Archive for September, 2008

A warning on terror from Frontier Frank By Christina Lamb, Sunday Times of London

September 30, 2008

FOOD FOR THOUGHT FOR INDIA’S POLICYMAKERS: Think before you leap with the US






From The Sunday Times
September 21, 2008


A warning on terror from Frontier Frank


Waziristan is America’s new front line in the war against the Taliban. The last British officer to have served there, now 81, tells it cannot be tamed by force alone

Overlooking the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, from the Paktika province of eastern Afghanistan. The outpost, only 800 meters from the border, is frequently attacked by Taliban forces, many of whom cross over from the South Waziristan tribal area of Pakistan
Christina Lamb

Few places on earth are as remote and hostile as Waziristan, part of the Pakistani tribal belt that the Pentagon now sees as the new front line in the war on terror. When the Americans started dropping bombs and sending commandos into the area last month, few westerners had heard of it. But to one retired insurance manager living by the sea in West Sussex, the name brought back vivid memories.

At almost 82, Frank Leeson is the last surviving British officer to have served in Waziristan. After years of quiet retirement with Gloria, his wife of 50 years, he suddenly finds himself in demand. Since Michael Hayden, director of the CIA, recently described the tribal areas as “a clear and present danger to Afghanistan, to Pakistan and to the West”, western officials have been hotfooting it to Leeson’s door to hear his tales.

In the crowded study of his chintz-curtained home in Ferring, he sits surrounded by books on the frontier tribes and black-and-white photographs that show him as a fresh-faced young man in shorts alongside ferocious Waziri tribesmen in elaborate turbans. “These are probably the grandfathers of the Taliban of today,” he says.

When he was just 19, Leeson found himself commanding the Khassadars, a tribal force of 1,000 Waziris. Their task was to keep the roads of North Waziristan safe for trade and British Army convoys during a long-running insurgency led by a religious hermit turned militant known as the Fakir of Ipi. “He was the Bin Laden of his day,” says Leeson. “He led us British a merry dance but we never caught him.”


Neatly written diaries recount his two years among one of the most ferocious tribes of the Frontier. His days were spent trying to organise his tribesmen into a disciplined force; in the evenings, when he was the only Briton in a mudwalled fort, he listened to Mozart piano concertos on a gramophone.

Modern British forces make much of how they try to learn about the culture before going out to Afghanistan. But their deployments are just six months compared with Leeson’s two years. While they generally spend downtime watching DVDs and reading thrillers, Leeson spent much of his spare time studying the local clan system and drawing intricate diagrams of their rifles. He learnt fluent Pashto and is probably the only man in Ferring who knows how to greet a Waziri: “Staraya ma shai” (May you never be tired).

Today he follows events avidly, spotting uneasy parallels with his own time and wondering what has been learnt. “I’m shattered, hearing the news and knowing all those places,” he says. “The Muslims I knew then were quite different, before the mujaheddin and the mad-rasahs. It was very tolerant. But it’s a perfect hiding place for terrorists, riddled with valleys and caves.”

As Leeson points out, Waziristan was the scene of Britain’s longest 20th-century antiinsurgency campaign, with fighting going on for 11 years from 1936-47. The Fakir of Ipi was never caught, even though in 1936-7 alone more than 40,000 troops were sent in and £1.5m was spent on ammunition and bombs.

“It was the forgotten front of the second world war,” says Leeson. Constantly on the move, hiding in the caves and mountains straddling the border with Afghanistan, the Fakir of Ipi – who died in 1960 – carried out a wave of terrorist attacks that killed thousands of villagers and 1,000 troops. Having managed to unite warring tribes such as the Wazirs and the Mehsuds, he was protected by fiercely loyal bodyguards and ran an effective intelligence network. He was helped with funds and arms by the Germans and Italians.

“It’s the worst mountain warfare country imaginable for a conventional army,” says Leeson. “Steep precipices, narrow winding valleys, every vantage point commanded by another and numerous refuges and escape routes.”

The son of an organist and choir-master in Bournemouth, Leeson was called up in 1944 and sent to India for officer training in Banga-lore – eventually becoming a lieutenant in the Sikh Regiment. In 1946 there was a call for qualified officers to volunteer for a special mission in Waziristan. A common expression in the army was “the only good Wazir is a dead Wazir”. They apparently spent their time killing each other, stealing cattle and sending raiding parties into British territory.

But to the 19-year-old Leeson it all sounded exciting. So in November 1946 he set off on the “Heatstroke Express” for the 250-mile rail journey to Bannu, then travelled on by bus. Leeson’s first night as one of four British officers commanding the Khassadars was spent in a fort at Miranshah, the capital of North Waziristan. Today the town is the headquarters of Jalaluddin Haqqani, the Taliban commander; just 10 days ago a US missile strike killed 12 people there.

When Leeson arrived, the hills at the far end of the valley were the headquarters of the elusive Ipi. After a soak in a zinc bath, the newcomer was taken to the officers’ mess.

“It was explained to me that the job of the British was to control, not govern, the tribes,” he recalls. This was done through a combination of carrot and stick. Allowances were paid to local elders or maliks, who put forward a number from each of their subtribes to be Khassadars. “We’re supposed to trust them but we can’t,” Leeson was told – a similar sentiment to the remarks uttered by the troops working with the Afghan police in Helmand today.

The next day, information came in that the Fakir had organised a small army to invade the town of Spinwam and punish tribesmen for allowing through an infidels’ convoy. A jirga of tribal elders was convened with the aim of convincing them to stand up to Ipi’s men – with the promise of Leeson’s Khassadars as reinforcements.

Leeson described the elders as “tough, shifty-faced men”. Later he wrote: “It’s not easy to like the Wazir. He takes a lot of knowing. He loves fighting but hates to be a soldier. He loves music but has profound contempt for the musician.”

Spinwam was where Leeson was to be stationed and his route there the next day gave a good sense of what the British were up against. The road was littered with mangled steel and concrete remains – every bridge had been blown up by Ipi. Everyone Leeson passed was armed. The houses were all forts with thick mudwalls and a watchtower, from which men could see enemies approach.

At the fort in Spinwam he was met with sweet tea and cream biscuits and was introduced to his Khassadar bodyguards, “a picturesque gang of rascals with hooked noses”. His job of trying to inject discipline into their ranks was “a thankless task”.

The idea behind the Khassadar system – set up in 1921 – was to make the tribes responsible for securing their own areas and to distract young men from brigandry by giving them full-time employment. “The problem was that by 1946 the Frontier legion had deteriorated to such an extent that many did little or no duty in return for their pay and had come to regard the money as a bribe against active hostility to the government,” says Leeson.

“It had become like a family business where if a Khassadar died or resigned, his job – and rank – was passed to a son.” Leeson’s task was not helped by lack of funds for uniform and equipment. Khassadars had to provide their own ammunition – but, as he discovered, the impressive bandoliers they wore across their chests were often full of empty cartridges.

Every morning he held what were known as malikats – when Khassadars came in with complaints or petitions asking for time off to gather crops, attend weddings or funerals or finish off a blood feud. “The Pathan loves to embroider his stories,” says Leeson, laughing. Yet he grew to admire them, describing them as having “eyes full of manliness, laughter and the devil”.

He also learnt that nothing interfered with the Pathan code of honour, which is based on three principles: hospitality, protection and retaliation. “A man who has killed the brother of another need only go to his house to be treated as an honoured guest,” he said. It is this tradition of providing refuge even to those who have committed a crime that may have led Osama Bin Laden to choose the area as a hiding place.

Although improvised explosive devices did not exist in Leeson’s day, ambushes of British convoys were frequent. When he did travel, it was in an anonymous red lorry and he wore local dress.

Whenever there was trouble from a tribe, his Khassadars would be sent out with British forces to do a round-up. He would not inform the men until just before leaving as some might have been from the same tribe and would tip off the village. Then the British would hang back as they sent the Khassadars in.

