New Delhi, Jan 24 (IANS) Indian Kashmiri model Tariq Dar walked out of the high security Tihar Jail here a free man Wednesday evening after the police dropped the terrorism charge that had forced him to spend 90 harrowing days in custody.
'It feels good to be free. I have all along been insisting the charges against me were false and now I have been vindicated,' Dar declared as he came out of prison to an emotional reunion with his family and friends.
Dar was arrested in Bangladesh Sept 16 while on a modeling assignment on suspicion of being an agent of India's spy agency Research and Analysis Wing. The Dhaka Police said they had also found some forged travel documents on him.
Deported on Oct 25 on the request of the Indian external affairs ministry, Delhi Police arrested Dar on his arrival here and charged him with links to the Lashkar-e-Taiba terror outfit. On Wednesday, the last day of his 90-dday remand, the police sheepishly conceded the charge could not stick – drawing the ire of Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Seema Maini.
'I cannot retrain myself from observing that there is a very sorry state of affairs in the Delhi Police,' Maini thundered.
'It's astonishing that without an iota of evidence against him, Dar was kept in custody for 90 long days, which could be a lifetime for any common citizen. Police must learn the meaning of individual freedom as enshrined in the constitution,' she maintained.
TV news channel CNN-IBN had run a campaign to secure his release.
While the police said that Dar's name had figured during the interrogation of Mohammad Issa, a suspect in the 2005 New Delhi blasts who named Dar as his facilitator in India, a CNN-IBN expose revealed the police had picked up the wrong man.
On Wednesday, the police admitted in court that this was indeed so and that they had not been able to gather any incriminating evidence against him.
Prior to his incarceration here, Dar had spent 40 days in a Dhaka jail.
Not surprisingly, the model's father Gazi Ghulam Nabi Dar, who had spearheaded a campaign for his son's release from jail and had also enlisted the support of several Kashmiri leaders, was angry over the episode.
'This system of 90-days police custody must come to an end,' he told reporters outside Tihar Jail.
'A period of one month is enough for any investigative agency to ascertain if someone is a criminal. Keeping people in custody for three months merely on a suspicion is too much,' he maintained.
© 2007 Indo-Asian News Service
‘No innocent should suffer like my son’
Tushar Srivastava, HIndustan Times, New Delhi, January 24, 2007
Tariq Ahmed Dar, till a few years back, was a known face in print commercials of top brands in Bangladesh. A successful businessman, Dar was somewhat of a star in Dhaka’s modelling circuit.
In less than six months, all that changed. The most published star of Bangladesh was labelled “a spy and a terrorist”. The Bangladesh Rapid Action Force arrested Dar on September 15 last year on charges of spying for India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). He was allegedly kept in illegal detention for 40 days, tortured, and finally deported to India.
As soon as he landed at the Delhi airport on September 25, Dar was arrested for his ‘alleged’ links with the banned militant outfit Lashkar-e-Tayyeba. With a suspect in the Delhi blasts of October 2005 also going by the same name, it was a case of mistaken identity.
For Dar’s family, the arrest came as a rude shock. His father, Gulam Nabi Dar, is a well-know poet. He spent almost all his resources to get his son released, but nothing happened. He even ran a campaign and also enlisted the support of several Kashmiri politicians. The family had almost given up.
Dar’s case got a boost when the Amnesty International and the Indian external affairs ministry intervened. “No innocent should suffer like this,” said Gulam Nabi Dar. The family was a regular at the Dhaka International Trade Fair.
“Tariq started his own business in Bangladesh in June last year,” said Imtiaz, his younger brother. “He was doing well. At his friend’s insistence, he started modelling and became a huge success,” Imtiaz said. He even won the Mr Bangladesh contest in 2003, and that was when, his family said, he was noticed by the Bangladeshi intelligence agencies. Since he was an Indian national, his participation aroused suspicion. The Dars are now planning to produce a movie on Tariq’s experience. No points for guessing who will play the lead role in the movie.
Email Tushar Srivastava: [email protected]
Court drops charges against Tariq Dar
NDTV Correspondent, Wednesday, January 24, 2007 (New Delhi):
Kashmiri model Tariq Dar has spent the last three months in jail on charges of being a terrorist. But in a major embarrassment, the Delhi police had no evidence against him.
At a sessions court in Delhi it took less than an hour for the judge to dismiss all terror charges against 28-year-old Tariq, who was arrested last October.
Tariq was deported from Bangladesh last September where he was working as a model, apparently because Dhaka suspected he had terror links and in October he was arrested.
The police and intelligence agencies said he was the "logistics man" for the Lashkar-e-Toiba, channeling money from Bangladesh into the Kashmir valley.
But today was the last day for the police to file their charge sheet and without any evidence against Dar, they had to close the case altogether.
Tariq was behind bars for the last three months and his father, a businessman in Srinagar, said his family has suffered for no fault of theirs.
"He never had terror links and was in Bangladesh for legitimate reasons. He was into business and had been a successful model. Cases were foisted by his rivals," said Ghazi Nabi Dar, Tariq Dar's father.
An embarrassed police that has been forced to close the case against Tariq still refuse to give him the dignity of declaring him innocent.
"We could not collect any material against him so we filed discharge application in the court. We're not giving clean chit to him. Tariq admitted having links with Faisal who was from Lashkar-e-Toiba but he never disclosed having direct terrorist links," said Karnal Singh, Joint Commissioner, Special Cell, Delhi Police.
With the court discharging the case against him, Tariq Ahmad Dar and his family has heaved a huge sigh of relief but they say it is a question of an innocent man losing his liberty for 90 days and there is a lot the police have to answer for.
In fact, National Conference President Omar Abdullah will be complaining to the National Human Rights Commission and the Prime Minister's Office about the way in which the police handled Tariq Dar's case.