20 july 2011
Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association
JTSA offers its heartfelt sympathies to the bereaved and the injured in the Mumbai serial blasts. We sincerely hope that the perpetrators of this mindless violence will be brought to justice swiftly. There are early indicators though that this investigation will be marred by prejudiced investigating agencies. There are news items appearing in various media outlets which cite the interrogation report of Md. Salman, a supposed operative of the Indian Mujahideen (IM) to establish that Mumbai was on IM’s sights.
Already we see that, though the Home Ministry has restrained from holding any group culpable, the investigation is being gently pushed in one direction. But even if one leaves aside for a moment the criticism that investigators react in stereotypical ways, their compass needle invariably pointing towards Azamgarh, there are serious issues arising out of this reliance on Salman’s interrogation report for getting to the bottom of the Mumbai serial blasts conspiracy.
Recall that Md. Salman, arrested by the Uttar Pradesh ATS from Siddharthnagar on 6 March 2010, was acquitted in the 2008 Delhi blasts earlier this year. This acquittal was at the point of charge, even before the trial proper had begun—which points to the flimsiness of the prosecution’s case against him. The prosecution had claimed that Salman was a key member of the IM on the basis of the recoveries they claimed to have made at the time of his arrest. These were notably: a) A Fake Passport: No passport was ever produced in the court.—only a photocopy with a false name which gave his age as 27 years was presented. b) A health card from Saudi Arab, which again listed his age as 27 years.
Acquitting him, the Additional Sessions Judge stated that if Salman had been arrested in possession of a fake Nepali passport and a health card from Dubai, these were charges that should be dealt with separately. “How does that (this evidence) make Salman a conspirator in these cases?” she had asked the prosecution.
Not surprisingly, the police did not book him under the relevant charges at the time of his arrests, raising the suspicion that these seizures were never made in the first place, but planted by the police later in order to mislead the courts about Salman’s age. Salman’s high school certificate clearly shows that he was a minor at the time of the Delhi blasts and, even if accused, ought to have been tried under the Juvenile Justice Act.
In an instance, where the courts have thrown out the prosecution’s ‘evidence’ and where there has been such grave suspicion of fabrication of evidence, how credible can the interrogation reports of Salman be? Are we going to go down the same convenient route of usual suspects, easy arrests, and quick confessions yet again?
Manisha Sethi, Sanghamitra Misra, Ahmed Sohaib, Adil Mehdi, Tanweer Fazal, Ghazi Shahnawaz, Arshad Alam, Farah Farooqi, Anwar Alam, MS BHatt, Azra Razak, Ambarien Al Qadar, Haris Haq