“For political reasons, it was wiser to keep British officers out of the homes of possible hostiles, so we let their fellow tribesmen do the unpleasant task of turning them over to government,” he says.

It must have been a lonely life for a 19-year-old, listening to records and waiting for the post from home every fortnight, but Leeson remembers it fondly: “I particularly liked getting the illustrated magazines in the mail and showing them to my bodyguards. They couldn’t imagine a place where the ordinary man in the street doesn’t carry a rifle.”

More than 60 years later, his mind often drifts back to Waziristan. “I never imagined it would be in the news all these years on,” he says. “It’s very odd to see those familiar barren hills on TV.” He has now turned his diaries into a privately published memoir, Frontier Legion, and with the help of his grand-children has made a Power-Point presentation of his maps and photographs to show visitors.

He believes the Americans should learn a lesson from the British experience. “Using force alone is not the way,” he says. The Pakistani government is hoping the West is listening. Asif Zardari, the country’s new president and the widower of Bena-zir Bhutto, flew into London on Tuesday and met Gordon Brown and Dav-id Miliband, the foreign secretary.

Wajid Shamsul Hassan, Pakistan’s high commissioner in London, afterwards described the meeting as “more than excellent”. He said: “The British with all their history in that region know that these bombings and intrusions don’t help us but help the very people we’re supposed to be fighting.”

My brother is in the Army and they are based in Helmand. What he says sounds very similar to Mr. Frank Leeson’s experience. He writes pages of what had went through and how they are trying their best to make peace with tribes, and he says the people are the most honest but dangerous. 

Nick, ON, CA

Nick Mark , Toronto , Canada

Jeff, 75% U have quoted is a gross overestimation. Could u plz provide the source of info.If you see political history of Pakistan, all parties(combined) demanding a constitution based on sharia have never got >5% of casted votes. The parties advocating modern democracy have always prevailed

Talat, Islamabad,

it will be interesting to see how west handles this very dangerous area.so far they have not been able to do any substantial progress in afghanistan.For those making comment i would recomend to learn a bit more about the area and the tribal system.To me frank was right then & today

umair chaudhry, brampton, canada

I would assure you the US is aware of the culture. How it will be approached will be quite different from the historical British approach. 
If the Pakistan Government responds, then they are ahead of the game. Iran was never second on OBL’s list. 

Mike, santa fe, NM,

‘Every problem, considered closely enough, contains it’s solution’ 
Buddha

Chris, London,

I forgot the Brits like Des Browne want to call surrender “negotiations” – it sounds so much better that way. Never mind that 75 percent of the Pakistani public call for strict Sharia, never mind that Al-Qaeda has nuclear Pakistan as a new base, never mind that the Taliban seek a global caliphate.

Jeffrey, DC, USA

Jeffrey who said surrender? Are all you yank’s slow in the head? This man is merely saying lesson’s need to be learnt American army think’s it can go gung -ho wherever it wants look at the Paistani army they are suffering heavy losses everyday even they can’t handle the sitaution.

Tim, London, United Kingdom

What we read about now is only coverage on attempt to kill OBL before presidential elections in the US. US military and CIA could kill him every time since 9/11 2001. But they deliberately did not do it in order to earn as much as possible taxpayers’ money. At the result of unsuccessful wars, America received worst financial crisis.

Dmitry, Moscow, Russia

Jeffery, DC 

The article is not suggesting that the US surerrender in the war on terror. The message of the article is that lessons can be learnt, knowing the “enemy” is key. 

As this article shows dealing with insurgants is a far from easy task that requires more than just a gung ho approach.

Car, Eastbourne, UK

Quite pathetic that your best argument to get U.S. to surrender on Jihad has to come from a person who remembers Pakistan from 60+ years ago. Bravo London Times – in terms of fantastic leaps of logic you have truly outdone yourself this time. Perhaps you should go back to focusing on OBL’s poems.

Jeffrey, DC, USA

It’s highly doubtful that the US armed forces will ever appreciate the nuance of Frank’s memoirs and guidance. 
The Afghans saw off the Brits and the Soviets. I doubt the brainless Yanks will fare much better. And if Iraq is the blueprint then there truly is no hope.

Mark, Doncaster,

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Indian leaders meet White westerners and turn to putty! By Ghulam Muhammed

September 30, 2008

 

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

 

Indian leaders meet White westerners and turn to putty!

 

What an irony! India that has never signed the Non Proliferation Treaty appears to demand in so many words that Iran should stick to its obligations under the NPT. And that too, when there is clear unequivocal assertion by Iran that it has no program to develop a nuclear device. It is understandable, that Israel and its supporters in the West, in general and French President Sarkozy in particular, who is himself Jewish, has Israel’s ‘national interest’ always at heart, should be pressing our Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh, to rise up to the occasion of signing deals in France for the purchase of civilian nuclear plants, and say a word in favour of that ‘beleaguered’ nation of Israel, that has neatly tucked up a few if not hundreds of nuclear devices of its own in its secret armory. But it seems to be a weakness of our leaders that once they are meeting the western white leaders, they completely lose their composure.

 

Only last week, PM Manmohan Singh was so full of himself, that he found it nothing off when he addressed President George Bush in White House and said, ‘India loves you’. For a lame duck US President, whose own people have forsaken him and who is loathed around the world, as per a Pew survey, our Prime Minister’s poetic overshoot, was most jarring to Indians back home.  Just like the Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, who became so effusive while meeting Sarah Palin, the Republican Party nominee for Vice-Presidential slot, a mother of 5, as to be virtually flirting with her on camera; our own Prime Minister lost all his self-respect and dignity and could have gone on his knees to thank Bush for receiving him in the Oval Office? (Granted Oval Office has some magic that could even overpower a nubile Monica to perform unthinkables. But our PM has his years behind him to help fortify his composure and do proud to our country.)

 

One is reminded of the sorry plight of an earlier Indian minister, Lal Krishna Advani, who as per the protocol, was not eligible to meet President Bush, but in the interest of his own country, George W. Bush was very ‘generous’ in granting him an audience.

 

That honour so shook Advani, that once President Bush had to throw his arm around Advani’s shoulder and Advani instantly promised to send Indian troops to fight on the side of US forces in that illegal invasion of a friendly country of Iraq, that supplied oil to India on heavily subsidized rate all through the years that Saddam was ruling. Advani had to eat his words when back home Indian people roared against any such misadventure and the people came out right at the end of it all.

 

One is at loss to figure out how India would fare in the hands of such putty personalities, who stalk high when at home, but turn gooey when confronting a white westerner. The inroad that Israel is making, especially as supplier of defence material, is most worrisome when it is matched with the Army’s recent stand on more pay. How this interaction between a foreign supplier and our putty soldiers, if any, will fold out, should be watched with keen caution, lest our army goes the way of the Pakistan army, under such ‘friendly’ camaraderie.

 

In this regard, it will be not amiss to remember Indira Gandhi, who carried the full weight and glory of India on her shoulders, when she met foreign leaders. Another example of hard nut performance by any Indian abroad could not ignore our Commerce Minister Kamalnath’s brave and courageous move to stand firm for the country’s interest and defy all the pressures of the western powers by calling off the whole world trade Doha round of negotiations.

 

 

Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai

ghulammuhammed3@gmail.com

www.ghulammuhammed.wordpress.com

 

Sending A Wrong Message

September 30, 2008

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

 

 

Dear Arif Mohammed Khan Saheb, ASAK

 

The headline of your today’s article: Sending a wrong message’, is very apt for my own comments to you.

 

You wrote:

 

‘Sohail Abbas, a leading Pakistani psychologist, in his recently published study based on personal interviews of the 517 mujahideen arrested  in Afghanistan and later lodged in two Pakistani jails, asserts that ‘the figure on rural/urban jihadis become more interesting as all the jihadis, barring just a few, belong to the Deobandi school of thought”.

