third brother, Aaquil, has outright denied that Kashif had introduced Asad Khan and three others to Kagzi. “The ATS does not have any evidence against Kashif and is trying to establish that he acted as a link between Fayyaz and Asad,” said Aaquil, a practicing lawyer. Kashif is a student of law and a realtor. “In the course of his real estate business, he got in touch with Asad for a business deal. A few months ago Kashif and Asad quarrelled with each other in Kat Kat Gate area, as Asad refused to pay a commission of Rs 90,000 after a land deal was finalized.

 Now the ATS claims that five years ago Kashif had given Asad an email ID and a password through which Asad and his three friends contacted Kagzi and plotted and executed the serial blasts in Pune. These are baseless allegations.” In the land dealing, a representative of Zabiuddin Ansari tried to bribe Kashif. Kashif informed the ATS about this and thus became a witness in the case.

Zabiuddin is also involved in the Aurangabad arms haul case along with Kagzi. But the ATS did not find any wrong doing on the part of Kashif and the court reprimanded the police for it. If no meeting was held, how Kashif could be accused of a role in the conspiracy?

In the earlier case of German Bakery, the conviction and death penalty of Himayat Baig comes as a surprise. There were many flaws in evidence. One flaw is that six prosecution witnesses told the court that Baig was in Aurangabad when the explosion at German Bakery took place and yet he was found guilty of planting th bomb. The Vodafone call data also shows his presence in Aurangabad. Furthermore, why should he go to Pune only to be arrested? He was arrested from Pune Camp. How did he get there? The source which gave a tip off in this should have known how. If RDX was found in a bungalow in Udgir, where did it come from? Where is the proof that Ahmed Siddibappa alias Yasin Bhatkal, Mohsin Chowdhary  and Baig assembled the bomb in the Global Internet Café of Udgir? Where is the proof that Baig and others really underwent training in bomb making and causing explosion? Absconders like Bhatkal and Chowdhary in the case of the German Bakery would not turn to Pune to cause another explosion two years later at the Jangli Maharag Road.

Some of the accused in the German Bakery case were also accused in the 2006 Aurangabad arms haul case, so why should they be committing other crimes so intrepidly as if they were given immunity. If the conspiracy was hatched in March 2008 in Colombo, why did the police not furnish details? “During his cross-examination in the German Bakery blast trial on Wednesday, ACP Vinod Satav admitted before the court that they do not have any evidence or witness for the alleged meeting between Himayat Baig, the only suspect arrested in this case, and terror operatives Yasin Bhatkal and Mohsin Choudhary at the Global Internet Café in Udgir, where the blast conspiracy was allegedly hatched in January 2010. Satav also admitted that the ATS team did not visit Colombo where Baig was allegedly given training by LeT.”

There are contradictions between what inspector Dinesh Kadam says, who identified Himayat Baig and Bhatkal on CCTV, and what the rickshaw driver who carried them says. If the driver could not identify them how could Kadam do so     relying on the hazy images of the CCTV? Furthermore, Kadam was with the ATS and could not investigate a case of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The RDX was “recovered” from Baig’s house but the place was easily accessible to all and hence not of evidentiary value. The bank employees identified him and yet there was no signature of Himayat Baig on the withdrawal slip where he supposedly withdrew money? The whole case is quite suspicious to say the least.

These flaws show that the case was cooked up. When the prosecution could not prove the alleged conspiracy in Columbo, all other things were made up to implicate Baig. As if this was not enough, the defence lawyer, A Rehman, blew up the argument of the prosecution to smithereens saying: “The purchase of the RDX which was allegedly used in the blast has not been proved. It’s not been put forth by the prosecution as to who purchased the RDX and from where? Also, it’s been stated time and again that the accused Baig was seen with the other accused Yasin Bhatkal, Mohsin Chaudhari and Fayyaz Kagzi. Even if that’s considered true, it doesn’t have any bearing as, so far, it hasn’t been proved in any court of law that the three belong to the banned terror organisation Indian Mujahiddin (IM)”.

