State terrorism and Muslim youths

By Abu Zafar Adil Azmi,

(Translated from Urdu by Mumtaz Alam Falahi)

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This is a fact that no society can live long with injustice and double standard in giving justice to its people. Unfortunately our country India is fast turning into a society of that character. The attitude of police, administration and judiciary towards Muslim youths arrested in connection with terror cases shows the double standard of justice in the country.

There were several devastating bomb blasts in the country in 2008 in which hundreds of people were killed and several hundreds injured. Consequently, hundreds of Muslim youths have been put behind bar under the charges of terror activities.

In the name of terror every year scores of Muslim youths had been arrested for past some time but the trend got momentum soon after the blasts in courts in Uttar Pradesh in 2007 and it is still going on. The details of the cases against the Muslim youths show that the police and administration have deliberately implicated them in scores of cases. Given the speed of disposal of court cases, it seems they will perhaps be never released.

The pattern of investigation of police in terror cases was already questioned but indiscriminate arresting of Muslim youths in terror cases in recent time and accusing them in 40-40 and 50-50 cases gives a feeling that this all is part of a big conspiracy. Muslim youths had been implicated in terror cases earlier also but most of them were acquitted by the court as the police could not prove charges but the big number of cases in the recent blasts points toward a big conspiracy.

In connection with the July 2008 Ahmedabad serial blasts and recovery of dozens of bombs in Surat the police have accused 102 people in 35 cases. Of the accused 52 have been arrested and most of them are accused in all 35 cases. For May 2008 Jaipur blasts 11 people have been made accused in 8 cases. Four are arrested. For September 2008 Delhi serial blasts 28 people have been made accused in 8 cases. Sixteen have been arrested. Besides, the Mumbai police have arrested 21 people accusing them as member of the Indian Mujahideen.

Mumbai Crime Branch has made Sadiq Sheikh as main conspirator of all blasts in recent past in the country. Mechanical engineer by profession, 38-year-old Sadiq Sheikh is the founder member of Indian Mujahideen, according to Mumbai police. He with the help of his Pakistani friend Amir Raza hatched the conspiracy of blasts in the country. Atif Ameen who was killed in the Batla House encounter had close contact with Sheikh. Police says Sheikh is involved in all blasts in the country since 2005. He went to Pakistan in 2001 and got training in fire arms and weapons. After that he sent several youths from Mumbai and Azamgarh to Pakistan for similar training. There are 54 cases against Sheikh in Ahmedabad, Surat, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Mumbai. He has also been accused along with his nine friends for July 11 2006 Mumbai local train bombings. He was arrested under MCOCA and in confession he admitted his role in the train bombings. The confession was telecast by some TV channels. After that the Mumbai Crime Branch handed over the case to Maharashtra ATS. ATS immediately appealed to court to ban media from publishing stories about it. The court accepted the appeal. The ATS gave clean chit to Sadiq Sheikh and told MCOCA court that he had no role in the July 2006 train bombings but he confessed about it under pressure from Atif Ameen (who was killed in police encounter in Batla House on September 19, 2008). The ATS, however, did not give details as to when and why Atif threatened Sheikh when according to police Atif was junior to Sheikh in the Indian Mujahideen.

One of the key accused for these blasts is Muhammad Saif. Hailing from Sanjarpur village in Azamgarh, Saif was doing MA in History in Delhi. He was also doing courses in English speaking and computer application. After the encounter at Batla House, the police arrested Saif from that flat. Saif, 23, is accused in 45 cases in Delhi, Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Surat. He has been charged for planting bombs in these cities.

Meanwhile, UP police has said Saif is involved in UP court blasts also. Then they took him in their custody in connection with the blasts at Sankat Mochan Mandir and railway station in Varanasi but could not charge sheet him so far in this case.

Mansoor Asghar Peerbhoy of Pune was arrested for sending mail in the name of Indian Mujahideen before the blasts. Just one month before the arresting, Peerbhoy had joined Yahoo as principal engineer with the annual salary package of Rs 19 lakh. More than 40 cases have been slapped against him in Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Surat, Delhi and Hyderabad for blast conspiracy and cyber crime.

Mufti Abul Bashar was arrested jointly by Gujarat Police and UP ATS from his Beenapara village in Azamgarh on August 14, 2008 but his arresting was shown from Charbagh Railway Station in Lucknow and he was declared as the mastermind of Ahmedabad blasts and chief of Indian Mujahideen. He is facing 40 cases in Ahmedabad, Surat, Hyderabad and Balgam.

Qayamuddin Kapadia was arrested early January 2009 in Madhya Pradesh but his family members say they had no contact with him for five months before his arresting. Charges against him include his being senior member of SIMI, holding terror training camps in the jungles of Gujarat and Kerala and conspiring for blasts in Ahmedabad, Surat and Delhi. He is facing 40 cases in different states.

The 38-year-old Arif Badruddin Sheik of Asroli village in Azamgarh is being described by the Mumbai police as expert of bomb making. Father of 3 Sheikh has been accused for all terror blasts since 2005 in the country. Arif‘s father was mentally challenged. A couple of months after the arresting he died. His mother is blind and living with her daughter-in-law in a dilapidated house in the village. He is also facing 41 cases in Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad and Surat.

Saifur Rahman was arrested by Madhya Pradesh ATS from Jabalpur in April 2009 when he was taking his sister from Azamgarh to her in-laws in Mumbai. They were travelling in Godan Express. ATS kept her sister also in custody for 12 hours. Saifur Rahman has been accused for blasts in Jaipur and Ahmedabad. He confessed his involvement in the blasts before the Magistrate in Bhopal but retracted before the Jaipur magistrate saying he was under pressure from Madhya Pradesh ATS. He told the Jaipur magistrate that ATS tortured him and threatened to rape her sister who was in their custody. Then Jaipur ATS requested the Jaipur court for narco test on Saifur Rahman but court declined.