 

My own favorite story has one psychologist scratching his head as to why a KG student is drawing all his subjects, a house, a toy, a flower, a car, a tree — all coloured yellow; till the teacher came over and explained that the boy has only one crayon in his box: yellow.

 

When a million refugees came over from Afghanistan to neighbouring Pakistan, during the war against Soviet Union forces occupying Afghanistan, only the established Deobandi teachers were available to teach the refugee children and all for free. So what should we expect, if not Deobandis?

 

The most worrying aspect of your article is its focus on academics and not what is happening around us.

 

While you are focusing only on jihadis, the Bajrangis are having a ball burning up the whole country. The way, they have bombed in Modesa, Gujarat, Malegaon, where 7 people died and the protesting people had to suffer the further ignominy of police fire, it would seem the Bajrangis are treating India to be Ravan’s Lanka.

 

The bombing spree is becoming so common and the availability of explosive material and the know-how to make up an improvised explosive device is so rampant, that we can easily see a new civil war emerging from the political wrangling to grab power. If this is not stopped, neither L. K. Advani nor Shiv Raj Patil will have any effective control over their people to stop the spiraling violence.

 

Even objectively, if you are able to compare jihadis and Bajrangis, the latter have much more free license to spread the violence and with full impunity. Besides, they have a concrete goal. Jihadis lack both. At least in short run, before the elections.

 

So even if you are not obsessed with either siding with jihadis or castigating jihadis, you cannot close your eyes on what is happening all around you and choose to keep quite. The stakes for the common people of India are too high.

 

 

 

Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai

ghulammuhammed3@gmail.com

www.ghulammuhammed.wordpress.com

 

 

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Opinion/Editorial/LEADER_ARTICLE_Sending_A_Wrong_Message/articleshow/3542161.cms

 

LEADER ARTICLE:

 

Sending A Wrong Message

 

 

ARIF MOHAMMED KHAN

 

I was asked by a friend why Muslims generally refuse to believe that there are some from their community who are involved in terror attacks. And w

 

hy they smell, in such a suggestion, a conspiracy to malign them. My response is that Muslims are right in their attitude to the extent that most of them are unaware of the designs of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, best explained in the words of its chief: “Our aim is to weaken India from within and we can do it”. Secondly, and more important, is the fact that there is a total disconnect between Muslims and the madrassa-based clergy, which by its teachings creates a mindset among some that can easily be preyed upon and used by agents of terror for their own nefarious ends.

 

In this context it may be mentioned that after facing a great deal of criticism, the Deoband clergy responded by organising conferences and rallies against terrorism. I congratulated them after the first such conference in February, and sought their view about the contents of a part of its syllabus prescribed for its eight-year excellence in religion course (Fazeelat). I was keen to know how it could reconcile this syllabus with the unambiguous teachings of Quran on the subject as reflected in its declaration against terrorism. I am yet to receive a reply.

 

I shall point out the differences between what the Quran says on the subject of jihad and what the Deoband clergy teaches its students. Quran upholds the sanctity of life in most uncompromising terms and says: “If anyone slew a person unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if anyone saved a life it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.”

 

On the other hand, look at what the Deoband syllabus says: “The destruction of the sword is incurred by infidels, although they be not the first aggressors, as appears from various passages in the sacred writings which are generally received to this effect.”

 

On the subject of the duty of a Muslim to invite others to the fold of faith, the Quran says: “Invite (all) to the way of the Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for your Lord knows best who have strayed from His Path and who receive guidance.”

 

The Quran clearly places limitations on the responsibility of man in this matter. “Not upon you is their guidance but Allah guides whom He wills.” Further, the Quran totally rejects the use of any force and says: “If it had been the Lord’s will they would all have believed all who are on earth! Will you then compel mankind against their will to believe.”

 

But Deoband appears to approve the use of force to spread religion. Its syllabus states: “When the Muslims enter the enemy’s country and besiege the cities or strongholds of the infidels, it is necessary to invite them to embrace the faith, because Ibn Abbas relates of the Prophet that he never destroyed any without previously inviting them to embrace the faith. If, therefore, they embrace the faith, it is unnecessary to war with them, because that which was the design of the war is then obtained without war. The Prophet, moreover, has said we are directed to make war upon men only until such time as they shall confess, “There is no God but one God.”

 

The Deoband’s syllabus on jihad is clearly in conflict with the Quran, the book that is believed by Muslims to be the divine word. It is based on the Hedaya, a 12th century compilation of Muslim law, not on the statute books of even any Muslim country today; although in India its provisions regarding personal law are still referred to.

 

This syllabus is not confined to Deoband, the seminary that was established in 1866, but is prescribed in more than 5,000 of its affiliates across the country and thousands of madrassas in Pakistan run by former students of the Deoband. It is curious that for admission into these madrassas no formal application is needed; instead the madrassas send their recruitment teams to very poor and backward areas emphasising that the education, food, lodging and clothing provided in madrassas are all free. The Muslims who can afford to spend money on education very rarely send their children to madrassas; this makes it impossible for them to know about the teaching and training provided there, leading to the existing disconnect between common Muslims and the madrassas.

 

Sohail Abbas, a leading Pakistani psychologist, in his recently published study based on personal interviews of 517 mujahideen arrested in Afghanistan and later lodged in two Pakistani jails, asserts that “the figures on rural/urban jihadis become even more interesting as all the jihadis, barring just a few, belonged to the Deobandi school of thought”.

 

Keeping in mind the gravity of the threat posed by terrorism, it was the duty of the government to keep the public informed about all its dimensions. But when you pin your hopes on the clergy to deliver electoral dividends, then it becomes difficult to bring to light facts that may displease it.

 

The writer is a former Union minister.

 

 

‘No tangible proof of Muslims’ involvement in terrorism’

September 29, 2008
‘No tangible proof of Muslims’ involvement in terrorism’

Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan, head, Majlis-e-Mushawarat 
September 29, 2008
 
Upset at what they consider the deliberate implication of the Muslim community in terror attacks, varoius Muslim organisations last week formed an umbrella body — Coordination Committee for Indian Muslims — to raise their voice against the development. 

After a meeting at the Jamaat e Islami Hind in New Delhi [Images], held in the wake of the Jamia Nagar encounter in which two youth were shot dead and a police inspector was killed, they formed a five-member panel to counter the campaign against the community.
 
Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan, head of the All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat, who is a member of this five-member committee, tells Special Correspondent Vicky Nanjappa that anger among the Muslim, especially among the youth, is building up over the continuing demonisation of the community.
 
All the organisations with you seem to completely disagree with the Delhi police on the Jamia Nagar encounter.
 
There are many question marks about this “encounter”. Three fact-finding reports to date have raised questions about the incident and the police narrative. All pointers indicate that it was a fake encounter. The police team did not go there to kill but to investigate and arrest. They bungled the operation; their officer was killed by his own men. As a result, in a fit of rage they killed two so-called “terrorists” and injured a third. To justify the killing, they invented this whole story making them “masterminds” and extending the conspiracy to their home district Azamgarh where dozens of youths have been picked up both from Azamgarh and Delhi on mere suspicion.
 
Outlandish stories are being churned out by the police and lapped up by a stenographic media like the claim that the slain youths had received crores of rupees in their accounts while bank managers in Azamgarh said on camera that these youths had paltry sums in their accounts; or the fantastic claim that these same youths had planted bombs in Varanasi, Jaipur [Images], Hyderabad, Ahmedabad [Images] etc. This logically means that since all the masterminds have been now killed or arrested, India from now on will not witness a single terrorist attack.
 
Why do you think that those youth in particular were targeted?
 
