On March 25, 2013, Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde promised fast-track courts to try Muslim citizens accused of terrorist activities. Even as a stated intent, this is a watershed moment in the battle to secure justice for hundreds of innocent Muslims rotting in prisons despite a complete lack of evidence. Since 2001, when SIMI, a radical Muslim students’ outfit, was banned, young Muslim boys have been arrested as a cynical default mode, prejudged and condemned by the media, public and security establishment even before trials could begin. The poisonous idea that “Every Muslim is not a terrorist but every terrorist is a Muslim” had seeped into the country’s consciousness. No one was interested in the facts.
This began to change substantially in August 2008, when Tehelka began to publish a series of in-depth investigations into such cases. The colossal scale of abuse and injustice was brought into the public domain for the first time. Over the last five years, Tehelka’s reporters, Ashish Khetan, Ajit Sahi, Rana Ayyub, Harinder Baweja, Baba Umar, Imran Khan, Brijesh Pandey, G Vishnu and Zahid Rafiq have exposed hundreds of such cases. Here is a compendium of this reportage. Tehelka’s pathbreaking coverage on the subject has undoubtedly changed the discourse on counterterrorism in India. But the battle for justice will remain unfinished until all the accused who are innocent are absolved of false charges, rehabilitated and compensated for their terrible suffering. And the guilty get punished.
SOME YEARS ago, at a TEHELKA press conference, a young Muslim man walked up to TEHELKA Editor Tarun Tejpal and held his hand in deep gratitude. “If it had not been for your journalists, we would long have picked up the gun. Your work gives us hope, Sir,” he said. “You help us believe we belong to this country.”
It was one of those rare moments of vindication journalists live for. The young man’s father, a respected maulvi, was falsely incarcerated then. We had just written his story. He would be acquitted a few years later. Read More>
In a crucial investigation over three months, Editor-at-Large Ajit Sahi tracked the SIMI fictions across 11 cities —Trivandrum, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Udaipur, Bhopal, Mumbai, Delhi, Aurangabad, Ahmedabad and Gorakhpur. His findings are alarming and distressing. They demand urgent introspection and corrective action. Read More>
ON 18 DECEMBER 2010, a team of CBI sleuths escorted an elderly Bengali man Naba Kumar Sarkar, 59 — popularly known as Swami Aseemanand — from Tihar jail to the Tis Hazari court in Delhi, where he was produced before metropolitan magistrate Deepak Dabas. Aseemanand is the key accused in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast that killed nine people. This was his second court appearance in a span of little over 48 hours. On 16 December, Aseemanand had requested the magistrate to record his confession about his involvement in a string of terror attacks. He stated that he was making the confession without any fear, force, coercion or inducement. Read More>
A dangerous prejudice had slipped into the Indian criminal justice system: if there was a blast, a Muslim was behind it. For this, these 32 Muslims had to pay for blasts done by Hindutva extremists. Ashish Khetan reports.
The Gujarat Police took quick credit for arresting the masterminds behind the July 2008 blasts in Ahmedabad. Rana Ayyub tracks the police’s star witness to find he has been tortured into falsely implicating the ‘masterminds’. An exclusive report
The blasts chargesheet is silent on the role of other right-wing groups, says Rana Ayyub
Is Goa blast accused Sanatan Sanstha merely a harmless religious organisation or a dangerous cult that will stop at nothing? Rana Ayyub finds out.
Rana Ayyub gets hold of crucial call records on which the CBI is building its case.
‘The calls made by the minister are not part of official decorum. Their frequency is unnatural and uncommon in nature.’ — Gujarat CID report on Amit Shah’s calls to encounter cops Read More >
Former Home Minister Amit Shah will be questioned by the CBI between July 28 and July 30 in Sabarmati Jail. The CBI has obtained permission for the interrogation to be recorded on camera – to guard against future retractions. Tehelka first retrieved the call records that implicated Shah in the encounter killings of Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Kauser Bi. Read More >
Malegaon. Mecca Masjid. Ajmer Sharif. Why Are Tapes Implicating Ultra Hindutva Outfits In Terror Blasts Gathering Dust?
Tehelka has accessed 37 audio tapes, two videos and several witness statements that cast further light on the Malegaon blasts case of 2008 Read More >
SINCE THE sensational arrest of Gujarat junior Home Minister Amit Shah last week, the BJP has been crying hoarse about a Congress conspiracy; about the CBI being a “Congress bureau of investigation”; and of how the case against Shah is built on legally flimsy grounds. Read More >
The Malegaon blast probe threw up 37 audiotapes in which ultra-Hindu groups plot terror attacks. These tapes expose a shocking nexus between Military Intelligence men and the outfits. Two years later, why is this still unexplored, asks Rana Ayyub Read More >
Rana Ayyub examines the phenomenon of the Indian Mujahideen.
The BJP in Karnataka is fanning communal fears to consolidate the Hindu vote, reports Imran Khan
ASHISH KHETAN exposes the elaborate and cynical charade of the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad to implicate a bunch of Muslim men in terrorist strikes aimed at members of their own community
Over the past three years the evidence gathered by the agencies against a team of RSS pracharaks and lunatic Hindutva groups like Abhinav Bharat and Jai Vande Matram is compelling
A CBI progress report on the four fake encounters of 2004-2007 in Gujarat establishes what TEHELKA has been saying all along. Now, senior policemen and IB officials face arrests in these cases, says Rana Ayyub
It’s not just Ishrat Jahan. Rana Ayyub accesses exclusive intelligence inputs and pieces together a damning trail on another encounter in Gujarat. The story of Sadiq Jamal’s death raises uncomfortable questions the government might find difficult to answer.
