Asghar Ali Engineer

(Secular Perspective September 16-30, 2008)

The terrorists struck again and this time in Delhi at the time and place of their choosing on 13th September in the evening when maximum number of people go out shopping. As usual before the investigations began police officer concluded it is SIMI pattern and hence SIMI is involved. And not only that they also knew the Mumbai based Tauqir the tech-savy bomber who is the mastermind and is at large is behind it.

After every bomb explosion and killing of tens of innocent people our police claims they have got at the mastermind and again until next explosion takes place they pat themselves that all masterminds have been rounded up. They are then equipped with their confessional statements and names of all those involved and details of conspiracy and people of India heave a sigh of relief that now no one will rain death on them.

And they are again here and the police come out with names of other masterminds as if out of nothing and search begins for the mastermind again and again valuable lives will be lost. The real culprits are still at large and let alone any mastermind even other lesser beings involved in the whole operation have not been arrested. Those arrested are mostly innocent people whom police has tortured and brutally and obtained confession written by police themselves.

There are two reasons for this gross failure on the part of the police. Firstly they target youth from one community and do not think on other lines at all despite many obvious indicators and despite repeated attempts to draw their attention to these other indications by human rights activists and others. Secondly, they are under pressure from ruling political bosses to solve these cases and from opposition politicians to target one community.

Ability of SIMI to organize these bombings without being detected has been blown out of all proportions. The Government was shocked out of its senses when the tribunal judge (of Delhi High Court) refused to extend the ban for lack of any concrete evidence. It rushed to the Supreme Court to get the ban extended and got stay until October. In Supreme Court too it would be far from easy to get the ban extended. There is indeed nothing concrete on record to convince the highest court to agree to continue ban on SIMI.

The UPA Government is being misled by the intelligence agencies and also it is afraid of BJP that if SIMI is not banned it will launch high pitch propaganda and it will loose Hindu votes. Unfortunately our politics is based entirely on caste and communal considerations and all parties flagrantly violate all constitutional principles. The UPA Government which professes to be secular, in fact bases all its policy decisions on how BJP will react to them.

One aggressive statement from BJP and UPA Government readily changes its affidavits in the highest court or readily changes its policy directions. It has lost political courage to take on communal forces and fight them politically. For BJP the universal solution for tackling terror is enactment of POTA so that more innocent Muslim youth could be arrested and tortured. It evades reply when confronted with question that so many terror attacks including on Parliament took place when it was in power and POTA was very much in force.

The UPA Government has no courage to get its police honestly and objectively investigate the terror attacks so as to lay hands on actual culprits. The SIMI office bearer denies its involvement in violent activity. Shahid Badar, the organization’s president when it was banned first in 2001, stated on oath before the tribunal including the high court judge Geeta Mittal (who refused to extend the ban) that “SIMI has ceased to exist after the first ban.” “SIMI does not endure any illegal or violent activities and has issued strong press statements condemning illegal and violent activities”,

SIMI even otherwise was an insignificant organization before it was banned. It being an extremist student organization it was disowned by Jamat-e-Islami whose front organization it was. Thus it lost support of the Jamat who had set it up. It was left to fend for itself. There is no doubt it had militant views and talked completely out of senses without understanding India’s social, political and religious reality. It had no support among Muslim masses or even intellectuals. It was banned after Kanpur riots in which SIMI had played a role by putting up provocative posters with a caption Mahmood Ghaznavi India is waiting for you. It was then immediately banned. All responsible Muslim leaders and intellectuals had condemned SIMI for putting up such provocative posters.

Thereafter there was not much evidence of SIMI being involved in violent activities and hence even Mulayamsingh Yadav had withdrawn cases in U.P. when he was Chief Minister. We suddenly hear of SIMI after these bomb blasts began. By now the police have arrested all its top leaders and when Safdar Nagori and others were arrested from M.P. the police had claimed the entire top leadership has been arrested and now all terror attack cases including Mumbai train blasts will be solved. Nothing of the kind happened and Safdar Nagori and others are in police custody and no case has been solved as claimed by the police.

