The events of 19th September and subsequent days have left the Jamia community shocked, aggrieved and fearful. In particular the manner and the suspicious circumstances in which young boys, many of them students of Jamia Millia Islamia, have been picked up by the Special Cell, and pronounced "dreaded terrorists" by a trial by an utterly sensationalist and prejudiced media has created an atmosphere of fear and suspicion.
On the day of the operation indiscriminate arbitrary detentions were made that included five school children living in the flat opposite and were released only late in the night. Arrests are continuing unabated. Even as some teachers had accompanied senior lawyers to meet with the families of boys picked up, on 23.09.2008, around 5 o' clock, news arrived that Saqib Akhtar, a 17-year-old boy, a distant cousin of slain Atif Amin, had been picked up from his residence in Abul Fazal Enclave. A complaint with the police was filed at the Jamia Nagar Police Station. Within an hour the Special Cell communicated to the boy's family that he would be released. It appears that the presence of a well-known Supreme Court lawyer, teachers from Jamia, and senior journalists pressured the Special Cell enough to refrain from detaining an innocent boy, and ensured that Saqib returned home safe the same evening. This incident illustrates the vulnerability of the people residing in the locality: not only are they subject to arbitrary 'arrests' by the Special Cell, which whisks them off to undisclosed locations, the local police refuses to file complaints or feigns ignorance. Further, they lack recourse to proper legal aid.
We as teachers feel that we cannot afford to isolate ourselves in intellectual ivory towers. There is an urgent need to reach out to the community which lives at our very doorstep, and where a large number of teachers, administrative staff and our students reside. The locality has been besieged by a sense of alienation, terror and insecurity. We unequivocally condemn this brazen witch hunt in the name of fighting terror and pledge solidarity with the people of Jamia Nagar, and especially the families of those whose boys have been picked up and arrested without a shred of evidence.
Independent fact finding teams and even sections of the media have raised doubts about the veracity of the police version regarding the 'encounter' on 19th September and the subsequent arrests made on that basis. We demand that an impartial and independent enquiry be constituted to examine this entire episode.
We further demand that a list of students who have been picked up by the Delhi Police/ Special Cell should be provided to the University immediately. The University must demand that no students (whether living in the hostel or not) shall be picked up/ arrested without intimating the university authorities. And upon receiving such information, the administration must actively intervene and ensure that students are not tortured in custody and that their rights as citizens are not denied.
The Jamia Teachers Solidarity Group also resolves to extend legal or any other assistance to the students arrested/ implicated in this entire episode. We shall work to extend the movement to include teachers from other universities, as well as other bodies such as the DUTA, JNUTA, IGNOUTA, and other democratic and secular individuals and organisations.
Prof. Farida Khan (Faculty of Education) Prof. A. K. Ramakrishnan (Centre for West Asian Studies) Prof. Janaki Rajan (Faculty of Education) Prof. Azra Razzack (Centre for Dalit and Minority Studies) Prof. Navnita Behera (Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution) Dr. Neshat Quaiser (Department of Sociology) Dr. Padmanabh Samarendra (Centre for Dalit and Minority Studies) Dr. Sanghamitra Misra (Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution) Dr. Ravi Kumar (Department of Sociology) Dr. Narendra Kumar (Centre for Dalit and Minority Studies) Dr. Rahul Ramangundam (Centre for Dalit and Minority Studies) Dr. Farah Farooqi (Faculty of Education) Dr. Anuradha Ghosh (Department of English) Manisha Sethi (Centre for the Study of Comparative religions and Civilizations) Sreerekha (Centre for Women's Studies) Tanweer Fazal (Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution) Ahmed Sohaib (Centre for the Study of Comparative religions and Civilizations) Kamei Aphun (Department of Sociology) Dr. Shahid Jamal Ansari (Centre for West Asian Studies) Dr. Sabiha Hussain (Centre for Dalit and Minorities Studies) Ambarein Qadas (Mass Communication Research Centre) M.G. Shahnawaz (Department of Psychology) Waseem Ahmed Khan (Faculty of Education) Meher Fatima Hussain (Centre for Dalit and Minority Studies) Harpreet Kaur Jass (Faculty of Education) Arshad Ahmed (Faculty of Education) Dr. Sarwat Ali (Institute of Advanced Studies in Education) Dr. Rafiullah Azmi (Centre for West Asian Studies) Arshad Alam (Centre for Jawaharlal Nehru Studies) Dr. Arif Ali, (Department of Biotechnology) Adil Mehdi (Department of English) Haris Ul Haq (Jamia Middle School) Dr. Ranjeeta Dutta, (Department of History)
II. *Cover-up charges cling to terror probe* NDTV Correspondent Wednesday, September 24, 2008, (New Delhi) http://www.ndtv. com/convergence/ ndtv/story. aspx?id=NEWEN200 80066505
Delhi's latest terror spectre throws up contrasting images. A police officer -- one of finest -- shot 3 times. And, young, educated, fun-loving men who the police say are deadly terrorists.
