There is a tendency in all ‘special’ agencies entrusted with the task of investigating crimes of terror, to implicate innocent Muslim youth in acts of terrorism. Some of these acts are the blasts at Mecca Masjid, Ajmer Sharif Dargah, Samjhauta Express, Malegaon. The truth that Hindu right wing was involved in these has been officially exposed.
There are however also numerous other instances, which are entirely fictional—the creation of the minds and geniuses of the members of the investigating agencies. The Special Cell of the Delhi Police is particularly afflicted with this syndrome of manufacturing ‘encounters’, ISI agents and terrorists. This is not an empty accusation being bandied about by civil society activists, but a fact corroborated and commented upon by the premier agency under the Home Ministry, the CBI, and the judiciary.
1) ‘ISI Agents’: In July 2005, the Delhi police arrested seven young men, most of them from Kashmir, claiming that they were agents of the ISI, who had been arrested after an encounter on the Delhi Gurgaon Road. The Police maintained that fake currency, AK 47 assault rifles, sketch of Palam airport, army combat uniform and ammunition had been recovered from them in the aftermath of the shootout. Five years after they were presented as terrorists by the Special Cell, the Additional Sessions judge A.S. Bhatt has ruled that they were innocents sacrificed for awards and promotions. The order says: “The encounter alleged to have been taken place on the intervening night of July 1-2, 2005, did not take place at all and an absolutely fake encounter has been projected. The story of the encounter was carefully scripted in the office of special staff, Delhi Police, Dhaula Kuan, by its main author sub-inspector Ravinder Tyagi with the assistance of subinspectors Nirakar, Charan Singh and Mahender Singh.” Accusing the four police officers of having “acted in advancement of their self-interests in total disregard to the demands of their solemn duty. These four police officers, whose duty was to protect and safeguard citizens, have turned persecutors and tormentors," the Court has directed the Police Commissioner of conducting a probe into the incident and submitting its report within three months.
2) Al Badar Case: In December 2005, Md. Qamar and Irshad Ali disappeared from their homes, to be produced by the Special Cell in February 2006, as having been arrested while alighting from a J&K bus at Mubarka Chowk, North Delhi. The Special Cell claimed to have recovered pistols and RDX from them. The youth were charged under sec. 121 and 120 B for waging war against the state and under the Explosives Act. The High Court on the plea of the duo’s lawyer, Sufian Siddiqi, ordered an enquiry into the matter. Submitting its closure report in 2008, the CBI told the court that the Special Cell had falsely implicated the two Muslim youths, who were actually police informers. The call records of the two had proved this. The CBI has recommended severe punishment for the Cell’s officers Ravinder Kumar Tyagi – the recipient of the President’s Gallantry award at the 2008 Republic Day Parade – and Vinay Tyagi and Subhash Vats, who forged and fabricated evidence to prove that Ali and Qamar were terrorists. Days after the closure report was filed, the CBI officer who was investigating the case also moved a petition in the court of Additional Sessions Judge S K Gautam seeking “protection” against threats received from Sub-Inspector Vinay Tyagi of the Special Cell.
No action has been taken against the offenders while Irshad and Qamar are still rotting behind bars.
The bloody and shameful track record of the officers of the Special Cell—driven by their insatiable lust for awards and promotions, emboldened by absolute impunity they enjoy—raises serious questions over the methods and motives of the Special Cell and its ‘anti-terrorist’ operations. Surely, as the Home Minister, in charge of security agencies and police, he must also ask why your officers see communal witch hunts, fake encounters and branding of innocents as the easiest route to promotions and gallantry medals. Does not the immunity afforded to these officers—no conviction or even suspension despite repeated indictments—embolden them? Does the government feel no responsibility towards those whose lives have been scarred and robbed of all dignity by years of forced incarceration?
A majority of the Special Cell team behind the Al Badar frame up—and most notably Ravinder Tyagi, also implicated in the fake encounter case of 2005—also led the charge on L-18, on 19th September. Given their now proven past record of indulging in falsehoods, manufacturing evidence where none exists and framing innocents as terrorists, the need for an enquiry into the ‘encounter’ is all the more urgent. We demand therefore that:
1) All officers of the Delhi Police Special Cell, especially Ravinder Tyagi, involved in these frame-ups be immediately suspended. A thorough probe be conducted into their activities and their superiors who colluded with them and protected them.
2) Irshad Ali and Md. Qamar be released without further delay. All those arrested on concocted charges be given reparations for mental trauma, social stigma and loss of livelihood.
3) A probe into the Batla House ‘encounter’ cannot be termed a ‘travesty’ (as did the former National Security advisor). The repeated and routine involvement of Special Cell officers in sham anti-terror operations casts serious aspersions on their claims about the ‘encounter’. There is enough evidence already, including the post mortem reports of the deceased, to indicate that the Special Cell version is full of inconsistencies and lies. Md. Salman, one of those alleged by the Delhi Police to be a conspirator in the Delhi blasts has been absolved by the sessions court for lack of evidence.