Another weak point is how, in the absence of the other six accused, could the court prove coordination and corroboration of Baig and the six others. Riyaz Bhatkal, Iqbal Bhatkal and Yasin Bhatkal, Mohsin Choudhary of Pune, and the alleged LeT operatives Fayyaz Kagzi are at large while Zabiuddin Ansari alias Zabi is now in jail. Of the eight accused, Ahmad Siddibappa Zarar alias Yasin Bhatkal, Mohsin Choudhary, Riyaz Ismail Shabandri alias Riyaz Bhatkal, Iqbal Ismail Shabandri alias Iqbal Bhatkal, Fayyaz Kagzi alias Zulikar Fayyaz Ahmed and Sayyad Zabiuddin Sayyad Zakiuddin alias Zabi Ansari, only Baig was convicted. Why did the court not convict Zabi who has been in police custody for several months?

Before the trial started Baig had said: “False allegations have been levelled against me. I have been implicated in the case.” Regarding his arrest, he had this to say: “I was at the bus stop in Latur when five to six persons approached me. Pointing a gun, they made me sit in their four-wheeler. I was brought to Mumbai and then to Pune ATS office after two days.”

Baig also said that the ATS officers Kadam and Sabnis took him to the German Bakery to show him the blast site. He also said that the cops had threatened to book his family members as well if he did not cooperate. Another suspicious thing was reported by the Mid Day newspaper which said, “Deputy Inspector General of Police Ravindra Kadam of the state Anti-Terrorism Squad had told a TV channel in Udgir that the prime suspect Mirza Himayat Baig was not present in the city when the German Bakery blast took place. Kadam’s statement was contradictory to Additonal Director General of Police and ATS chief Rakesh Maria’s statement that Baig had come to the city along with Indian Mujahideen terrorist Yasin Bhatkal on 13 February. However, Kadam later retracted this statement. Baig’s cellphone records appearred to show that he was in Aurangabad when the bombing took place.”

The fate of Himayat Baig was already decided when the media started saying that he wanted to attack even the Nasik police academy. This, like many other accusations, has not been substantiated. This is in sharp contrast to the Bhonsala Military Schools at Nasik and Nagpur where Hindutva terrorists gave training to thousands with the manifest intention to kill Muslims. But this fact did not create any furore either in society or media or even in a court of law nor did it alarm the state or central government until now. On the other hand, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat visited BMS and blessed it for giving martial training to students and wanted to have more such schools opened not only in India but also abroad. Both the schools  are supposed to train those who seek to join the army in due course but suspicions abound about the real motives of the Hindutva forces running the two schools.

In the words which Baig spoke a day after his conviction, there is gravamen of critical thinking. “I have not run away anywhere... Innocent people were caught and many of them were arrested. I stayed at home fearing I would also be arrested… I am a believer in God and I have no role in the blast. I have faith in judiciary. I know that law will not let innocent be trapped.” He broke down in the court but continued, “It is important that the culprit be booked, but an innocent person should not be framed... If the real culprit is not found and I am given punishment it would be injustice to me and I will be the 18th victim of German Bakery blast case.”

The recent execution of Afzal Guru has many parallels for people to recall. He was not actually involved in the attack on Parliament. He was used by the Special Task Force in Kashmir to take one of the attackers to Delhi. No other accused was arrested. Even the case of professor of Arabic, SAR Geelani, offered a convincing demonstration of the need to have critical thinking. He had told his brother on phone about the dispatch of academic syllabus which the trial court found to be a “message” that the attack on Parliament was accomplished. It was not the end of it. The Hindutva terror module of Sunil Joshi tried to kill Prof. Geelani even after his acquittal. Thus the fate of a Muslim is fixed irrespective of the court verdict. Naturally, the minority community in Marathwada and elsewhere has come to seize this matter and feel agitated. Baig is another victim of the same and from that region, too.

If he is proved right, the question is why focus on Marathwada now as Azamgarh of yesterday, or even Bhatkal. The regional nuance comes out in the native of Marathwada. “They arrested me for the first time and brought me to the ATS office in Pune... I have never seen RDX and they blamed me for the blast. It is a failure of the investigating agency. I am innocent. Someday the truth will come out and I will get justice.”