Saturday, 24 May 2014

'I Have Lost 11 Years of My Life,' Says Man Acquitted in Akshardham Terror Attack Case // SC slams Gujarat Police probe

NB: Since PM-designate Narendra Modi takes credit for all good things that took place in Gujarat, surely he and his ex-Minister of State for Home Mr Amit Shah must also be responsible for the bad things? Such as this behaviour of the Gujarat police, which has anguished the Supreme Court? Either they are responsible for a grave miscarriage of justice or they were incompetent. Today we face the prospect of India's criminal justice system - already in a state of endemic crisis - being supervised by leaders such as Modi and Shah, who presided over these events. It is only judges such as the ones on this bench, and upright IAS  and IPS officers, combined with an alert citizenry, who can prevent the further degeneration of Indian justice. Let us hope the judges and officials remember that they are servants not of this or that government, but of the Indian Constitution - DS

SC acquits Akshardham terror strike convicts, slams Gujarat Police probe
Acquitting all the six convicts, a bench of Justice A.K.Patnaik and Justice V. Gopala Gowda in their judgment said: "We intend to express our anguish about the incompetence with which the investigating agencies conducted the investigation of the case of such a grievous nature, involving the integrity and security of the nation... Instead of booking the real culprits responsible for taking so many precious lives, police caught innocent people and got imposed the grievous charges against them which resulted in their conviction and subsequent sentencing," Justice Gowda said speaking for the bench. Pulling up the Gujarat Police, the court said that "the courts below had ignored these basic legal principles while admitting the treatment of witnesses while weighing the case against the accused persons" as it set aside the conviction and sentencing of six accused by the special court and the same being upheld by the high court.

Mohammad Saleem, 45, has spent the last 11 years of his life being labelled a 'terrorist' by some officials of the Gujarat police, who allegedly falsely accused him of being involved in the 2002 Akshardham terror attack case. On May 16 this year, the Supreme Court acquitted all the six accused in the case - three of them had earlier been sentenced to death -- and slammed the Gujarat police for its shoddy investigation. 

Saleem, a tailor, had just returned from Saudi Arabia in August 2003, when sleuths from the Ahmedabad Crime Branch picked him up, alleging he had furnished 'fake' details in his passport application. He was then allegedly asked to choose which terror case he would be implicated in. "I was told to choose between Godhra (train burning case), Haren Pandya (murder) case or the Akshardham case. I pleaded to them that I had been out of India for 13 years, why should I own up to something that I was not involved in.'' he recounted.

In 2006, a POTA court sentenced Saleem to life imprisonment. Three other accused -- Mufti Abdul Qayuum, Adam Ajmeri and Chand Khan -- were awarded the death sentence. The other two accused, Abdul Miyan Qadri and Atlaf Hussain, were awarded a ten-year jail term amd five-year jail term respectively 

While his mother fell ill right after his arrest, his 15-year-old son had to drop out from the English medium school he was studying in and join a municipal school. "My children got punished for no fault of theirs,'' rues Saleem. Saleem's brother Irfan was on the verge of completing his graduation. With the family's only breadwinner behind bars, he was forced to give up his studies and drive an auto-rickshaw to earn a living. "I have spent most of my life in courtrooms, police stations and jail,'' lamented Irfan.

The lawyers of the acquitted men are now contemplating moving court against the policemen involved in the case, including D G Vanzara, the then chief of the Crime Branch. Vanzara has been behind bars for over seven years for his alleged involvement in a spate of encounter killings. But all Saleem and his family members want today is to get their lives -- derailed after fighting false charges and injustice for years -- back on track.

See also:
Subhash Gatade - Thinking About Adam Ajmeris' in Saffron Times
A serving Indian police officer writes about encounter killings
Bharat Bhushan - The Vanzara bomb has a long fuse for Modi
Naroda Patiya verdict: Aides face the music, Modi remains ‘righteous’: by Kingshuk Nag
CBI Summons IB Special Director Rajinder Kumar In Ishrat Jahan Encounter Case // CBI seeks to declare Gujarat cop a proclaimed offender
Team Modi and free speech: Republishing "9 Myth Busters Of Gujarat 2002 Riots"
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell - Manoj Mitta on how the SIT let off Modi / Interview: ‘Crucial Evidence Has Fallen Through The Cracks