Mainstream, Vol XLVI, No 19
Who Would Wipe Professor Sanaullah Radoo’s Tears?
Sunday 27 April 2008, by#socialtags
Professor Sanaullah Radoo, the Principal of a Degree College in Sopore, Jammu and Kashmir, still remembers the day when his youngest son Pervez had reached the airport in Srinagar in a hurry to catch the next Spicejet flight to Delhi. (September 12, 2006). The moment the flight landed in Delhi, he had even made a call to his Abboo (father in colloquial terms—as he used to fondly call him) informing him that he was rushing to get the boarding pass to the next connecting flight for Pune. Little did he have any premonition then about what was in store for him.
It has been more than nineteen months that Pervez is in detention and right now lodged in Jail no. 1, Ward no. 1, Barrack no. 2, Tihar, Delhi. And as of now, all his dreams to undertake research on the varieties of rice found in Kashmir stands suspended. Young Pervez Ahmad Radoo, who had already finished his post-graduation in Zoology from Modern College in Pune, was seeking admission to a Ph.D course for which he was going to Pune.
In fact, the moment Pervez approached the airline staff to get his boarding pass at Delhi airport, he experienced that he had been surrounded by seven-eight people who held him firmly and took away his luggage and straightaway drove him to the Lodhi Colony Special Cell office. In a letter (Combat Law, March-April 2008) he provides details of the manner in which he was ‘tortured and interrogated severely’ and how he was ‘beaten up ruthlessly’ and given ‘electric shocks’.
If one were to believe the Special Cell of the Delhi Police, Pervez was arrested on October 15, 2006 from Azadpur Mandi in the city with “three kgs of RDX and Rs 10 lakh as hawala money along with other incriminating evidence” proving him to be a “Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist”.
Professor Sanaullah has been running from pillar to post for the last eighteen months so that his youngest son gets a ‘fair trial’ and comes out of jail unscathed and is able to resume his research work. The fact is that for about one month the professor did not know that Pervez has not landed in Pune, rather he was in detention. He has also presented a memorandum to the National Commission on Minorities ( NCM) to press harder for their intervention. Mohammad Shafi Qureshi, Chairperson of the NCM, who has looked into the case and has also written to the Delhi Police, was candid enough to share his views on the subject with a reporter (Mail Today, Delhi, March 6, 2008—“NCM fights for release of J&K youth in Tihar”):
It is hard to believe the police version when one sees the clean chits given by the Police Superintendent and Additional District Magistrate of Sopore, his native town, and from the local Resident Welfare Association (RWA). Most importantly, the certificate given by Spicejet for the same day shows him as boarding the plane for Delhi from Srinagar and then also bound to travel further to Pune. These facts have been completely ignored by the Special Cell.
Trying to control his tears Professor Sanaullah Radoo tells the reporter the manner in which the police has turned a promising young scientiest into a ‘bomb-man’. ‘He should be completing his research on a rice species in the Kashmir Valley, instead he is inside prison facing charges of terrorism.’ He clearly says the police ‘are lying’. He is also not sure whether his son would receive a fair trial or not and whether he has been provided an able prosecution to defend his case or not.
Pervez’s jail diary, which has appeared in a section of the media, puts further light on his plight. In his letter asking to ‘Save My Career, As I Am Innocent’, he poignantly asks: ‘Am I not Indian, if I am Kashmiri? Why this discrimination when tall claims are being made by the Government of India, by media, that before law all citizens are equal?’
OF course, it would not be a cliché to state that the story of the metamorphosis of a student of Zoology into a ‘bomb-man’ is not the only one of its kind. In fact not a day passes when one does not hear about the illegal detention of a youth from the minority community on some frivolous charges.
Just a day before Mail Today carried the above mentioned story about Pervez, it had provided details of a case involving a ‘terrorist’ gutkha manufacturer getting bail (Mail Today, March 5, 2008). According to the report filed by Piyush Srivastava,
Barely six months ago, 35-year-old Imran Ismail Memon was termed as a terrorist, a gangster, a hawala racketeer, a smuggler and a manufacturer of adulterated gutkha.
Imran Ismail Memon, a resident of Thane in Maharashtra, was arrested by the Rae Bareli Police on August 25, 2007. The police said he was part of a “terrorist module” and had started a “illegal and adulterated gutkha factory” as a cover-up to stay in the district. The Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court granted bail to him because of lack of evidence. It also added that ‘the police could not even prove the power theft charge against him’.
Whether it is the case of Aftab Alam Ansari, an employee of the Calcutta Electricity Supply Corporation, who was arrested on December 27, 2007 as the, ‘main accused behind the serial blasts in a number of courts in UP’ or for that matter the case of a poor fruit vendor from Kashmir who was presented before the media as a ‘prize catch’ responsible for blasts on the eve of Diwali in Delhi two years back, it is clear to any layperson that with the ascendance of the Hindu Right forces in the Indian polity and in the ambience which has been created the world over post-9/11 such targeting of innocents from the minority community has become all the more common.
