STF Terror in UP: Communal Witch-Hunt

In the name of nabbing those guilty of blasts at Varanasi or the serial blasts in Courts in the State on 23 November 2007, a communal witch-hunt is being whipped up in UP, and the victims are innocent young Muslim men; both those living inside UP and outside. The PUHR in UP along with the Delhi-based Young Journalists’ Association had undertaken several fact-finding trips to places where so-called terrorists have been arrested, and held People’s tribunals and People’s Courts at Allahabad, Jaunpur and Kunda in order to bring the truth to light through testimonies of the affected families.

On 22 December, the STF claimed to have arrested two terrorists – Tariq Kasmi and Khaled Mujahid – at Barabanki railway station with RDX, Pakistani phone numbers, maps, etc... Tariq, they claimed, was the HUJI Chief of UP. Based on information provided by Tariq and Khaled, they claimed to have nabbed the ‘master mind’ of the serial blasts – ‘Raju Bangali’ (Aftab Ansari) – as well as two Kashmiri youths from Kishtwad in Jammu. We already know that the ‘master mind’, Aftab Ansari, proved to be quite innocent and was exonerated within a mere 22 days (see Liberation, March 2008)!

24-year-old Tariq Kasmi, a hakim by profession, was picked up in broad daylight off the street on 12 December 2007 between 12.30-1 in the afternoon, and whisked away in a white Sumo without a number plate. The police refused to lodge an FIR of abduction, only of ‘missing person’. The police eventually claimed to have arrested Tariq and Khaled on 22 December from Barabanki station, but admit that no public witnesses were available from the crowded railway station; only police witnesses. In a letter sent from Lucknow jail through his relatives, Tariq tells of communal abuse and threats of ‘encounter’ killing.

29-year-old Khaled Mujahid was picked up on 16 December near his own home in Madiyahun (Jaunpur) while he was eating chaat at a shop. In the Jan Adalat held by PUHR at Jaunpur on 15 April, many local people came forward to testify that they had witnessed Khaled being picked up in front of their eyes on 16 December at the chaat shop.

Khaled had lodged complaints with the local thana, NHRC, DM, SP and DIG of being watched for 6 months. After Khaled’s arrest, local papers quoted police officials saying that IB had been watching Khaled for 6 months. The question is: how could Khaled have managed to bomb Courts in November if he had been so closely watched by the IB?

In a letter written from Lucknow jail, Khaled said he was threatened with an ‘encounter’ killing, to avoid which he agreed to confess to involvement in the blasts. He was stripped naked, hung upside down and beaten, and asked to name any Kashmiri whom he knew. He named Sajjad, a former classmate at Deoband.

The climax of the STF script was the arrest of Sajjad ‘Kashmiri’ and Tariq ‘Kashmiri’ (their actual names are Sajjadur-rahman Wani and Mohd. Akhtar Wani and neither use the tag ‘Kashmiri’, but both were beaten into declaring that name in front of the media). Perhaps the STF felt that no terrorism story could be complete minus some Kashmiri villains. Sajjad, son of a poor worker, was arrested from his village in Kishtvad district of Jammu on 22 December. He writes that Khaled apologised to him when he met him in Lucknow jail, for having given his name to the STF.

The stories peddled by the Special Task Force (STF), intelligence agencies and police are riddled with gaping holes: yet the terror continues and innocent young men suffer degradation and torture in jail and the stigma of being branded ‘terrorist’.

Liberation Archive