Sunday, January 19, 2014

Delhi Police recommends award for Indicted Officers for Framing J&K Men in Terror Case

“Gallantry, Meritorious and Distinguished Services” Redefined

“Toll slips, odd photos, active mobile: 'Planted' case against terror accused”; “Action against cops who ‘framed’ J-K men: court”; “Delhi Special Cell: One More Fabricated Terror Case, ruined lives”--- these are a few headlines appeared in last September October daily news papers after a session court indicted police officers of Delhi Special Cell.
Times of India reported, “A trial court on Thursday acquitted two suspected Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) terrorists who were arrested for allegedly plotting terror strikes ahead of Independence Day in.”
“In a big jolt to the special cell of Delhi police, additional Sessions Judge Atul Kumar Garg acquitted Javed Ahmed Tantray and Ashiq Ali Bhatt, saying the whole case was planted. They have been acquitted of all charges under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, Explosive Substances Act and Arms Act.” (28 Sept, 13)
Indian Express reported on 3rd Oct: “Last week, a Delhi court acquitted two men from Jammu and Kashmir, Javed Ahmad Tantray and Ashiq Ali Bhatt, saying the Delhi Police Special Cell had foisted trumped-up charges on them.”
This was a serious indictment which has damaged the credibility of Special Cell. But in the eyes of Delhi Police, officers involved in “fabricated case” have done a great job and deserved President’s medal for “gallantry, meritorious and distinguished services”. Their names were recommended for the award this year.
The screening committee find the names of the two Special Cell inspectors — Lalit Mohan Negi and Hridaya Bhushan, involved in the case of Javed Ali Tantray and Aashiq Ali Bhutt in the list police sent for prestigious awards. The then ACP Sanjeev Kumar Yadav has already been awarded the President’s Medal for gallantry in 2010.
The acquittal of Kashmiri youth Tantray and Bhutt and indictment of Police were widely reported in the media. Both belong to poor families. Bhutt, a daily wager was picked up from a village in Jammu and Tantray was picked from East U.P. on his way back to home.  But they were shown arrested several day later on August 6, 2009 from Daryaganj area of Delhi, and were made accused FIR for planning 26/11 like terror attacks in the capital ahead of Independence Day”
“This particular acquittal order was brought to the notice of the screening committee. The court had passed strict observations against the investigations by the Special Cell. These two officers were an integral part of the investigation,” a senior officer said.
The Special Cell had also attempted to appeal against the acquittal and indictment but it did not get a nod from the legal department

At the time of “arrests” the then special commissioner (Special Cell) P N Aggarwal had told a press conference that Tantray and Bhatt were caught in Daryaganj while they were making a call to a Pakistani contact from a PCO. He claimed that before coming to Delhi, duo had met Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin and his deputy Khalid Saifullah at a terror training camp in Pakistan.
Indian Express reported (Oct 3, 2013), “all of the evidence produced by the police collapsed in the court. The trial judge issued a damning indictment. The case, he said, "was a clear-cut plant case by the Special Cell to get out-of-turn promotion".
In the four years that Tantray and Bhatt spent fighting to clear themselves, the policemen who led the operation were either promoted or kept in key posts in the Special Cell.
Sub-Inspector Chandrika Prasad was made head of a team in the Special Cell. IO Sanjeev Yadav promoted to the rank of additional DCP continued to hold the charge of DCP (Special Cell). Inspectors Hriday Bhushan and Lalit Mohan Negi also head teams in the force. The then Special Cell chief, Joint Commissioner P N Aggarwal, retired earlier this year. A month before retirement, he was promoted to the rank of DGP.
The court had found some of the glaring loopholes in the Special Cell's case. The police had claimed that Tantray and Bhatt came to Delhi in a stolen Santro from Jammu on August 6, 2009. To prove they submitted toll slips. But during trail it was found that prosecution has submitted two-way toll plaza slips of the same day, which proved that the car was first taken to Jammu and then back to Delhi,
The defense counsel M.S. Khan argued that the stolen Santro was planted on the accused by the police. Toll receipts revealed that the car was driven from Delhi to Jammu on the morning of August 6, 2009 and brought back the same day.
“It is the police who took the vehicle to Jammu in the morning and brought it back to Delhi in the evening.” Khan said.
The special cell claimed to have recovered two AK-47 rifles, four 120-round magazines and two hand grenades hidden in a cavity under the rear seat and on the front left side of the car. The witness Lalit Goel, owner of the car admitted in the court that there was hardly any space between the seat and the fuel tank to hide a weapon large like AK-47s and magazines. The car was stolen from Panipat,
Police claimed that one Balkishan, had alerted PCR about the accused, but failed to produce Balkishan in the witness box. Later Balkishan told IE "I was returning after dinner at a friend's place. I saw some men running around. The scene was chaotic so I made the PCR call. I did not see Santro car or the police recovering any explosives."
Police produced some photographs of arms and ammunition and stated they were pictured in the car itself, but the photos shows them placed on a white cement platform without any cover. Police has claimed the arms were packed in packets and wrapped in Khaki cloth.
The police claimed Tantray got off the car and made a call to Pakistan from a PCO booth that was 700 m away from the spot where police claimed car was parked. Defense found a PCO close to the parking point. Police could not explain why the accused did chose to walk so far? The three policemen who were supposedly keeping a eye on them visited the booth after eleven days.
The mobile number allegedly belonging to one Faiyaaz, said to be their contact in Jammu, was found active even after four years. The police never sought details of the number, nor did they ever question this person.
The Special Cell claimed that after the local police were informed of the arrests and recovery of weapons, ASI Nirmal Singh Virk of Daryaganj police station came to the spot, and prepared a report immediately. However instead of a handwritten statement, as it is usual, police submitted a typed statement. In his diary at the police station, Virk made no mention of the arrests of the alleged terrorists and the recovery of arms and ammunition.
 Despite the arrests having been made in summer night of Shab-e-Qadr, when a large number of people in the predominantly Muslim neighborhood stay out, the police were unable to find a single witness from among the public.
And such inept police officers were recommended for President’s Medal in recognistion of “Gallantry, Meritorious and Distinguished Services”.  Has Delhi Police refined “Gallantry”, “Meritorious” and “Distinguished Services”?

Writer is Gen. Sec, of Forum for Civil Rights. 

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