According to the Mumbai police, they had passed on some information about these youths to the Gujarat police and asked them to observe them. The Gujarat police, highly discredited as it is for its communal bias and criminal role in the riots, jumped the gun and informed the Delhi police that these people were planning to carry out explosions. These youths must be one of many under observation in the country. It was their bad luck that a police officer was killed while trying to arrest them and they paid the price for this.
 
Subsequently, the entire Muslim community is made to pay the price of this khaki crime which is not new to Delhi. We have already experienced fake encounters at Ansal Plaza and Connaught Place in the past.
 
If the encounter was fake then what do you have to say about the death of M C Sharma?
 
It is pretty clear that Sharma was killed by his own men at very close range from behind. It was the mistake of the police to rush 2500 policemen into the narrow lanes of Batla House. They were deployed on various floors and rooftops of the same building as well as on the adjoining buildings. Such a mishap was bound to happen in such a situation.
 
Invariably, after every terror attack, Muslim youth are being accused of involvement. What does the community have to say about this?
 
It is true the finger is pointed at Muslims after each act of terror, but without proof in every single case. The same security and intelligence agencies which did not know anything about an impending attack a minute before it took place, suddenly and within minutes know every detail of the persons, organisations, funders etc behind the incident. They want to cover up their abject failure, and as the Muslims are the weakest section at this moment, the blame is safely pinned on them.
 
There are umpteen terrorist organisations in various parts of our country working for a variety of secessionist and political aims. It is possible that there may be a few Muslims too who are taking to terrorism, but till today we do not have tangible proof of this. There is no proof that the Students Islamic Movement of India, despite its extremist views, ever had any armed wing or imparted any armed training to its members. All we have is tall claims by various people and agencies which were trashed by their own hand-picked judge of the tribunal formed by the Union home ministry. Moreover, close to 50 SIMI [Images] activists have been acquitted to date by courts across the country.
 
It is natural that anger is building up among our youth for two reasons: justice is not done in cases of blatant pogroms, riots and demolition of Babri mosque, while Muslim youths are routinely killed in encounters or arrested on baseless charges which are not proved in a court of law.
 
Do you suspect the role of right-wing Hindu outfits in some of the blasts that have occurred in the country?
 
We do not only suspect. Rather, we firmly believe that many acts of terrorism blamed on Muslims are in fact the handiwork of Hindutva terrorist outfits like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal, Shri Ram Sena, Hindu Munnani, Hindu Jagran Manch, Yuva [Images] Hindu Vahini, Hindu Janajagruti Samiti and Durga Vahini etc. Members of these outfits have been caught red-handed in many places like Nanded, Tenkasi, Thane and more recently at Kanpur but these terrorist acts/explosions are hushed up. So much so that the government has conceded that the Hindu outfits are not under its scanner.
 
How do you think the community should handle such a situation?
 
There is a high sense of both anger and insecurity in the community in all parts of India. Our message is always that we should not take the law in our hands and that we must use all the legal and constitutional channels to get justice, but I am afraid that this continued victimisation and denial of justice will push many of our youths to the path they are unjustly blamed of today. Perhaps this is the gameplan of the Hindutva organisations in the first place.
 
What about the ban on SIMI for terrorist activities?
 
The Muslim community believes that though these people were extremists, they were not terrorists and did not actually commit terrorist crimes, though it an unproven possibility that a few former members of SIMI may have indulged in acts of terrorism, but for this the whole organisation or the whole Muslim community cannot be blamed just as for crimes of the BJP and Congress, all members of the party cannot be blamed.
 
What you think about the government’s handling of the SIMI issue?
 
The Bharatiya Janata Party government which clamped the first ban on SIMI in September 2001 did so because it found SIMI to be the weakest point in the chain of a weak community. At the time SIMI was a marginalised group which had little sympathy or following in the community. Now it has sympathy in the community because it is perceived as a victim of State terrorism.
 
The United Progressive Alliance government had a good opportunity to get rid of this problem by accepting the Geeta Mittal tribunal’s verdict which threw out the home ministry case as it was based not on facts and evidence but on mere claims. But the government chose to appeal to the Supreme Court which acted fast to continue the ban. The same Supreme Court is sitting on three appeals by SIMI since 2002 against judgments by three earlier tribunals and did not find a few minutes to look into them.
 
With SIMI in the dock, which youth outfit do the Muslim youth look up to?
 
The Students Islamic Organisation is very strong. The Muslim youth can always join this organisation.
 
Will SIO too go the same road as SIMI?
 
What happened with SIMI will never happen with SIO. SIMI never had the supervision and guidance of elders. However, with SIO that is not the case and elders in the community are constantly monitoring and guiding it.
 
SIMI prior to being banned used to act on its own and somewhere things went haywire. SIMI never had the sympathy of the community prior to being banned, but now we do sympathise since we feel the outfit is being (falsely) implicated.
 
The nation’s focus has now shifted to the Indian Mujahideen [Images]. What are your views on this outfit?
 
No one knows what this Indian Mujahideen is. All we have is three emails sent to some media organisations. Curiously the first email was sent from the computer of an American evangelist based in Mumbai who was later allowed to flee the country. Under some bargain he was allowed to come back later perhaps to clear his name and that of the security agencies too that allowed him to flee. Before he fled he had claimed that the police were asking him a bribe in order to close his case. It is anybody’s guess why this American was never arrested and why no charges were levelled against him. Is there is an international dimension to what is happening in India?
 
You say several innocent youth are being targeted by the police in the name of terror. What role are you going to play in securing the release of these persons?
 
We are highlighting cases where we have reason to believe that injustice is being done. We issue statements, we write to the highest officials, we hold dharnas and conferences and we approach the courts. All these are within the laws and liberties granted to Indian citizens.
 
Lastly, your views on Saturday’s Mehrauli blast.
 
I condemn it and my heartfelt condolences to those victims and their families. But I would like to ask the following question. According the Delhi police following the Jamia Nagar incident, all the dreaded masterminds had either been killed or arrested. If this was the case no blast should have taken place. But the fact remains that such attacks continue to take place in the very capital. What happened to the claims by the Delhi police?
 
 http://in.rediff.com/news/2008/sep/29inter1.htm
 

A convert Muslim recalls 72 hours of khaki terror By Mumtaz Alam Falahi, TwoCircles.net

September 29, 2008

A convert Muslim recalls 72 hours of khaki terror

 

 

Submitted by Mudassir Rizwan on 27 September 20085:07am.  Indian Muslim

 

 

 

 

By Mumtaz Alam Falahi, TwoCircles.net,

 

 

New Delhi: It is around 3:30 pm, September 18, the day before the Jamia Nagar encounter. Six people enter the House No. C-81 in Abul Fazal Enclave in Jamia Nagar area and ask three persons in the room their name.

 

All the three were reading books. Among them one is class X student and another class XII student. The third one is a research scholar of Jamia Millia Islamia. The three are flat partners.

 

As soon as the six strangers in civil dress (sleuths of Special Cell of Delhi Police) get confirmed that it is C-81 and among three one is Md. Rashid, they begin flipping books on the shelf.

 

Do you know Abul Bashar, they asked? “I said I don’t know anyone with this name,” recalls the slim man in early 30s.

 

Do you know Abu Bashir? “I don’t know anyone with this name either. Then they said you will know everything soon.

 

They asked his friends about the mobile he uses. His friends said he does not use any mobile.

 

Then they took out his purse from his pocket. There was Jamia Millia Islamia I Card, DTC bus pass, 500 rupees and a phone diary.

 

Then they asked him to come with them. He asked “Where do you want to take me and first tell me who are you? “They were in civil dress so I could not identify whether they were policemen,” recounts Rashid who became Muslim when he was a teenager.

 

Then they brought Abul Bashar to his room. They asked Rashid “Do you know him?” he said no.

 

“Uncle ji, what is the matter? Come with us, you will know soon, they said.

 

“I am not a thief; I have been living here for eight years. I am Jamia student. Ask me whatever you want to know” he told them clearly.

