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23 September, 2008

Fact Finding into Jamia Nagar encounter killing

The following is the report of a fact-finding team, comprising Suprem Court lawyer Prasanth Bhushan, Dr Anup Saraya of AIIMS Front for Social Consciousness,
Advocate N.D.Pancholi, Vice-President , People’s Union for Civil Liberties (Delhi),
Shahana Bhattacharya of People’s Union for Democratic Rights, Ms. Sree rekha, Reader Jamia Millia, Adv Mayank Misra, Mr Shakeeb Ahmed of Janahstakshep,
and K. K. Bhattacharya, on the Jamia Nagar incident:

Date of incident: 19 September 2008

Date of first visit to Jamia Nagar area by team: 21 September 2008

1. The police sitting outside L-18 say that on the day of the incident six companies of police were here. Each company has 72 men.

2. Our observation- Nobody could have escaped from the building – the police in the first statements after the encounter otherwise said (as reported in electronic media) that 2 persons escaped during the encounter. The building has only one entrance and exit and there is a gap between the terrace of this building and next. It appears that this story of there being 5 men/boys is based on interrogation of Saif who was the youth who was arrested while Atiq and Sajid were killed during the encounter.

3. Zeeshan who also shared the flat/room had left at 8 am as he had a test(entrance test of some kind. Headlines Today reported him gone to IIPM for taking some reexaminations there, a Channel apparently has also run a clip of administratives of IIPM attesting to the fact!(More DETAILS?) was arrested later in the night of 19 Sep. According to Ameeque (cousin of Atiq and independent doc. film maker who has worked extensively for Doordarshan and editor of paper Samyik Varta), Zeeshan was wondering what he could do when he heard about the encounter after he got out of his examination and called some people about advice. Some told him to run away- but he didn't want to as he had not done anything wrong. He got the phone no. of the TV Channel 'Headlines Today' and went to their office to give his statement. This was partially aired. As he was coming out of the TV channel's office he was arrested by the police. He too is being called a terrorist.

4. Account of Badr Tasleem

Mr Badr Tasleem (works in Jamia in admn.) who lives in L-17 Jamia Nagar (next door to L-18 where the encounter took place on 4th floor) says that he first thought crackers were being burst but then he had some doubts and came out of his house to see what was happening. The sounds of the gunshots were coming from L-18 – there were already some men, i.e. presumably special cell men and the residents of the house, up there. He heard a scream. The gunshots continued. Then a group of men led by a man in kurta pyjama (who Mr. Tasleem has identified in one newspaper photo- he was possibly a plainclothes special cell person) with guns came running by asking for the way into the building (L-18) and ran up- planning among themselves as to who would "cover" whom (in the event of firing upon them).
Gunfire continued from the top floor of the house. There was no police cordon that he could see around the house or even too much in the lane. At least no one in uniform. After some time they brought down one man who was wearing a white shirt and blue tie- he was supported on two sides by two persons. Mr. Tasleem later learnt that this was Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma. There was no blood on the front of his shirt/clothes when he was brought down, except a small spot or mark on the right of his shirt. (not sure about this at all). The firing continued after that. They then brought down one person but completely wrapped up so he could not see who it was. They then brought another person's body but that was not covered. He could not see whose bodies these were.

The first time he came out of his house hearing gunshots (which were already being fired) was around 11 am and they continued till about 11.40. There was no police cordon before the Special Cell people had gone upstairs- ie before the gunfire started. And even when he got out of his house to see what was happening he saw that there were only 5-7 policemen around. There was no barricade at the end of the road either. The full force came only after 11.20 a.m. or so. A very large number of policemen came. Before that there were Special Cell (or STF as everyone here calls them) people in plainclothes but they could not tell.

5. Account of Ex-Councillor Mr. Asif Mohammad
(He was independent councilor and won from the entire area – including Sukhdev Vihar, Maharani Bagh etc- i.e not just 'Muslim' areas and had taken up the incident of fake encounter of Abu Samal in the same area in the month of Ramzan in 2002. In that case the police had made two eyewitnesses disappear. The people had held demonstrations in front of police station etc. He was then arrested and detained as a 'SIMI' member for eight and half months in jail and for some more months under NSA as they said he was with LeT. He was implicated in 24 cases and is presently an undertrial.)

