2005 Delhi blast case & acquittals: Why the Special Cell deserves to be pulled up for 'errors'
In the long chain of infamous practices of framing innocent young Muslim men in trumped up charges of terrorism got another instance added on 16 February. A Delhi sessions court acquitted three men accused of causing serial blasts in Delhi in 2005 that killed 67 people and injured 200.
Mohammed Rafiq Shah and Mohammed Hussain Fazili were acquitted of all charges by the sessions judge Reetesh Singh after over 11 years of incarceration while the third accused, Tariq Ahmad Dar, was found guilty in another case. Dar was sentenced to 10 years, but since he has already served more than 11 years, he too is likely to be freed.
The operation against these accused was carried out in typical Special Cell style as they were picked up from Kashmir on flimsy grounds of suspect mobile call records.
Rafiq Shah, an MA student at Kashmir University, charged with planting a bomb in a DTC bus, had attended his classes on the day of the blasts in Delhi. The attendance register, as well as several witnesses appearing for the accused, according to the court, supported this fact. He was accused of using his mobile phone to plan and execute the attacks.
However, the court concluded that there was no evidence that he actually used the mobile number mentioned by the police and the records from the telecom service provider could not prove the information either.
The judge said that “the prosecution has been unable to prove that it was he who had placed a bomb in the DTC bus. Thus, in any event, he deserves to be acquitted”.
Hussain Fazili was also framed in a similar manner without any due process. In his case too, his mobile number, which the police claimed was used in plotting the blasts, was the only evidence against him.
The court found several discrepancies in the police account as the time and duration of call records and transcripts did not match the police's version. Hussain Fazili only used his phone twice on the day he allegedly called other conspirators and that too only to dial the number 123 to check his phone balance.
The judgement clearly pointed out that “the solitary piece of evidence cannot lead to any inference that he (Fazili) was part of the conspiracy which was behind the blasts”.
There were similar shoddy inconsistencies in the case against the third accused Tariq Dar. He was alleged to be the mastermind who received and distributed funds to terrorists. The police relied once again on mobile phone call intercepts and financial records, accusing him of large-scale hawala transactions.
While convicting him for illegal financial dealings the judge maintained that there was “nothing to show that this (hawala) fund had been received for the purposes of the terrorist acts”.
The judge also rejected the accusation that these three people were known to each other and planned the attacks together – “The prosecution has not been able to prove any link between Fazili and Shah on the one hand and Dar on the other. The contents of these (telephonic) conversations, therefore, fall short in enabling this court to come to any definite conclusion that Dar was part of the conspiracy behind theses blasts,” the judge said.
Delivering the verdict, he unequivocally said that “there was no link to establish that the accused were part of any conspiracy related to the blast(s)” and that the prosecution has “miserably failed” to prove its case.
A long list of events
Such a frame up of innocent people by the Delhi Police Special Cell in terrorism-related cases is by no means an isolated incident which can be dismissed as a lapse.
In fact, if we look at the recent history of the Special Cell, a clear pattern of framing unsuspecting youths emerges, particularly if one looks at the glaring similarities in shoddy investigation and submission of evidence.
Some of the lucky ones get acquitted after spending on average 10 to 12 of the best years of their lives behind the bars while scores of others languish in jails caught in a complex web of legal quagmires.
Jamia Teacher’s Solidarity Association (JTSA) in their report Framed, Damned, Acquitted: Dossiers of a Very Special Cell documents as many as 24 case studies in which a number of innocent young men framed in terror cases by the Special Cell were acquitted by the court after the cases against them collapsed.
Such large-scale willful manipulation of justice becomes possible only because of assured impunity of the police. The police must be held accountable and legally liable for manufacturing evidence and implicating innocent people.
If India has any pretension of becoming a leading economy of the world, then it must also enact a fair and modern legal system as practiced in many leading democracies across the world. To be counted as a civilised society, it must evolve a mechanism for adequately compensating the acquitted innocent people whose lives and reputations are destroyed by the callousness of the security agencies.
Edited by Jhinuk Sen