www.sacw.net | December 6, 2004
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE PRIME MINISTER OF INDIA
To The Hon'ble Prime Minister of India,
9, Race Course Road,
26 November .2004
Dear Mr Prime Minister,
Re: The attack on Parliament and its implications
We, the undersigned citizens, have read an appeal made by the wife of Mohammad Afzal, the man sentenced to death for conspiring to attack the lndian Parliament on December 13, 2001. It is a very moving appeal published in various Urdu and EngIish newspapers in Kashmir and crculated over the internet. We would not have written this letter to you if it was merely a question of a sentimental appeal by a wife whose husband has been sentenced to death. We believe the letter focuses on some basic issues that touch on the question of Indian democracy.
We are well aware of the very serious implications of the attack on Parliament. We do not condone the act in any way. ln fact we believe that the foremost question that needs to be answered is who attacked our Parliament? Immediately after the attack the former Home Minister announced that the five attackers who were killed by the security forces were Pakistanis because they "looked like Pakistanis". After that we have had no information on the identity of the attackers and the failure of the intelligence services.
Instead, in the name of war against terrorism and national security hard-won democratic rights of Indian people are being eroded. This is indeed a very disturbing trend. The Special Branch of the Delhi Police arrested four persons, three Kashmiri men and a Sikh woman married to one of these men.
We have been foliowing the Padiament attack case closely and many of us have been attending the hearings in the court. From the time the Special Branch of Delhi police arrested four persons on charges of conspiring to attack the Parliament many prominent citizens and human rights organizations have raised many questions and expressed certain concems. We believe that those concerns need to be addressed at the highest level and that js why we are writing to you.
1. We still do not know who attacked our Parliament and what were the motivations. Neither the Sessions Court nor the High Court of Delhi has gone into the question. The prosecution produced 80 witnesses. None of them even mentioned that the four persons accused of conspiring to attack the Parliament have any link to any illegal or banned organization. All of them were acquitted of charges of belonging to a terrorist organization.
2. The main accused in the case is Mohammad Afzal, a self confessed surrendered militant of the JKLF. It is unbelievable that the pro-Pakistani Jaish-e-Mohammad should use a surrendered militant (a renegade in the eyes of militants) for such an operation. Afzal has confessed to being a surrendered militant but he said he was asked by the STF Force to take one Mohammad to Delhi. If a man is given death penalty on the basis of one part of his confession then equity demands that the other part be aiso taken into account.
3. This was the first trial under the POTA. Even though POTA has been repealed the repeal does not apply retrospectively. Thus confessions to a policeman are admissible evidence. It is our experience that confessions are invariably taken under torture and when we remember the memories of torture he lives with it is not hard to imagine that he had no way of defending himself.
4. The police exposed Mohammad Afzal before the national media and made him implicate himself. When Afzal told the media that Geelani was not involved the ACP, Rajbir Singh, shouted at Afzal and told him to keep quiet and then the police officer told the media not to report this statement. Subsequently, the police officers denied having the press conference on oath. All this is a part of court records.
5. None of the four accused in the Parliament attack case have been given a fair trial. None of the four were allowed access to a lawyer for months after their arrest. Afzal was not even represented by a lawyer in the trial court. The lawyer appointed by the Sesssions court did not seek instructions from Afzal or bother to properly cross examine the prosecution witnesses.
6. It is true Afsan Guru (Navjot Guru) has been acquitted but she has been given no compensation for the horrifying days she, a seven month pregant woman, spent in Tihar jail.
7. Syed Abdui Rehrnan Geeiani was also acquitted. There was not an iota of evidence against him. However, the policemen who framed him on the basis of forged documents and fabricated evidence have been recently been given gallantry awards by your Government. The first Judge of the designated court, Shri S N Dhingra, exhibited his communal bias in open court and in the judgement he delivered condemning Mr Geelani to death without any evidence. Jn the course of the judgement he even stated that he had learnt Kashmiri language in the course of a few lessons so he was capable of assessing the evidence which required knowledge of the language and its idiomatic usage.
8. From the day Mr Geelani stepped out of Tihar jail he has been speaking about the horrendous conditions under which the prisoners in the high risk cells are kept and the treatment meted out to Muslim prisoners. Instead of the national Human Rights Commission taking this as an opportunity to investigate into the problem the NHRC closed the case filed by Mr Geelani on the ground that the jail authorities have denied the charges.
9. The media has not been even reporting the case that is now pending before the Supreme Court.
It seems the entire country believes that talking about human rights is a threat to national security. We are concerned that this attitude has resulted in giving the police an exaggerated sense of self-importance and they have been able to act as if they are above the law. Corruption and communalism has seeped into the democratic, secular fabric of all institutions. The denial of fair trial to Kashmiri Mustrms results in undermining our own democracy and denies Indian citizens of any forum for the redressal of our grievances.
It is these circumstances that compelled us to write this Open Letter to you. We
would like that you:
A. Bring out a white paper on the Parliament attack
B. Institute a high level judicial inquiry into the illegal practices of the Special Branch of the Delhi Police, induding allegations of corruption, violations of fair trial standards and allegations of false encounters.
C. Institute a judicial [enquiry] into the allegations made by Mohammad Afzal and his wife about the torture and extortion by the STF officers.
D. Punish the guilty policemen who framed Mr Geelani and Afsan Guru
E. Punish Shri S N Dhingra for his communalism and violation of the Constitutional principles.
F. Direct the NHRC to make a proper investigation into the conditions of those
detained in Tihar jail's high risk cells.
We believe only such an intervention from the highest level can curb the process of communalization and corruption of our democratic institutions. That is the reason, Mr Prime Minister, we the undersigned have made this appeal to you
Madhu Prasad Zakir Hussain College (ZHC), Delhi University
Neeraj Malik I.P. College, Delhi University
Sadaf (student, ZHC)
N Mukkherji Dept. Of Philiosophy, Delhi University
Naveen Chandra DSU / Delhi University
P.K. Vijayan Hindu College, Delhi University
A F Mathew MICA, Ahmedabad
Anshuman Singh Dyal Singh College, Delhi University
Tripta Wahi Delhi University
Vinod K Jose
Shweta Rani Hindi Department, Delhi University
Anand Chakravarti Department of Sociology, Delhi University
Kamal Mitra Chenoy Jawaharlal Nehru University
Anuradha M. Chenoy Jawaharlal Nehru University
Dunu Roy Hazards Centre, New Delhi
Jawaid Iqbal Bhat Jawaharlal Nehru University
Rohan D'Souza Jawaharlal Nehru University
I Qadeer Jawaharlal Nehru University
D Kumar Jawaharlal Nehru University
Praveen Jha Jawaharlal Nehru University
S N Malakar Jawaharlal Nehru University
Utsa Patnaik Jawaharlal Nehru University
Jayati Ghosh Jawaharlal Nehru University
Dhruv Raina Jawaharlal Nehru University
Mohan Rao Jawaharlal Nehru University
T G Suresh Jawaharlal Nehru University
Aparajit Chattopadhyay Jawaharlal Nehru University
Indira Chakravarthi Jawaharlal Nehru University
Dr. Anwar Pasha Jawaharlal Nehru University
Dr. K J Mukherjee Jawaharlal Nehru University
Dr G M Shah Jamia Milia Islamia
Nasir Raza Jamia Milia Islamia
Dr Anuradha Ghosh Jamia Milia Islamia
Dr Biswajit Das Jamia Milia Islamia
Deepak Kem Jamia Milia Islamia
Roomy Naqvy Jamia Milia Islamia
(among a total list of 84 signatories)
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