He arrived on the spot around 11.10 or 11.15 am. According to him, there was police presence in the area from the night. Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma was seen at the juice stall outside at 11 pm on the night of 18th Sep. (He heard this from one of the local youths who has been a petty criminal and recognized Inspector Sharma). He says that there are eyewitnesses (who stay in house opposite L-18) who say that police 'Gypsies' went past the house twice at night – once at around 2-3 a.m and once at 4 am. People were awake on account of Ramzan schedule and they saw these. (We found no eyewitness nor much corroboration of this police presence from before. There was of course a lot of checking in the area after the blasts.)

He said that these boys had applied in the local police station (PS Jamia Nagar) for tenant verification – and there was a copy of this pending application with him. The application is stamped and received on 21 August 2008. The copy was with the person who was the caretaker of the house Abdur Rahman who works with PWD and lives nearby, who was acting on behalf of the landlord who lives in Ghaziabad (according to rent agreement, landlord's address was Aligarh). Abdur Rahman showed this to some TV channels and after that he was also picked up. Police wanted him to give them the form. They have also picked up his son Zia. They are now trying to say that this form is fake, their stamp on it is fake etc. However various NGOs also can distribute the form, Asif Mohd. said, and also one can download it from the net- they could look different therefore.

Atiq who was killed used to earlier stay in Sangam Vihar …If they were planning blasts would they in the application for verification have submitted their original village address (part of driving licence given as proof) – and PS (Sarai Meer, dt. Azamgarh). Also they put in the application after the blasts in July and before the blasts in Delhi. If they were mounting such an attack would they have given these truthful and original addresses?

Also all five names of those who were renting the house (Zeeshan Ahmed, Md. Saif, Md. Sajid (24 years) and Md. Sajid (20 years) and Mohd.Khalid) were added on the tenant verification form.

Asif Mohammad knows the area and the PS Sarai Meer in Azamgarh- and knows that the police there have had no complaints regarding the families of these youth.

About a week ago one Abdul Rashid Agwan (?), an older man, was picked up from Shaheen Bagh by the Special Cell and interrogated about SIMI – he had been member (?) -- he was repeatedly asked to name youth aged between 25-26 who had been part of SIMI whom he knew. He did not know anyone in that age group being an older man, and said so to the Special Cell who let him go with a threat.

Asif Mohd. raised questions about how Mohan Chand Sharma died, and says that according to his informal sources he was not hit from the front but from the back.
Badr Tasleem whom we spoke to before him had said that Sharma had no blood on the front of his body. By the time Asif Mohd saw him (or saw a man) near the Khaliullah mosque – there was a lot of blood on the lower part of his body.
At 11.10-11.15 when Asif Mohd came there was nobody from the media barring one man, one Saba Israr. They could not tell about how many policemen there were because many were in civilian clothes.

6. Account of Masih Alam, advocate, resident of L-17 Jamia Nagar

According to Adv. Masih Alam, he first heard firing from inside L-18 at around 10.45 am. (Ruk ruk ke firing ki awaaz aa rahi thi). He got out of his house to see and saw that there were 2-3 policemen at one end of the road (where the barricades now are) and 2-3 persons on the other side. After about 5 minutes (after 10.45 am) one injured person was brought down on foot supported by police…Then some 4-5 people wearing bullet proof vests went running up and then he heard the sound of 5-7 shots being fired. Then two policemen went up with a stretcher and got a body down.
There was very little police presence at least in uniform till then. There was no one below the flat for instance. But it would be impossible for anyone to escape from there. He does not know who the boys killed were- he has not been formally shown the pictures of those killed and is unable to say if these boys used to stay or visit there often.

As for the account that there was police and Special Cell presence in the area from the night he did not know much about it. There was a lot of checking in the area since the blasts.

