It was twelve years ago that Mohammad Rafiq Shah – MA (Final) Student of Shah-i-Hamadan, Institute of Islamic Studies, University of Kashmir, Srinagar – was picked by the Delhi Police cell and Kashmir’s Special Task Force (STF). His crime? He was alleged to have planted a bomb, which injured many, in a DTC bus in Govindpuri (Delhi) on October 29, 2005.
Twelve years later on February 16, he was acquitted of the crimes after spending more than a decade of his youth in jail, for a crime he was found not guilty of.
He was acquitted of all charges by Judge Reetesh Singh after additional sessions. But that raised a series of unanswered questions on the credibility of the police and human rights violations by them.
Here’s an overview of the whole case.
– Rafiq was brought to Delhi after allegedly subjecting him to torture and humiliation at an STF camp.
-Rafiq’s had claimed that
“he was made an accused to assuage the public perception that Delhi Police was incompetent to act against terrorism”
– He also claimed that,
“He was a vulnerable target… made a scapegoat.”
– Police deliberately ignored his alibi at every step. They even brushed aside his plea that he could prove that he was in class on the day of the blast.
– Before the test identification parade (TIP) could be conducted, the police had exposed Rafiq to many people. They even suppressed inconvenient facts.
-On February 12, 2006 a headline in Times of India read,
“Could be a case of harried cops under pressure to show results, targeting an innocent boy?”
And, another front-page report read,
“Delhi bomber was in class on October 29”
– During the framing of charges on January 21, 2008, Rafiq alleged that he forced to drink urine, kept naked and sexually abused, all in order to perhaps break his spirit. He had also alleged that rats were put in his trousers and attempts made to hurt his religious sentiments.
He had said,
“It seems I am being victimised only because I am a Kashmiri Muslim.”
– According to Supreme Court’s observation that when it comes to the notice of the investigating agency that a person accused of an offence has a good alibi, then it is the duty of that agency to investigate the genuineness of the plea of alibi and submit a report to the magistrate.
The court stated,
And, Rafiq’s case failed on all counts.
– Delhi Police’s witness, Danbir Sharma, one of the passengers couldn’t identify Rafiq. But the police presented that on the basis of his description, they got a poster made. Later, the portrait disappeared mysteriously.
– Then, another witness, Rajeev Sinha, surfaced. His description of the bomber differed from Danbir’s description.
– Singh described the bomber as a young man, 22-24 years of age with a French-cut beard and prominent nose, who was wearing a cap with `New York’ written on the right. He said he was wearing a white shirt with grey stripes and cotton trousers, either blue or black.
– Danbir (Sharma) said the bomber was a boy of 5 feet, 10 inches height and had `sanwla’ complexion. According to him, he was wearing a `coca cola’ coloured shirt and white trousers.
– The defence later claimed that Rafiq had a full-grown beard when he was arrested. It was alleged that on November 25, 2005, inspector Badrish Dutt brought a barber to the special cell office and got his beard trimmed to resemble a French cut. He then took a photo of his on his cellphone.
– Rafiq had refused to participate in a TIP on grounds that he was exposed to many people while in custody at Lodi Colony and his photographs taken. He even mentioned a man wearing spectacles. His lawyers later alleged in court that it was Sinha, a planted witness. Later, Sinha accepted that he wore spectacles.
– Sinha had produced a ticket to prove his presence on the bus that day, which was left unverified by the police for long. They could’ve checked its authenticity with the depot manager and the registers quite easily. But, chose not to do so.
– About Rafiq’s claim of being in class on the day of the blast. The police wrote to the Registrar, University of Kashmir, on February 17, 2006, regarding verification of admission and attendance of Rafiq but chose to forget about it in court.
– Later, it was claimed that because of vacations, the information could not be procured from the university. The judge saw through the charade.
Just after 10 days of writing the first letter, DCP S K Tewari had on February 27 asked the Registrar,
“Whether ‘A’ or ‘P’ was marked in the attendance register of the class?”
The court maintained that unless DCP Tewari had access to the attendance records he could not have asked about it to the Registrar.
– The records were later produced by the defence and seen by the court. Hence, the vacation plea for not being able to verify Rafiq’s presence “seems to be false”.
– The police had claimed that another accused, Mohammad Hussain Fazli had led them to Rafiq. Rafiq told the court that he had met Fazili at the STF Camp on November 21, 2005 for the first time.
–Fazli, who was also acquitted of the charges, too, denied taking the cops to Rafiq. He further claimed that he was himself misled into believing by inspector Badrish Dutt that he was wanted in connection with an inquiry in a case under the Wildlife Protection Act. He too ended up in jail for 12 years.
Both – Mohammad Rafiq Shah and Mohammad Hussain Fazli, were arrested in 2005 and charged for the three Delhi bomb blasts at heart of the Capital on October 29, 2005. The blast had killed 67 people and more than 200 were injured.
They were acquitted after twelve years, but life definitely isn’t going to be same for them. Their batch-mates now are either PHD-holders or Professors. But their families are happy that their sons have finally come home.