IN MORE placid times, Motilal Nagar, No. 2 would be just another by lane in one just another one of Mumbai’s suburbs — one with a predominantly Muslim population. However, it has been attracting continuous media attention for the last couple of months ever since one of its residents — 37-yearold Faheem Ansari — was taken into custody by the Mumbai Police Crime Branch for his role in the terror attacks of 26/11.
TEHELKA BEGAN 2011 with the publication of Swami Asimananda’s stunning confession (In the words of a zealot, by Ashish Khetan, 15 January), which not only changed the terror discourse in the country but also the lives of seven Muslim men who were arrested after the 2006 blasts that took 37 lives in Malegaon, Maharashtra. Last week, six of them, hailing from different strata of Muslim society, returned home to a rousing welcome after getting bail. But the family of Mohammad Zahid, the poorest of the lot, will perhaps have to wait longer.
SYED WASIF HAIDER, a resident of Kanpur, UP, was jailed for eight years, before the courts finally acquitted him of all charges on 14 August 2009. As a part of the delegation meeting the president on 18 November, he had only one thing to say: “Please stop the media from defaming me. I was declared innocent in 2009. Yet, the local media drags my name in whenever there’s a blast. I’m facing a social boycott. Children in the locality don’t play with a ‘terrorist’s’ daughters. Relatives feel police will hound them for visiting me.”
THEY HAD been handed out the harshest sentence the penal code allows — death. But on 22 November, 16 years after they were charged, the Delhi High Court set aside their death sentences, acquitting Mahmud Ali Bhat, 43, and Mirza Nissar Hussain, 32, of any involvement in the 1996 Lajpat Nagar bomb blasts.
SYED MAQBOOL SHAH of Kashmir has a similar story of injustice and wrongful incarceration. In the bylanes of Srinagar’s Lal Bazaar, Shah’s two-storey decrepit house in Jan Mohalla has become a wellknown structure. Those looking for direction to this house are guided till the gate.
FOURTEEN YEARS is a long time. Wiping away the tears streaming down his cheeks, Mohammad Aamir recounts his experience of when he stepped out of the Rohtak Jail on 9 January 2012.
THE SPECIAL CELL of the Delhi Police was formed in 1986 as a counter-terrorism force. It shot into prominence in the late 1990s, claiming to have killed many terrorists and to have solved several cases. In time, some of its officers began to figure in extortion cases and dubious encounters. Tellingly, over the last four months, lower courts in Delhi have acquitted nine “terrorists” arrested by the Special Cell. Four such “terrorists” were arrested after an encounter in southwest Delhi in March 2005. Police claimed they had averted a major terrorist attack on the Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehradun. Five years later, all four men were acquitted. Brijesh Pandey profiles the four terrorists who never were.
ON 13 FEBRUARY, Syed Ahmed Kazmi was sitting in television news studios as an expert on Iran soon after the bombing of the car carrying the Israel Defence Attaché’s wife in New Delhi. Kazmi, who had widely reported on West Asia, fearlessly spoke his mind, rubbishing Israel’s claim that the attack was masterminded by Iran.
Muthi-Ur-Rahman Siddique, a journalist with the Deccan Herald in Bengaluru, was arrested last year, along with 14 others, in an alleged plot to assassinate prominent Right-leaning journalists and politicians in Karnataka. The National Investigating Agency (NIA) took over the case from the Karnataka police two months ago and dropped charges against Siddique and a co-accused, Yusuf Nalband. Siddique was released on 25 February. In a conversation with Imran Khan, Siddique shares his six-month ordeal behind the bars, and how the tag of a ‘mastermind’ affected his life and family.
GHULAM MOHIDEEN Dar suffered for no cause, no idea, no movement — just for being a Kashmiri. A thought that haunts him as he adjusts to new realities of life after being freed from a long incarceration. Dar contested the 2004 Parliamentary election from the Pulwama-Islamabad constituency as an independent candidate and later joined the Congress. He was also a dealer in Gulnar tea, and frequently came to Delhi on business. On one such trip on 15 June 2005, Dar met the then minister of state for defence and also sought an appointment with the President.
Forty-nine-year-old Anjum Zamarud Habib, founding member of the Hurriyat Conference, was falsely implicated under POTA. Habib’s memoir Prisoner No 100 is a rare and shocking account of a tortured five years in Tihar jail and a critique of the judicial system. She talks to Yamini Deenadayalan on a visit to Delhi (a place she “never feels free in and fears”). Edited excerpts.
In 1996, four people were bundled into a police van. One escaped, while there’s still no news of the other three. Baba Umar travels to Bhaderwah to expose the cover-up
Mirza Iftikhar Hussain, 40
Namchebal, Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir by Baba Umar
Shakeel Ahmad Khan, 50
Hazratbal, Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir by Baba Umar
Syed Maqbool Shah, 32
Lal Bazaar, Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir by Baba Umar
Imran Ahmad Kirmani, 29
Nelipora hamlet, Handwara Jammu & Kashmir by Baba Umar
Forty-nine-year-old Anjum Zamarud Habib, founding member of the Hurriyat Conference, was falsely implicated under POTA. Habib’s memoir Prisoner No 100 is a rare and shocking account of a tortured five years in Tihar jail and a critique of the judicial system. She talks to Yamini Deenadayalan on a visit to Delhi (a place she “never feels free in and fears”). Edited excerpts. Read More >
Over 10 years in jail. For a crime they did not commit. Baba Umar on the Muslims whose lives became hell in false terror cases
Syed Wasif Haider
Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh by Baba Umar
Syed Maqbool Shah
Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh by Baba Umar
The acquittal of two men on death row raises questions on the process of terror probes in India, says Baba Umar