Then Ahmedabad and Surat incidents happened and several people were killed in Ahmedabad and not a single bomb exploded in Surat. It is really mystery as to who planted these bombs more than 20 in number and they were found everywhere on trees, on advertising boards on bridges and so on. How so many bombs could be planted without anyone noticing is a question remains unanswered until today.

It is obvious that someone is playing behind its hand behind the scene and police is unable to reach at the real culprit. After every bomb blast meeting of top police and intelligence officers from states and centre is held and declaration is made that hence forward all agencies will coordinate and prevent any further incident. Again it happens and intelligence officers are caught napping. Why it is happening again and again? How long people of India will lay down their lives just because police and intelligence agencies are not ready to do hard work and are not ready to get rid of their prejudices and biases.

The police have started playing the same game after Delhi blast i.e. arresting innocent Muslims under suspicion. One Abdur Rashid has been arrested who runs Universal Knowledge Trust and is working for spreading educational awareness among Muslims and his social work is well known. The Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat has strongly protested against his arrest. Again one does not know how many innocent Muslim youth will face police wrath.

I was member of jury in public hearing in Hyderabad held from 22-24 August and we heard several cases of such victimization of innocent Muslims. After arresting all these victims we heard in Hyderabad police had claimed that it has solved the case and masterminds have been arrested and they had to be released by the court as no evidence except self confession (naturally obtained through torture). That is why the Sangh Parivar wants to enact POTA so that confession will become admissible as evidence and they can show that they have solved the cases.

Since POTA continued to be applied on those who were arrested before it was withdrawn many still continue to be in jail simply on the basis of their confession. Some 100 persons were arrested after Godhra train incident most of them poor and voiceless are still in jail without any sign of trial. In between POTA review committee even opined that there is no evidence against those arrested under POTA but Modi Government was not prepared to release them. They are not being tried even after six years precisely because there is no other evidence against them. It is anybody’s guess how long they will continue to languish in jail.

The emails being sent moments before explosion clearly show that some very intelligent people are involved using the name of Indian Mujahidin who are not only expert in hacking others e-mail addresses but also have grip over Islamic history on one hand, and Muslim situation in India, on the other. It is not a work of any novice. Their English also seem to be flawless. And mostly those arrested under the label of SIMI so far are definitely of this caliber. This itself gives lie to police claims that they have arrested top leadership and masterminds.

One cannot expect anything from the police in BJP ruled states as it is part of BJP politics to target Muslim youth as it feeds to its Hindu vote bank. But will the UPA at the Centre and the Congress Governments in states will reflect on these hard facts and try to save the country? There is no hope as of now. As pointed out above the Congress has lost will to confront communal forces and it cannot afford to displease them. It is they who set the agenda.

The civil society is fragmented and is not strong enough to put pressure on Government to rethink its approach towards investigation of bomb blast cases. And supposing SIMI is involved as claimed by police is it not again police failure that it could not keep watch on the activities of this organization after it was banned? After all it is a small organization and Indian police is a mighty force compared to that organization. It could have easily infiltrated SIMI with its informers to paralyze its functioning.

Also to organize such blasts SIMI needs vast financial resources. Where the money is coming from? If it is coming from other country (or countries) intelligence sources have completely failed to detect illegal transfer of money. This also shows gross failure of our intelligence forces in performing their duties and protecting lives of innocent people of India. They need to be sacked for their gross inefficiency.

I think some powerful sources and organizations are behind all these terrorist activities and it requires great ingeniousness, political will and unbiased approach to solve this mystery. Otherwise people of India will continue to suffer for long time to come and the enemies of India and the terrorists will have the last laugh. The police investigation must change its direction, if they want to succeed in curbing terror.

Also, ultimate solution lies in winning over hearts and minds of the community rather than alienating it through arbitrary arrests and harassment of youth. Cooperation of the community will greatly reduce the risk of terrorism as ably argued by Mr. Julio Rebeiro, the former Director General of Police, in his article in Times of India on 16/9/08. Will the ATS and Government authorities listen?


Centre for Study of Society and Secularism

Mumbai: – 400 055.

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