All of us were witness to the travails of Aftab Alam Ansari who was tortured for 22 days that he spent in police custodry after his arrest on December 27, 2007 in order to make him confess that he was Mukhtar alias Raju, resident of Malda district in West Bengal, and had Rs 6 crores in his bank account.
The biggest irony of the whole situation is that while terrorist acts committed by Hindutva organisa-tions are not even reported or all attempts are done to cover them up, innocents from the minority community are apprehended claiming them to be associates of this or that dreaded terrorist organisation. The media, which is supposed to be a watchdog of democracy, also joins the malicious campaign where it has no qualms in calling all such people as terrorists rather than accused awaiting trial in court. It is not bothered by the fact that such trial by media is not only unethical but also violates the basic ethics of responsible and fair journalism.
To be very frank, this is not to condone any of such terrorist acts if they occur in any part of the country; rather one would want that the law of the land should be equally applicable in all such cases and it should not appear that it is favouring/targeting a particular community.
Things have reached such a pass that it would not be an exaggeration to say that it is a new trend where ‘terrorisation’ and ‘stigmatisation’ of the minority community is reaching menacing proportions. The pattern of mindless arrests for the sake of branding innocent persons as terrorists and resorting to relentless torture is coming under increasing scrutiny. And it is quite natural that it is giving rise to perceptible anger all across the country.
Perhaps the recent decision of the UP Government asking a retired judge to ascertain whether two persons arrested for the court blasts in the State are indeed terrorists or not, is an indicator of the pressure governments are facing over repeated complaints that the State Police is implicating Muslims as terrorists. The case involves the arrest of Khalid Mujahid and Tariq, claiming them to be members of Harkat-ul-Jehadi (HuJI) who were implicated for executing the serial blasts that left 14 people dead. If one searches the record of the Jamia Tul-Salahat Madarsa in Jaunpur where Khalid use to teach, it tells us that not only was he present on the day (March 23) in the Madarsa but had also checked the copies of the students.The judge has been asked to cross-check the UP Police story which says that Khalid landed in Lucknow in a bus on November 23 morning, met other accomplices, bought new cycles, planted bombs in the Lucknow court premises and returned immediately to Jaunpur.
ONE can just go on narrating instances of the highhandedness of the police and the callousness of the polity in turning a blind eye towards continuous stigmatisation of a particular community. As already mentioned, this is an understanding which has received a new boost in the aftermath of 9/11 and the ‘war against terror’ unleashed by the US regime, to further its imperialist ambitions.
Any impartial enquiry into the state of affairs would make it clear that the need of the hour is to understand that ‘terrorism’ cannot be the monopoly of a particular community. It is a product of the typical circumstances which societies encounter or find themselves in and the nature of the dominant or dominated forces in operation in those societies and their larger worldview.
There is no denying the fact that civil society at large at some level has accorded legitimacy to all such actions by the police. If that would not have been the case there would have been an uproar at the national level when it was revealed how ‘Intelligence Bureau operatives colluded with Delhi Police to brand two of its own informers as dreaded terrorists’. It was sheer coincidence that the matter reached the CBI which exposed the dark machinations of the dirty tricks brigade.
A write-up in The Times of India “IB, cops in murky frame-up” (by Sachin Parashar, New Delhi, September 13, 2007) had presented all relevant details of the case.
New Delhi: The CBI has found that Intelligence Bureau operatives colluded with the Delhi Police’s special cell sleuths to ‘plant’ RDX on two youths who were arrested as ‘Al Badr terrorists’, TOI has learnt. The shocking conclusion comes a month after the agency told the Delhi High Court that the special cell’s probe into the murky affair “didn’t inspire confidence”.
Top CBI sources told TOI on Wednesday that the seized RDX appeared to have been planted on the two ‘terrorists’ Mohd Moarif Qamar and Irshad Ali. The agency will submit its report, which indicts officers of IB and Delhi Police special cell, to the court on October 24.
While similar episodes in the past have hurt the credibility of the anti-terror agencies, this one stands out because it marks a rare instance where Intelligence Bureau operatives collaborated in the plot hatched by Delhi Police’s special cell against its former informers.
A few months back one was witness to a furore over the violation of human rights and dignity of Dr Haneef in Australia. Thanks to the support provided by the international media and human rights organisations and the concern expressed in the polity here, it did not take much time for either the Australian judiciary and executive to release Dr Haneef. We were also told then that our honourable Prime Minister Manmohan Singh personally felt disturbed over the plight of Dr Haneef and could not sleep that night.
Perhaps it is high time that the honourable Prime Minister is told that ‘Dr Haneef’ is not just the name of doctor who was wrongly apprehended in Australia; rather it is another name for a phenomenon which is quite rampant in this part of the earth.
And the case of Pervez Ahmad Radoo is one such important case which demands his immediate intervention. Only such a move can bring back the smile on Professor Sanaullah’s face!