 

Yet, they caught hold of his shoulder and took him down. He said “Uncle ji I am not thief, I am Jamia student. I have no intention to flee. I have not done any crime. You can take me as a normal person, not as a thief.”

 

All the way they continued asking him about Abul Bashar. They said they were taking him for questioning as Abul Bashar has given his name.

 

They took him to a Delhi Police Special Cell office. He was presented before an officer. There were 10-12 persons there. They repeated the last question. And he repeated the answer. Then they said he will not speak by this way. “We are respecting you as you are research scholar and not using other methods. If you do not tell the truth then we will make you tell,” they said.

 

Then began the real drama.

 

They pounced on him. They were 5-6. They were not beating, in fact fists and kicks were raining on him. They beat him to their full satisfaction. Then they asked the same question.

 

“If you are going to continue beating me then I am ready to confess whatever you want. Yes I know Abul Bashar. And tell me where to sign papers. I am ready to sign” Rashid told them.

 

They said he will not budge so easily.

 

Then they took him to another room. There they took off all his clothes. He was standing with no thread on him. And again they started beating brutally.

 

He said “If you want me to make mastermind, then I am ready. But I don’t want to be beaten like this.”

 

The whole drama continued for 2 hours. Then they presented him before an officer. Now they repeated the same question and added one more name. They asked “Do you know Yasin Patel?” “I don’t know him personally,” he said.

 

Patel’s name was on a chit in his phone book. Rashid told them he makes his two ends by doing tuition and coaching. Many people come in his contact. Some parents give him their phone number and ask him to spare time for their children.

 

They also asked him about conversion. He said he converted on December 9, 1995, almost three years after the demolition of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. He is from Allahabad.

 

They asked who made him recite the kalimah. He told them how he came across a book on Hindu society and then developed curiosity to learn about Islam.

 

Then he read a Hindi translation of “Towards Understanding Islam” of Maulana Abul Ala Maudoodi. They asked who gave him this book. He said he bought it from a shop.

 

They hurled abuses on his conversion. They kept him in the custody for full 72 hours. Gradually their hard tone and attitude got softer and on September 22 he was released.

 

Even today he is shocked and terrified thanks to our people in khaki dress.

 

 

Fuse of self-destructive terrorism gets shorter – By M. J. Akbar

September 28, 2008

Indian Muslims are outraged by recent events of bombings and police ecounter of innocent young students. They are in a state of complete denial about both involvement of Muslims in terror bombings and the convoluted highly worked up accounts of police justifying hauling up of Muslims. An overwhelming majority is of the firm opinion that Hindutva forces, determined to snatch the next election from Congress, are systematically organising bomb blasts to polarise the people into voting the extremist Hindutva fascist to come back to power, which they had lost to Congress five years back. Muslims are being made scapegoats.

However, given the most blatant and ham handed handling of the events by Indian National Congress insiders with their dual loyalties, more and more people have gathered courage and are willing to say it publicaly that Muslims are not to be blamed for this orgy of violence and they are more sinned against than sinning.

M. J. Akbar is a liberal writer who wears his Islam rather lightly. However, he is one of few that had now realised that it is time to say a spage, a spade.

Following are his two articles that should open eyes of the world, as to where India is poised to land, if its pandering of fascist forces is not brought to a decisive end.

 

Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai

—————————————-

Fuse of self-destructive terrorism gets shorter
By M.J. Akbar September 28, 2008

Governance is the easy part of being in power. You govern through systems. Systems are protected by institutions. Institutions grind their way forward on hierarchy, oiled by memory or precedence. When there is need for innovation, change is sifted through a time-consuming committee. The end product may not be brilliant, but it comes with minimal-risk insurance: it will not do damage, and might even do some good.

India’s bureaucracy may not be the steel-frame of old. Corruption might have left it a brittle plastic. But it serves. Very often the difference between a good and a bad Minister — the titular head of the bureaucracy — is no more than his or her ability to leave well enough alone. Lalu Prasad Yadav has created a favourable reputation by the ingenious tactic of non-interference. He lets the Railway Board get on with the job and only appears on the scene when it is time to take credit. Give him full marks. More has been destroyed by the deadly combination of ego and incompetence than has been achieved in Government through genius. As the Railway Board has proved, India could be much better off if Ministers left Government on auto-pilot while they concentrated on what they know best: spilling each other’s blood.

The difficult part of power is leadership. Any term of office is divided between phases of placidity and the roils of turbulence. If turbulence is not calmed it develops quickly into a storm. Terrorism has become a raging hurricane. The statistics are well known. There is no point wasting space on them. But there is no leader who can challenge this storm, manage its fallout and restore some balm to the jangled nerves of the nation.

Dr Manmohan Singh and Mrs Sonia Gandhi have, at best, the most banal phrases to offer. We do not need a Prime Minister to tell us that terrorism is a grave threat. That much wisdom is available from any taxi-driver, the familiar source of political perspicacity sought by a visiting journalist anywhere in the world. No one has yet written a speech for Mrs Sonia Gandhi that takes us anywhere near a remedy to this terrible disease.

An answer must begin with a question: when did terrorism begin? Too long ago. India is unique. Every faith has delivered its quota of terrorists. The Nagas who challenged Indian unity were Christians. The sister-regions of the Northeast gave us Hindu terrorists. Sikhs rose in Punjab, and Muslims in Kashmir. The overwhelming majority of Naxalites are Hindus.

And now some young non-Kashmiri Indian Muslims are playing with dynamite. Some three years ago, when President George Bush visited India, Dr Singh proudly told his American mentor that Indian Muslims did not believe in terrorism. As evidence he pointed to the absence of any Indian Muslim name in the rolls of Al Qaeda.

If this was true, then what has happened in the last three years? India has not been ruled by any party that Muslims consider hostile to their interests. Congress has been in power in Delhi. In fact, Indian Muslims believe that if they had not mobilised to an unprecedented degree the Congress would never have got enough seats in the last general elections to cobble together a coalition. Indian Muslims claim a sort of ownership of the UPA regime. Why have Dr Singh and Mrs Sonia Gandhi been unable to prevent a spurt of despair within the community?

The Congress will not even admit this question, so it is difficult to see how it can introspect its way towards an answer. There are two principal reasons for the renewed rise of Muslim despair. First, the community has not got the justice it expected from the Congress. One fact will illustrate. While those found guilty of terrorism in the Mumbai bomb blasts of 1993 have been, rightly, punished through the legal process, those found guilty of crimes against Muslims in the preceding riots have been left untouched. The constables found guilty of state terrorism during the awful riots in Mumbai after the Babri episode in the report of the Justice Srikrishna Commission are wandering around, free. Dr Manmohan Singh, Mrs Sonia Gandhi and Mr Sharad Pawar cannot “find” them.

The second major reason is a sense of helpless hopelessness. The history of economic deprivation long precedes the UPA Government, but its mistake was to believe that it could fudge through its term as its predecessors had fudged through theirs. Dr Singh should never have asked Justice Rajinder Sachar to find out the truth if he wanted to do nothing about it. The truth has become the ultimate betrayal, for the report is a devastating indictment of Congress neglect of its most loyal constituency. Muslim youth watched as Mr Arjun Singh reserved even more jobs for others, and maintained an ultra-secular silence on reservations for Muslims. As I have written before, other communities got jobs under Congress; Muslims got enquiry commissions.

This was fuel for a fire that could so easily mesh into an international conflagration. The memory of riots, particularly in Mumbai and Gujarat, was equally incendiary. Indian Muslims have had apostates and middlemen as leaders. In the vacuum, a number of youth found it easy to drift towards the malevolent attraction of evil. They convinced themselves that virulent hate mail and unpardonable killing of innocents was the means to display a destructive strength. This terrorism, of course, is already hurting Indian Muslims far more than it damages their avowed targets.

