Delhi University Teachers in Defence of S. A. R. Gilani
5B Imperial Avenue, Delhi 110007
National Human Rights Commission
14 February, 2005
Subject: Disinformation campaign by the police and sections of the media in the case relating to the murderous attack on Prof. S. A. R. Geelani
As citizens concerned with democratic norms, justice and human rights in India, we are very disturbed by the statements emanating from the Delhi Police, through sections of the print and the visual media, in the case mentioned above.
In our open letter to the Home Minister, dated 9 February, 2005 (Annexure 1), which was signed by hundreds of academicians, writers, artists, journalists and social activists within hours of the attack on Prof. Geelani, we stated:
"we strongly feel that the involvement of the Delhi Police itself, especially its Special Branch, in the crime can not be ruled out. It is clear by now that this Branch was in the grip of communal-fascist forces during the entire proceedings in the Parliament attack case. As with the other accused in the case, Prof. Geelani was falsely implicated on the basis of forged documents and concocted evidence. He was illegally arrested, brutally tortured and made to sign on blank sheets of paper by the officers of the branch. Attempts were made on his life inside the prison. Per the records submitted by his defence before the Supreme Court of India, he was constantly shadowed by the police throughout the country even after he was honourably acquitted by the High Court."
The needle of suspicion is thus directed at the Delhi Police until they are able to exonerate themselves with truthful investigation.
Instead, as with the entire proceedings in the Parliament attack case, the Delhi Police has started a disinformation campaign, with the aid of sections of the print and the visual media, to divert the attention of the country away from the real issues of the case. We wish to draw your attention to four specific aspects of this campaign among many others.
1. Involvement of Ms. Haksar: There is a sinister attempt to target Ms. Nandita Haksar, Prof. Geelani's lawyer and an outstanding human rights activist of the country. Ms. Haksar had defended the rights of the unempowered for many decades. With exemplary courage and dedication to democracy and justice, Ms. Haksar had defended the rights of Prof. Geelani in a trial that was marked with shocking instances of prejudice and violation of law. She had also protected the entire Geelani family from abuse and suffering with almost motherly care.
The complaint of the police (Annexure 2) that they were not informed of the attack in time thus allowing "vital" clues to disappear is without any basis. When Geelani knocked on their door with several bullets inside his body, Ms. Haksar and her husband did what we would expect a human being to do, namely, to transfer the critically injured immediately to a reputed hospital. Geelani's life was possibly saved due to their prompt action. Moreover, as Ms. Haksar has repeatedly stated, the prime suspect in this case is the Delhi Police itself. It is natural that seeking help from the possible perpetrators of the crime did not strike her at that critical moment.
On the other hand, when some of us visited the scene of attack nearly five hours after the event, we found the place swarming with police from the Crime Brance; yet, the crucial stretch of road between the car and the Haksar house had not been cordoned off. This enabled cars and people, including police personnel, to trampel all over possible clues in the soggy, muddy stretch of road.
2. Geelani as a "suspect": An attempt is being made, both by the police and some of the media, to drag in aspects of the Parliament attack case to vilify Prof. Geelani (Annexure 3). Despite his hounourable acquittal by the High Court, he is portryed as a person having terrorist links and a suspect in the case. The attempt clearly is to lessen the impact of the brutal attack on Geelani by pointing at his allegedly questionable character. Apart from the fact that these allegations, after the judgment of the High Court, are clearly libelous, they have nothing to do with the case itself: the only issue right now is to bring the perpetrators of the attack on Geelani to justice.
3. Role of other accused: The preceding strategy is extended to involve even the other accused in the Parliament attack case - Mohammad Afzal and Shaukat Hussain Guru - currently languishing in the death row of the Tihar Jail. It is said that they might have organized the attack as a revenge on Geelani (Annexure 4). Not only that the accused are lodged in high-security isolated cells of the Tihar Jail for the past three years, as noted, it is on record that they did not even have the resources to organize their legal defence. Eminent lawyers and human rights activists had to step in to provide legal assistance to them. Also, Mohammad Afzal had clearly exonerated Prof. Geelani from any involvement in the Parliament attack case. Even then, granting that they organized hired killers from inside the jail, could they have done it without direct complicity of the police and the jail administration?
4. Harassment of family: The police and sections of the media are claiming that the clothes Geelani was wearing during the attack were "hidden" by the family (Annexure 5). The fact is that, in a routine manner, the clothes were handed over to the family by the hospital, and they handed them over to the police the moment they asked for it (Annexure 6). The police cannot fail to know this.
Moreover, they have kept Geelani's car under seizure and the family is not able to use it during this harrowing period. They have also seized the computer used by Geelani's daughter ostensibly to search for Geelani's enemies. In our opinion, these actions not only show the failure of the police to launch a serious investigation into this massive crime, there is an attempt to personalize what is clearly an enormous political crime. Who are the police trying to shield with these diversionary tactics?
In view of the grave implications of the concerns just raised, we urge you to:
(1) direct the police and the Press Council to refrain the police and the media from spreading falsities
(2) direct them to strictly obey the principles of natural justice
(3) ask the government to hand over the case to an independent judicial inquiry with CBI as the investigating agency.
Annexure 1: Open
Letter to Home Minister
Annexure 2: "Delay in reporting incident made task tough for police", The Hindu, 10/2; "Cops hit back: Clues lost as we were not told in time", Times of India, 12/2.
Annexure 3: "Hounded by cops?", i, 11/2
Annexure 4: "Whodunit tales and theories", Times of India,11/2
Annexure 5: "New Holes in Geelani case", Times of India, 13/2
Annexure 6: "A blood-stained sweater", Hindustan Times, 13/2.
1. The Police Commissioner, Delhi Police
2. The Hon'ble Minister of Home Affairs, Govt. of India
1. Tripta Wahi (Convenor), Delhi University
2. Neeraj Malik (Convenor), Delhi University
3. Nirmalangshu Mukherji, Delhi University
4. Vijay Singh, Delhi University
5. Javed Malik, Delhi University
6. Sanghamitra Misra, CSCS Bangalore
7. Deepika Tandon, Delhi University
8. Shashi Saxena, Delhi University
9. Sharmila Purkayastha, Delhi University
10. N. D. Pancholi, PUCL
11. Uma Chakravarti, Delhi University
12. Anand Chakravarti , Delhi University
13. S.R. Ilyas, Journalist
14. Svati Joshi, Delhi University
15. Sunil Kumar Mandiwal, Delhi University
16. K. Balagopal, Human Rights Forum Hyderabad
17. Harish Dhawan, Delhi University
18. Nagraj Adve, PUDR
19. Kr. Sanjay Singh, Delhi University
20. Debashish, DSU Delhi
21. Ujjwal K. Singh, Delhi University
22. Bela Bhatia, CSDS
23. Gautam Navlakha, EPW
24. Nandini Sundar, PUDR
25. Joseph Mathew, Writer
26. Sunita Kumari, Nari Mukti Sanghathan
27. Shahana Bhattacharya, PUDR
28. Rakesh Shukla, PUDR
29. Tapas Ranjan Saha, Delhi University
30. Gangesh, Jawaharlal Nehru University
31. Babul Dhkar, Delhi University
32. Awadesh, Jawaharlal Nehru University
33. Mona Das, Jawaharlal Nehru
34. Dhwajendra Dhawal, PDSU
35. Chitra Joshi, IPC
36. Veena Naregal, IEG
[letter reproduced verbatim; "Geelani" and "Geelani" are used interchangeably in the text]
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