The police are convinced that Atif and his group, all in their 20s with the youngest just 17, are the men responsible for all the major blasts in India this year and the death of nearly 150 people.
But now, a group of lawyers and human rights activists are raising questions. They ask who are the two missing men, who escaped from the flat in Batla house on the day of encounter. And how could they possibly escape when the only way out was a narrow staircase and there were several policemen in the area. *(Watch)*<http://www.ndtv. com/convergence/ ndtv/videopod/ default.aspx? id=39463>
The other question is that the profiles of these young men seemed to indicate terror was the farthest thing from their minds. The were regular college going students.
One of those arrested, Zeeshan, was giving his exams on the day of the encounter. He came on TV to surrender. Why didn't he run away? The police say they have evidence that he planted the bomb at Delhi's Barakhamba Road.
Another alleged Indian Mujahideen (IM) operative Saqib was also arrested. A gold medalist in economics honours from Jamia Millia University, he was a regular on Orkut. He maintained a profile like most users do and had a wide circle of friends.
Cops claim the 23-year-old was involved in both Ahmedabad and Delhi blasts. Saqib's family has countered the police claims and furnished documents to show that Saquib appeared for six exams from the 23rd of July to the 28th July -- the time that the police claim he was planning the blasts.
Shakib's brother says: "He was the topper in his class for the last two years."
The house where the men were staying and its caretaker are also under the scanner. The caretaker, who has worked in the PWD for several years, insists that he gave the details of the men staying at his home to the police almost a month before the blasts.
However, the police have now arrested him for forging these documents. His son has also been arrested for involvement with terrorists.
There are several such questions to which there are still no easy answers. And the police know they will have to find hard evidence to back each of their claims. However, they say the death of Inspector Sharma proves there was no fake encounter.
Error tactics 24 Sep 2008, 0128 hrs IST, Jug Suraiya
The scourge of terror India is facing is compounded by what seems to have become a persistent policy of error on the part of the law enforcement agencies, from the home ministry down to the policeman on the beat. The Batla House encounter in Delhi, in which two suspected terrorists belonging to the radical wing of the Indian Mujahideen (IM) were shot dead, one was arrested, and a much-decorated police officer, Mohan Chand Sharma, lost his life, is a case in point. While the Delhi Police and the Intelligence Bureau have claimed that the terrorist cell behind previous blasts, in Delhi and in Ahmedabad, has been virtually neutralised, several awkward questions have been raised which have yet to be satisfactorily answered by the authorities.
Why did Mohan Sharma — a thoroughly professional career police-man known for his cool, analytical ability — go into a potential combat zone without taking the basic precautions of wearing a bullet-proof vest or asking for back-up? How did two other terrorists said to have been on the premises manage to escape despite the police cordon set up around the building? Had the IM 'mastermind' who was killed in the shooting, Atif, actually undergone police verification, as is claimed by the caretaker of the hideout flat?
In a standard non-reply to these and similar questions, a spokesperson for the Delhi Police is quoted as having said: "It is the irony of this country that they (presumably anyone who questions the official version of any incident involving extremists or suspected extremists) continue to sympathise with the terrorists despite the death of a policeman in the operation."
Surely the point is that such questions — which call to account the efficacy of the official machinery to apprehend and eliminate terror — are all the more relevant in the context of the death of a brave law enforcement officer, who has already become a local folk hero. Mohan Sharma was a victim of terror. But was he also a victim of the error tactics of the official apparatus to fight terror?
Had the intelligence agencies (a misnomer if ever there was one) been more accurate and anticipatory in their information-gathering and fact-finding, had the basic ground rules of armed engagement in the field been observed, Mohan Sharma might well have been alive today, the dedicated nemesis of many a terrorist and other lawbreaker. Repeated official error has been, and remains, the unwitting accomplice of terror. A survey conducted by the TOI made the unsurprising discovery that those states which had the highest incidents of communal violence were also the most prolific breeding grounds for potential extremists.
A climate of chronic creed- or caste-based hostility and repression creates a backlash of fundamentalism, either religious or ideological, as in the case of so-called Naxals. Though this is patently obvious to the point of banality, little or nothing has been done to pre-empt and obviate extremism by deterring communal and caste violence, both through more vigilant policing and through punitive measures such as the imposition of collective fines on communities repeatedly indicted for such offences.
Errors of omission and commission encourage and foment terrorism. Though the ban on SIMI justifiably stays in place, Bajrang Dal continues with impunity — and in some cases with alleged police complicity — to attack Christian establishments, including orphanages, in Karnataka and elsewhere. The Bajrang Dal represents a fundamentalism as vicious as that of any terrorist organisation. No, the Bajrang Dal does not plant bombs which randomly kill innocent people of all creeds; employing the energy-saving ergonomics of ethnic cleansing the offshoot of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad attacks only Christian priests, nuns and orphans.
There are too few Christians in India — the putative casus belli of conversions notwithstanding — to give reactionary rise to Christian extremism as has tragically happened with Islam. But this will owe nothing to central and state governments' policies to curb extremism in any form. And which, so far, have only added 'error' to the't' in terror.