The Congress is twisting this damaged psyche further with its cynical response to terrorism. There is a suspicion, bordering on conviction, among Indian Muslims that the Government of Dr Singh and Mrs Sonia Gandhi has offered scapegoats in the form of students of the Jamia Millia University to appease majority anger after the terrorist attacks on Delhi. We do not know the full truth, but there is enough that is murky in the events of 19 September when Delhi police surrounded and killed two students of Jamia at Batla House, while two others apparently escaped. There are questions galore, not least being the manner of the “escape”: if there was only one entrance, how could the two “escape”? Police have shifted their version after every question. The “escape” now is meant to have been through the rooftop. Did anyone see them in the daylit skyline? Nor does anyone believe in the version offered of the death of Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma. It was first put out that he had been shot in the stomach. Then pictures were published of him walking after being shot, with no evidence of a stomach wound. The latest theory is that he died of a heart attack following loss of blood. One TV station claimed that the autopsy report showed he had been shot from the back, hinting at what is known as “friendly fire”. The UPA Government then sought to demonise the community when they covered the faces of suspects with the red, patterned, Arab headdress instead of the black cloth normally used. Who got these headdresses from the market? Home Minister Shivraj Patil, who claimed that he had personally supervised these operations? Was he telling India that these suspects were linked to Arab terrorism?

The questions grow each passing day, each one another fuse for anger.

——————————————————————-

THE SIEGE WITHIN

Is it really Muslims whose credibility is at stake?



    There is nothing more subversive than the alternative narrative. A parallel version of the Godhra incident and riots sabotaged the re-election of the NDA government four years ago. A subaltern variation of the police operation at Batla House, near the Jamia Mil
ia Islamia University on 19 September, is undermining the credibility of the Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi government today. It cannot undermine the credibility of home minister Shivraj Patil because he has none.

 
    The first doubts began to circulate 
even while Patil, wearing a very self-satisfied expression on his face, began to congratulate himself in front of television cameras for delivering bullet-justice to two young men living in a small apartment of this building. He had, he said, personally supervised the encounter, presumably without taking any break whatsoever for fresh laundry.
 
    Ironically, doubt needs the support of evidence. If it is mere partisan belligerence, it will last no longer than a puff of acrid smoke. Some things did not quite add up in the official story. It was, to use a phrase familiar from the Sherlock Holmes oeuvre, the dog that did not bark that raised the first question. You rarely slip on hard concrete; it is generally the banana skin that turns a measured tread into a painful fall. The Rashomon effect, where the same event induces sharply different perspectives, can make for intriguing fiction; in real life, it can rip up communication lines carefully planted by a government trying to sell a fable.
 
    The first question, followed by two photographs, began to dilute the triumphalism of the Delhi police even during the early phase of its self-glorification. The authorities noted, with satisfaction, that two ‘terrorists’ had been killed. They added that two had escaped from the rented urban cage where they lived, which was all they could afford. The deaths were explicable; the escape was not. The building had only one entrance, and hence only one exit. It was 
surrounded by policemen. How could the two escape?
 
    When the murmur became a buzz, the police attempted damage control with a weak suggestion. The two could have escaped through the roof, hopping across rooftops. But it was daytime. The roofline was surely as closely monitored as the roadline. Neighbourhood eyes were tense and alert. Had anyone seen this acrobatic, even melodramatic, form of flight? 
    No.
 
    Two pictures propped up two ends of a growing conviction of foul play. One showed Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma, who lost his life, walking towards something, presumably the car that would take him to hospital, supported by two colleagues (one in a tie, the other in a T-shirt). His gunshot wound was obvious. There was a heavy patch of blood on the upper part of one arm, and only a faint discoloring on the lower front of his bush shirt, near the abdomen. Police had said that Sharma had died from a bullet in the stomach. The picture proved that the bullet had not hit the stomach, and that Sharma was able to come down four flights albeit with help. A bullet in the stomach would have left him a stretch
er case, and caused far more blood loss, particularly through the exit wound.
 
    The official story changed. The selfacclamation had been blared over media, the change was released discreetly, through a plant that said that he died of a heart attack caused by blood loss.

    The questions multiplied: was Sharma hit by what is known in military parlance as ‘friendly fire’?
 
    The police would have been far more comfortable about their theories if some intrepid photographer had not snapped Sharma. The second picture, however, was part of their public relations offensive. It showed three suspects, Zia ur Rahman, Saqib Nishad and Mohammad Sha
keel. As is usual in the case of suspects being put on display, their faces were covered with cloth: the police are gracious enough to disguise the identity of suspects for they cannot be deemed guilty until a court has passed judgment. But there was significant departure from normal practice. These three had been shrouded by Arab-style headdresses (made famous by Yasser Arafat, and now a staple of Arab identity in countless TV images) instead of the anonymous black cloth used by police.
 
    Who had decided that these three suspects should be given an “Arab” identity? Was this a not-so-subliminal message to even the densest in the audience about the nature of the “enemy”, that the headdress was a signature of “Islamic terrorism”? Did this brilliant idea emerge from the home minister, now the handson commander, or did it emerge from somewhere lower down the food chain?
 
    Indian Muslims did not need to open a political dictionary to gauge the meaning of this forced symbolism? They knew that it was an attempt to stigmatize the whole community and link terrorism in India with an international conspiracy, with an implied hint at Osama bin Laden, 
the most famous Arab terrorist.
 
    If the purpose of the UPA government’s officialdom was to intensify fear of Muslims among non-Muslims, then it succeeded. Indian Muslims are used to being fearful ― of riots, police prejudice and arbitrary authority. They have learnt to temper their response with realism. They believed in the government of Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi, if only because they reassured themselves that they had been primarily responsible, through intense electoral mobilization, in adding the crucial 20 odd seats to the Congress that enabled it to become the largest single party in the last general elections. That perception has been shifting slowly, almost reluctantly, because Muslims had no other national political anchor. The Jamia incident has become a wake-up call. The growing perception is that the UPA government has deliberately killed innocent men to satiate the demand for action against terrorism.
 
    Is that the truth? I have no idea, because the truth is privy only to those who control the guns ― on either side of the divide. But this much I do know. In public life, perception becomes the operative truth.

M J AKBAR


 

FINAL REPORT ON THE JAMIA ‘ENCOUNTER’ By Jan Hastakshep, Campaign against Fascist Desings and PUDR

September 27, 2008

FINAL REPORT ON THE JAMIA ‘ENCOUNTER’ By PUDR
 

Released to the Press on 26 September, 2008 at a Press Conference in New Delhi
 
A fact finding team constituted by Janhastakshep, Campaign against Fascist Designs and People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR)  went to look into the issues being raised in context to alleged an encounter at Batla House, Jamia Nagar on September 19, 2008.  Members of the team were, Dr. N.K. Bhattacharya retd. Principal of a Delhi University College, Shahana Bhattacharya of Delhi University, Dr. Ish Misra, Delhi University, Prashant Bhusan, Advocate Supreme Court, Mr. N. D. Pancholi, Advocate, Delhi High Court, and Ms. Shreerekha, a teacher in Jamia Milia Islamia. The team was accompanied by Prof. Mir Imtiaz of Jamia Milia Islamia.
 
Some of the findings of the Fact finding exercise undertaken on September 21, 2008
            
1.                  L-18 Batla house, the scene of the two ‘encounter’ killings of Atif and Sajid, is a four storied building with two flats on each floor and a single stairwell. There is only one entrance to the building. All the other spaces are grilled and cannot be used to get out of the building. The building is abutted on the left and right by two buildings which are only about two floors high. There is a narrow lane to the front and an even narrower lane at the back.
 
2.                  Documentary evidence proves that Atif had submitted his correct details to the police in a tenant verification form duly received by the police on August 21, 2008. The form is a printed form which has been countersigned and bears the seal of the Jamia Nagar police station. The form also has his correct mobile phone number.
 