There was a dramatic turn in the Jaipur blast case when an accused Shahbaz Hussain pleaded the court to order narco and other test on him so that he could be proved innocent. This was the first instance in the history of the country that an accused himself was demanding narco test on him. Prosecution opposed the demand and thus the court rejected Hussain’s appeal.

These are some prominent names among the 200 people arrested in recent months in connection with terrorism. The number of absconders in these cases is higher than those arrested. The police and government have severely violated human rights in these cases.

Cases have been mounted upon Muslim youths after their arresting. It is rare in the history of the country. Sadiq Sheikh is facing 54 serious cases and police has not yet taken him on remand in many of these cases. If police takes him on police remand for 14 days it will take 2 years for all cases. And taking an accused from one state to another will take more time. It can be guessed how much time it will take from filing chargesheet to completion of trial. It is necessary for an accused to be present during trial, according to Indian law.

There are reports that these accused have been assaulted even in jails apart from what they suffered in police custody and some more charges added to the list of cases. In Gujarat now these accused are facing 36 cases – one case added after they were assaulted in Sabarmati jail.

On mounting of cases on terror accused, Manisha Sethi, leader of Jamia Solidarity Group, says: “by this the government wants to complicate the case so that it could absolve itself from its responsibility and has an excuse to torment Muslims.” “Imported concept of War on Terror is being encouraged by the Congress and it is using it as a weapon against the Muslims,” says Manisha who teaches comparative study of religions at Jamia Millia Islamia.

Sanjarpur Sangharsh Samiti president Masihuddin says that the natural life time will not be enough for the accused to prove themselves innocent.

Advocate Shahid Azmi, who is taking the case of Sadiq Sheikh and other accused on behalf of Jamiat Ulema-I-Hind sees a well thought out conspiracy against Muslims. According to him, this is a conspiracy to spoil the life of educated Muslim youths in jails. Such technique was used against Naxalites also. Many of them are in jails for last 30 years and are facing 70-80 cases” he says.

Rajiv Yadav, Joint Secretary, UP chapter of People’s Union for Civil Liberties, says: This style has been imported from America where this was used against Blacks. Either they were slapped with a number of cases or were awarded sentences of 200 or 250 years in jail.

Families and relatives of the accused are speechless seeing the gravity and number of cases.

Cases against terror accused in different places

Name Ahmedabad Surat Delhi Mumbai Jaipur Others Total


20 15 5 1 Hyd, Kol 54
Arif Badr 20 15 5 1 41


20 15 5 1 41
Md Saif 20 15 5 5 45
Mufti Abul
21 15 Belgam, Hyd. 40
Saifur Rahman 20 15 6 40


21 15 5 Indore 40
Jawed Ahmed
Sagir Ahmed
21 15 36
Ghyasuddin 21 15 36
Zakir A Haq
20 15 1 36
Saqib Nisar 20 15 5 40
Zeeshan 20 15 5 40

The police have also broken records in filing charge sheets. The police have filed 60,000-page chargesheet in 35 cases of Ahmedabad and Surat. Mumbai Crime Branch has filed 1800-page chargesheet. Similarly Jaipur has filed 12,000-page chargesheet in 8 cases. All charge sheets are in Hindi, Gujarati or Marathi. If case reaches Supreme Court, translation of these charge sheets will be another expensive and time taking job.

Cases and Chargsheets in different cities

Cities No. of cases No. of accused No. of arrested Pages of chargsheet
& Surat
36 102 52 60,000
Mumbai 1 26 21 1809
Jaipur 8 11 4 12,000
Delhi 7 28 16 10,000

The prosecution has also gathered a crowd as witnesses in cases. A case has 50-250 witnesses.

What is more disturbing is that many of the accused in Ahmedabad and Surat cases are those who were already in jails several months before the terror attacks took place there. For example, Safdar Nagori, former secretary, SIMI, and other 13 accused including Shibli, Hafeez and Amil Perwaz were arrested on March 27, 2008 in Madhya Pradesh. But they have been charged as main conspirators in Ahmedabad and Surat cases. Similarly, Raziuddin Nasir, Allah Bakhsh and Mirza Ahmed are in Karnataka police custody since January 2008 but they also have been accused in Ahmedabad and Surat cases.

Advocate Shahid Azmi says charge of conspiracy is a weapon that police uses to implicate anyone in any case. Talking to Afkar-e-Milli he revealed: “Afzal Muttalib Usmani whose arresting was shown in Mumbai on September 24 was actually arrested on August 27 from Lok Manya Tilak Terminus. Afzal was coming from his hometown Mau on Godan Express to appear in a different case in Mumbai. We informed concerned authorities about this through telegram but it was ignored. On 28 August he was presented before the 37 Metropolitan Magistrate in Mumbai but on the direction of Crime Branch court did not register his arresting or remand. Similarly Sadiq Sheikh was arrested on August 17 but his arresting was shown with explosives and arms along with five others on August 24.”…

Advocates admit that no trial in these cases will take less than 2 years. It will be much longer as several individuals are accused in different cases at different places.

The question is how long an old father will struggle for the release of his son. It is around one year when they were arrested but neither charges were framed nor trial started. How much time they will need to prove their innocence? Given the pace of judicial process, will they be alive to see the result of the case? This is not the question of a Sadiq Sheikh, Mufti Abul Bashar Mansoor Asghar, Arif Badr or Saifur Rahman but of the 200 youths who are in jails for the last one year.

(The article was originally published in the August 2009 issue of Urdu monthly Afkar-e-Milli)