Area leader Pervez Hashmi (present councilor) etc came later around 11.10 am or so along with LN Rao and Karnail Singh of Special Cell (the police say that they had taken him, Hashmi, into confidence).
The firing according to Masih Alam continued for about 15-20 minutes.

7. According to other observers while there were very few policemen on the street there was a very heavy outer cordon of police at least by 11.15.

8. Meeting at Jamaat Islami e Hind office, Abul Fazl Enclave-

Ameek, cousin of Atiq, gave his own background and that of Atif's own eldest brother Raghib Ameen, one of the most senior news cameramen in Delhi. They had all studied in Shibli School in Azamgarh and had come to the town to study from their village Sanjarpur in Azamgarh District). Atif asked Raghib's advice about what he could do as an elder in the family and Raghib told him to come to Delhi and take admission in Jamia. Atif wanted to stay with friends close to where he was to study and he asked Raghib and shifted near Jamia. He could not get admission into Jamia and joined B.Sc IT course in a private institute at South Extension. He stayed at that time in a DDA flat in Jasola. He had been in Delhi for three years. Just recently in July-August he got admission in PG course in Human Resources Management in Jamia and Ameek was aware that he had done so. He had also learnt that Atif had shifted closer to Jamia. He had told his brother that his 20 rupees daily conveyance fare would be saved by shifting to this new locality. Ameek did not meet him very often but happened to meet him 10-12 days ago. Atif asked him about a job or work- saying 'kab tak amma abba ke bharose rahenge'. Ameek told him that once he finished the course he could look for work.

8. Atif was 23 years old when he was killed.

9. Sajid the boy who was killed was just about 16-17 years old. (Ameek first told us about Sajid, then Sajid's brother Arshad came –he was in tears and had just come from Dubai where he works- Sajid is his youngest brother – Sajid and Arshad had two other brothers- Arshad was 17-18 years older than Sajid. Arshad told us and gave us a copy of his Identity card showing that Sajid was born in March 1991- therefore not 20 years old as given in police verification form) Sajid had come to Delhi to try to join Jamia in 11th standard. He had already completed his 11th class in Azamgarh but wanted to come here to better his chances. He did not clear the entrance examination, and was hoping to try again.
The family had not been officially informed about his death.

10. Ameek told us about the other two youth whom he knew about who shared the room. Khalid was enrolled in the second year of the BSc MLT (Lab Technician's course) at the Jamia Hamdard University.

11. Saif who is arrested had done his MA in History from a University in UP. Ameek met him when he met Atiq 10-12 days ago – he asked Saif what he wanted to do/be…Saif replied that he wanted to be a pilot- when Ameek asked him why he said that he had always been attracted from childhood when he used to see aeroplanes…

12. Zeeshan who was arrested by the police coming out of the Headlines Today office and shown as being arrested in Jhandewalan – had gone to write an entrance exam…had done a management course at IIPM(????) and had left home at 8 am that day. His father teaches at Shibli college, it is an educated family and like many others his father wanted his son to do well, go to Dubai or somewhere and earn some money, get a good job…and Zeeshan too was trying. His family members and everybody else are shocked.

13. We also got copies of a letter sent by the newly formed Indian Muslims Coordination Committee (formed for aiding in this case) to the Delhi State Minorities Commission in which they have demanded a judicial enquiry into this encounter.

14. We also have a copy of a letter sent by one student Suhaib Akhtar stating that one of his co tenants, one Mohd Rashid, s/o Shiv Murat, a research scholar in JMI was picked up on 18.09.08 by police in civil dress and had not reached the house till 20.09.08- the letter is addressed to the Lt. Governor and asks about the whereabouts of his co-tenant.

15. At the Jamia Nagar Police Station, the SHO Mohd Iqbal had gone to Court (there had been three arrests in this connection and hence he had to go to court). The Additional SHO also supposedly was not there/ did not want to speak. The FIR registered into the encounter (against the dead accused and others- we don't know contents) is no. 208/2008.
(PS Jamia Nagar- 26943227; 26945563; SHO Mohd. Iqbal- 9313609151; ACP (Sarita Vihar)- 26825588)

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