3.                  The shooting seems to have begun at around 11 AM, Eyewitnesses state that the regular police arrived about fifteen minutes thereafter, and the media arrived five to ten minutes after the police arriving, by which time the area had already been cordoned off. 
 
4.                  The police did not show anyone the faces of the victims of the ‘encounter’ killings. Neither have they allowed the media access to the scene of the crime which has been sealed. By the time the media arrived, Mohan Chand Sharma had apparently already been carried down four floors of stairs with wounds, which eventually proved fatal. There seems to be a photograph of a conscious M.C.Sharma being carried out of the building by two of his aides showing some bleeding. People who saw him a few meters ahead, however, state that he was bleeding profusely when he was being carried past the Khaliullah Masjid in the vicinity.
 
5.                  Zeeshan who also shared the flat was writing the IIPM entrance test at the time of the alleged encounter and was arrested later in the night of 19 September from the Head Lines today studios at Jhandelwalan, soon after he had given an interview at the television studio which was partially aired. As he was coming out of the television channel’s office he was arrested by the police. He too is being called a terrorist. 
 
Questions Regarding the Police version
 
1.                  How many masterminds are there? A succession of organizations such as the HUJI, SIMI and the IM have already been named by different State police as the organizations responsible for the blasts that have taken place in Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Delhi and the bomb scare in Surat. Atif suddenly becomes the new mastermind of all the blasts after a succession of other masterminds such as Abu Bashir, Tauqeer, etc. His name was never mentioned earlier, not even a few days ago when the sketches of the Delhi Bombers were released.
 
2.                  When did the police get to know that they were terrorists? If they knew before they entered, why did they not seal the exit to the building and ask the alleged terrorists to surrender without going in?
 
3.                  If the Special Cell knew that they were terrorists why was M.C.Sharma not wearing a bullet proof vest if the Special Cell was going to arrest/apprehend dreaded terrorists?
 
4.                  If the Special cell did not know that they were terrorists before they entered, how did they claim soon thereafter that these were the terrorists and mastermind behind the blasts without even the opportunity of an interrogation of the person arrested and a thorough investigation of the evidence from the scene of the alleged encounter? 
 
5.                  Could two persons have escaped, considering there are no escape routes save one which was the entrance from which the STF entered heavily armed?
 
6.                  If they were truly the terrorists behind the bombings they would surely not have given their correct personal details in a tenant verification form to the police on the 21st of August, 2008, just after the Ahmedabad Blasts and before the Delhi Blasts.
 
7.                  The Special Cell now claims that the verification form is forged, despite the fact that it is countersigned and bears the seal of the Jamia Nagar Police Station. However these documents were handed over to the media by the caretaker of the apartment within two hours of the alleged encounters and hence he did not have enough time to have carried out such a forgery.
 
8.                  As per news reports the police has so far not carried out a Test Identification Parade by eyewitnesses who claim to have seen those responsible for the Delhi bomb blasts? Was a TIP done before the burial of the two boys who were shot dead? Has the police tried to match the sketches of the accused made at the time with those being arrested? What are the results of such efforts if they have been made? 
 
9.                  In view of the continuing speculation and controversies surrounding the ‘encounter’ and a version of the postmortem reports being discussed by the press, why have the post-mortem reports of the two youths and the policeman who were killed in the house not been made available to their families and to the public? 
 
10.              Has an FIR been lodged or investigation launched into the incident of the ‘encounter’ itself? * 
*This is what the law requires.  NHRC guidelines on  encounter killings clearly state “That when information is received that death was caused in an encounter as a result of firing by the police, prima facie the ingredients of culpable homicide under section 299 of the IPC are satisfied. That is sufficient to suspect that an offence of culpable homicide has been committed.”
 
11.              Since, according to the press statement issued by Holy Family Hospital on September 19, 2008, X rays of the chest and abdomen of M.C.Sharma had “not revealed any foreign bodies”, what has happened to the bullets fired on him? have they been collected from the scene and sent for forensic analysis? 
 
Preliminary Conclusions
 
1.                  The version of the police that they had learnt that these youths were behind the Delhi Blasts when they went in to arrest them is clearly false since, in that case, Inspector Sharma, and his team who were experienced policemen from the Special Cell and had in fact been involved in several lethal encounters in the past would not have entered the premises at all and certainly not without bullet proof vests.
 
2.                  The police gave the version of these youths being the terrorists behind the Delhi, Ahmedabad and Jaipur blasts and of Atif being the mastermind to the media soon after the alleged encounter. Till this point the police had not had the time to interrogate Saif, who had been arrested, or to thoroughly investigate the laptops recovered from the scene of the incident etc. and hence had no actionable information on the basis of which to make such claims. Therefore the police version that they were the terrorists behind the blasts with Atif as the mastermind clearly seems to be a story concocted by the Special Cell before they went to pick up these people.
 
3.                  The story of 2 people escaping from the building is an utter lie.
 
4.                  The subsequent picking up of Zia ur Rahman, the caretaker’s son, and of Shakeel and others on the pretext that they were also involved in this conspiracy is highly dubious and smacks of vindictiveness against individuals who came out with statements and evidence that contradicted the police version.
 
5.                  The claim of the police that the tenant verification form, handed over to the media by the caretaker, Rahman, only a couple of hours after the incident, is forged, is not at all credible. There appears no reason for Rahman to have forged such a form and kept it with him in advance, and there was certainly no time for him to have forged the papers and handed them to the media soon after the incident.
 
6.                  Saquib Nisar, who the police claim provided logistical support for the serial blasts in Ahmedabad and the bomb scare in Surat, was taking an MBA examination from July 23 to July 28, 2008. Copies of his admit card and exam sheets signed by the examiners are available.
 
7.                  None of the accused who are alive and arrested have legal representation or counsel. Moreover the police have been releasing information supposedly procured from them during interrogation to the media. This further adversely affects their chances of justice. 
 
Recommendations
 
1.                  It is imperative that an independent, time bound comprehensive probe has to be carried out by a sitting Judge of the Supreme Court of India into this incident and the claims of the police, to answer these questions. In any case, the NHRC guidelines on encounter killings require such an investigation.
 
2.                  The continuing random arrests and harassment of residents of Jamia Nagar and students of Jamia University since the time of the Delhi blasts and particularly after the alleged encounter must stop immediately.
 
3.                  The competition among various police agencies to claim credit for arresting dreaded terrorists and masterminds is resulting in the targeting of innocent Muslim youth. This must stop immediately. It appears that after making SIMI the scapegoat, the police has now shifted focus to Azamgarh which is being dubbed the nursery of terrorism. This targeting and victimisation of young Muslim boys from Azamgarh or those who may have been members of SIMI in the past, as terrorists involved in the blasts, has led to an enormous sense of insecurity, fear and resentment in the Muslim community of the country in general and young Muslim boys from Azamgarh or those who may have been members of SIMI, in particular.
 
4.                  It is very unfortunate and disquieting that significant sections of the mainstream media, particularly the electronic media, has been uncritically amplifying the successive absurd stories and concoctions of the police, built only on supposed confessions made before the Police. This has not only defamed a large number of apparently innocent people but is also encouraging rapid communalisation and polarisation of people in the country.
 
