Stop Making Muslim Youth Pawns of the Cynical Game Between Competing Investigative Agencies
The recent case of Naqee Ahmad from Darbhanga, Bihar, is a reminder of how Muslim youth are becoming pawns in the cynical and cruel game played by competing anti-terror agencies. This young man, till recently an informer helping the Delhi Police Special Cell with their investigations in blast cases, turned overnight into one of the main accused by the Maharashtra ATS in the 13/7 Mumbai blast case.
As facts unravelled, it was revealed that the two investigative agencies had been having a tug-of-war over Naqee for some weeks. A letter by Naqee’s uncle revealed that the Maharashtra ATS had confined Naqee’s brothers under house arrest in their own factory in Mumbai, on the pretext of ‘protection’ from the Delhi police!
After the Maharashtra ATS announced that it had ‘cracked’ the case and arrested Naqee, the Delhi Police Special Cell and Home Ministry floundered for a while. But instead of defending their informer, they chose to ‘congratulate’ the ATS for solving the case. The Delhi Police and Home Ministry obviously felt that it was better to maintain mutual solidarity and sacrifice the hapless informer rather than risk exposing the tactics of false framing that all investigative agencies, after all, employ!
As the credibility of the anti-terror investigations came under a cloud, the ATS chief hastened to assure that there was no ‘rivalry’ between the agencies. However, he ‘emphatically’ stated that competition between investigative agencies was not only natural but in fact desirable – “Tell me which police officer does not want to detect this kind of blast case.” Unfortunately, what remains unacknowledged is that in the cynical competition to ‘crack’ blast cases and win medals, innocent Muslim youth end up being framed. The framing of Naqee came to light because of the tussle between two agencies over him. Now, when the Home Ministry assures better ‘cooperation’ and ‘sharing of information’ between agencies in future, does it mean that agencies must take care to frame individuals who are not already ear-marked by other agencies?
In the race for ‘gallantry’ medals, truth and justice are victims. In 2008, the CBI told a court how the Special Cell of Delhi Police had framed Md. Qamar and Irshad Ali as terrorists, whereas they were proven to be police informers. The officer responsible for the frame-up was a recipient of the President’s gallantry award. On Republic Day this year, another police officer, Ankit Garg, responsible for heinous custodial sexual violence on an adivasi woman in Chhattisgarh (a medical examination ordered by the Supreme Court found stones shoved inside her private parts) received a gallantry award.
Recently, the Supreme Court has ordered a probe into the long series of encounters which took place between 2002 and 2006 in Gujarat. The apex Court observed that whenever a fake encounter is alleged, the Gujarat Government “initially stoutly denies it” but admits it “when the matter is scratched even slightly” and the facts come to light. Surely this is an observation that holds true beyond Gujarat. Virtually every terror case or encounter anywhere in the country, which has actually been subjected to a searching and impartial probe, has proven to be ‘fake.’
In fact, the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court and NHRC stipulate that every encounter must be presumed a murder till proven otherwise. Yet, in most cases, there is no probe. In the infamous Batla House case, the Central Government has resolutely resisted any impartial probe. Only when the Congress cynically eyes votes in Azamgarh and UP do its leaders term Batla House to be a fake encounter!
After Azamgarh, investigative agencies are now painting upper Bihar as the next site for witch-hunt of Muslim youth. Meanwhile, Raj Thackeray and his ilk have found an ideal opportunity to combine their campaign of regional chauvinism with their communal fascism. In the wake of Naqee’s arrest, Raj Thackeray declared that migrants were responsible for terror in Mumbai, and ridding the city of migrants was the way to free it of terror attacks.
It is urgent that we challenge and resist the politics of false framing and fake encounters which are claiming innocent Muslim youth as its fodder. Investigative officers responsible for such frame-ups and fake encounters must be severely
punished. Shameful and heinous crimes cannot be covered up with ‘gallantry’ medals, without an outcry from democratic forces in society.