 
SIGNED
Dr. NK Bhattacharya
JAN HASTAKSHEP                           PUDR
Issued by N. Pancholi azadpancholi@yahoo.com – 26 September 2008

Memorandum Submitted to Shri Manmohan Singh, Honb’le Prime Minister of India By COORDINATION COMMITTEE OF INDIAN MUSLIMS

September 27, 2008

 

COORDINATION COMMITTEE OF INDIAN MUSLIMS
Dawat Nagar, Abul Fazal Enclave, Jamia Nagar, New Delhi 110 025
 
Memorandum
 
Submitted to Shri Manmohan Singh
Honb’le Prime Minister of India
 
A rally of prominent citizens of Delhi was organized today under the auspices of the Coordination Committee of Indian Muslims today, Friday, September 26, 2008 at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi.  The rally was attended by leaders of major Muslim organizations, leftist and secular leaders, students, youths, social activists, intellectuals and concerned citizens. They condemned all disruptive and terrorist acts committed by anyone as well as the incidents of State brutality. The rally demanded the following:
 
1)            The Government of India should take note of the pertinent questions raised by several citizens’ inquiry teams about the questionable nature of the 19 September 2008 “encounter” at Batla House, Jamia Nagar. A high level judicial time-bound enquiry should be conducted into the whole incident to find out the truth and its findings must be made public.

2)            Without proper inquiry and tangible evidence, no person or organization should be blamed for terrorist acts.

3)            All innocent persons picked up by the police in Delhi, Azamgarh, Mumbai and other places should be immediately released. No one should be arrested without substantial grounds which should be made public.

4)            The heavy police deployment in Okhla since 19 September 2008 should be withdrawn forthwith in order to remove uncertainty, sense of insecurity prevailing in the area.

5)            Harassment of common people in Delhi should be stopped. Landlords should not be harassed and coerced into evicting their tenants.

6)            Police should desist from torture and third degree methods and should respect the guidelines of the Supreme Court in this regard.

7)            Even minors are being picked up by the Police. They should be immediately released.

8)            Some of the arrested students have clear evidence available of their innocence. They should be immediately released.

9)            In conducting raids and detaining people for questioning, the police should take the residents associations and leading personalities of the area into confidence. 

10)        The media must be made to behave in a responsible, unbiased and impartial manner. The rally condemns the blatant anti-Muslim bias exhibited by a section of the media which rushes to conclusions, blows up and in effect blames the whole Muslim community and entire regions of committing/abetting terrorism.

11)        The Government should respect the verdict of the Justice Geeta Mittal Tribunal  and lift the ban on the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). It should note that dozens of former SIMI activists have been acquitted by courts across the country.
 
 
Mujtaba Farooq, Convenor, Coordination Committee & Secretary, Jamaat-e Islami Hind
Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan, President, All India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat
Ml. Abdul Hameed Nomani, Acting General Secretary, Jamiat Ulama-e Hind
Ml. Abdul Wahab Khilji, Asstt General Secretary, All India Milli Council
Ml. Mahmoodul Hasan, President, Jamiat Ahl-e Hadees, Delhi Pradesh
Dr Taslim Rahmani, President, Muslim Political Council
Ml. Zeeshan Hidayati, Chairman, Majlis-e Fikr-o Amal
Irfanullah Khan, Chairman Jamia Nagar Coordination Committee
Ml. Jalal Haidar Naqvi, Secretary, Majlis-e Ulama-e Islam

26 September 2008
 
 
 
 

Thoughts of a sleepless media-watcher By Mrinal Pande – Hindustan Times

September 25, 2008

Mrinal Pande , Hindustan Times
September 24, 2008
     
 

Last week, nearly every newspaper carried the photograph of a burqa-clad mother rushing home with her son through the turbulent lanes of Zakir Nagar. She looked small next to her gangly son, who was taller by a head. With his school tie awry and his shirt half hanging out of his school trousers, the boy could be anyone’s teenage son — yours or mine.

He looked self-conscious and embarrassed as any teenager would be, entering an alley full of gun-toting policemen and being escorted home firmly by a worried mother. When I saw the two, I couldn’t help but start crying. All around them, TV anchors and studio chat show participants were hissing dire warnings about militant youngsters in Muslim-dominant areas of Delhi, where “God knows how many more young terrorists could be hiding in tiny flats”.

Another hapless mother of a young man held captive by the police had appeared on the TV just the other day. She had  pleaded her son’s innocence, saying that at least he should be allowed to stand trial. If after that, the courts found him guilty of anti-national activities, she wouldn’t mind him being sentenced to death. Then she had broken down, and hastily lowered her veil over her brimming eyes.

Mothers, I thought to myself, will never learn. Even after centuries of experience, they will go on pleading for justice, sanity and mercy for their young, even in the most insane times. They continue to believe that if they escort their sons home from school and serve them a nice hot meal, they can protect them from the beast that lies in wait outside. They think by repeatedly appealing to people’s consciences, they can get mobs to back off and make the law of the land prevail.

All they can think of, as they fly through disturbed areas looking for their children, is that peace should return somehow, that their children should have the chance to grow into adults, get married and have families. And all they have had by way of weapons is love and hope.

The fathers, in contrast, have lost hope. They sit huddled over tables in street corners, in tea shops, looking into space or growling at their women and shushing them, as men do when they feel powerless. They are simultaneously fascinated and scared by this phenomenon of home-grown terrorism and the trail of blood that stretches from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. But, being men, they are ashamed to cry, or plead. They can only get violently angry and seek revenge.

At this hour, if one says that there is a certain similarity in the bewildered tear-stained faces of mothers with veiled faces and those of the dead police inspector’s mother, wife and daughter, there are many who will roar in disagreement. Every- one from the media to political parties is busy building embankments and dams to control and divert the natural flow of justice to suit their thinking.

Police logic enters the television or newspaper debates faster than one can drain it. Even the educated can be heard saying that the needs of national security have made it imperative that we accept phone tapping, body searches, and agree to bring back Pota. If you don’t agree you must go home straight after work and go to bed early to escape the 11 o’clock bulletins and quick re-caps.

Concerned relatives call from abroad to ask how we in India are coping, and what we think of the Pakistanis “being hoisted by their own Talibani petard”. As though one can label the dead and the terrified as Hindustanis or Pakistanis.

Obviously, those living in Nato countries feel differently about things. The year 2008, ruled by that great teacher with a dour face and grey hair, Saturn, has taught me a harsh but precious lesson: I am now more aware of the fragility of human relationships and of what being a minority youth can mean even in a society that considers itself secular and tolerant.

My parents used to tell us that no one believed till 1946 that India could be split up. But the wild beast roared a year later and Partition followed. There are still many dormant faultlines along which nations like ours stand. And during periods of political transition and economic upheavals, if we allow ourselves to be swept away by generalisations and the ‘revenge motive’, the manipulators will create opportunities for the wild beast to rise once again.

Who killed Police Officer Sharma? By Prathiba Sundaram

September 24, 2008

 

2008/9/22 Prathiba Sundaram <prathibasam@yahoo.com>

 

Who killed Police Officer Sharma?

 

Who killed Police Officer? When he smashed the front door of the suspected terrorists’ room, immediately the terrorists shot and killed the police man! Police story is that!!

 

But Sharma has no wounds at front side of his body, but back side. It is clear that somebody from back side shot him and killed.

 

Who was behind him? Obviously there was no one but Police men. Due to some reasons (an enquiry will bring the truth) they knowingly or mistakenly killed their leading policeman.

 

Now they have no other choice except to charge the students who are residing in the room. If the police arrested the students, the students will expose the truth. Then the police shoot and killed the innocent students. Then they kept a AK47 and Pistols and proclaimed to media that they killed very hardcore terrorists

 

The story ended, but the loopholes bring the truth. A clear photo shows that the encounter specialist Sharma has no wounds on body except his backside.

 

Home Minister Shivraj Patil, decline to comment on police encounter, when press asked about the incident, on the same day. It means the encounter story was a fiction., created by Shivraj Patil or MK Narayanan or the police officers who accidentally killed Sharma. No one is beyond doubt.

 

Prime Minister should oust Shivraj Patil and MK Narayanan, security advisor, from their posts and an enquiry is needed by a sitting Supreme Court Judge.

 

Say the truth dear countrymen. Say the truth dear media men. Try to bring the truth out. And one day it will come out.

(Prathiba Sundaram is a journalist based in Mumbai.)