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Report on The Jamia ’Encounter’ by Jan Hastakshep, Campaign against Fascist Designs and PUDR

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Report on The Jamia ’Encounter’

by Jan Hastakshep, Campaign against Fascist Designs and PUDR

26 September 2008

Released to the Press on 26 September, 2008 at a Press Conference in
New Delhi

A fact finding team constituted by Janhastakshep, Campaign against
Fascist Designs and People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) went
to look into the issues being raised in context to alleged an
encounter at Batla House, Jamia Nagar on September 19, 2008. Members
of the team were, Dr. N.K. Bhattacharya retd. Principal of a Delhi
University College, Shahana Bhattacharya of Delhi University, Dr. Ish
Misra, Delhi University, Prashant Bhusan, Advocate Supreme Court, Mr.
N. D. Pancholi, Advocate, Delhi High Court, and Ms. Shreerekha, a
teacher in Jamia Milia Islamia. The team was accompanied by Prof. Mir
Imtiaz of Jamia Milia Islamia.

Some of the findings of the Fact finding exercise undertaken on
September 21, 2008

1. L-18 Batla house, the scene of the two ‘encounter’ killings of
Atif and Sajid, is a four storied building with two flats on each
floor and a single stairwell. There is only one entrance to the
building. All the other spaces are grilled and cannot be used to get
out of the building. The building is abutted on the left and right by
two buildings which are only about two floors high. There is a narrow
lane to the front and an even narrower lane at the back.

2. Documentary evidence proves that Atif had submitted his correct
details to the police in a tenant verification form duly received by
the police on August 21, 2008. The form is a printed form which has
been countersigned and bears the seal of the Jamia Nagar police
station. The form also has his correct mobile phone number.

3. The shooting seems to have begun at around 11 AM, Eyewitnesses
state that the regular police arrived about fifteen minutes
thereafter, and the media arrived five to ten minutes after the
police arriving, by which time the area had already been cordoned off.

4. The police did not show anyone the faces of the victims of the
‘encounter’ killings. Neither have they allowed the media access to
the scene of the crime which has been sealed. By the time the media
arrived, Mohan Chand Sharma had apparently already been carried down
four floors of stairs with wounds, which eventually proved fatal.
There seems to be a photograph of a conscious M.C.Sharma being
carried out of the building by two of his aides showing some
bleeding. People who saw him a few meters ahead, however, state that
he was bleeding profusely when he was being carried past the
Khaliullah Masjid in the vicinity.

5. Zeeshan who also shared the flat was writing the IIPM entrance
test at the time of the alleged encounter and was arrested later in
the night of 19 September from the Head Lines today studios at
Jhandelwalan, soon after he had given an interview at the television
studio which was partially aired. As he was coming out of the
television channel’s office he was arrested by the police. He too is
being called a terrorist.

Questions Regarding the Police version

1. How many masterminds are there? A succession of organizations such
as the HUJI, SIMI and the IM have already been named by different
State police as the organizations responsible for the blasts that
have taken place in Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Delhi and the bomb scare in
Surat. Atif suddenly becomes the new mastermind of all the blasts
after a succession of other masterminds such as Abu Bashir, Tauqeer,
etc. His name was never mentioned earlier, not even a few days ago
when the sketches of the Delhi Bombers were released.

2. When did the police get to know that they were terrorists? If they
knew before they entered, why did they not seal the exit to the
building and ask the alleged terrorists to surrender without going in?

3. If the Special Cell knew that they were terrorists why was
M.C.Sharma not wearing a bullet proof vest if the Special Cell was
going to arrest/apprehend dreaded terrorists?

4. If the Special cell did not know that they were terrorists before
they entered, how did they claim soon thereafter that these were the
terrorists and mastermind behind the blasts without even the
opportunity of an interrogation of the person arrested and a thorough
investigation of the evidence from the scene of the alleged encounter?

5. Could two persons have escaped, considering there are no escape
routes save one which was the entrance from which the STF entered
heavily armed?

6. If they were truly the terrorists behind the bombings they would
surely not have given their correct personal details in a tenant
verification form to the police on the 21st of August, 2008, just
after the Ahmedabad Blasts and before the Delhi Blasts.

7. The Special Cell now claims that the verification form is forged,
despite the fact that it is countersigned and bears the seal of the
Jamia Nagar Police Station. However these documents were handed over
to the media by the caretaker of the apartment within two hours of
the alleged encounters and hence he did not have enough time to have
carried out such a forgery.

8. As per news reports the police has so far not carried out a Test
Identification Parade by eyewitnesses who claim to have seen those
responsible for the Delhi bomb blasts? Was a TIP done before the
burial of the two boys who were shot dead? Has the police tried to
match the sketches of the accused made at the time with those being
arrested? What are the results of such efforts if they have been made?

9. In view of the continuing speculation and controversies
surrounding the ‘encounter’ and a version of the postmortem reports
being discussed by the press, why have the post-mortem reports of the
two youths and the policeman who were killed in the house not been
made available to their families and to the public?

10. Has an FIR been lodged or investigation launched into the
incident of the ‘encounter’ itself? *

*This is what the law requires. NHRC guidelines on encounter killings
clearly state “That when information is received that death was
caused in an encounter as a result of firing by the police, prima
facie the ingredients of culpable homicide under section 299 of the
IPC are satisfied. That is sufficient to suspect that an offence of
culpable homicide has been committed.”

11. Since, according to the press statement issued by Holy Family
Hospital on September 19, 2008, X rays of the chest and abdomen of
M.C.Sharma had “not revealed any foreign bodies”, what has happened
to the bullets fired on him? have they been collected from the scene
and sent for forensic analysis?

Preliminary Conclusions

1. The version of the police that they had learnt that these youths
were behind the Delhi Blasts when they went in to arrest them is
clearly false since, in that case, Inspector Sharma, and his team who
were experienced policemen from the Special Cell and had in fact been
involved in several lethal encounters in the past would not have
entered the premises at all and certainly not without bullet proof
vests.

2. The police gave the version of these youths being the terrorists
behind the Delhi, Ahmedabad and Jaipur blasts and of Atif being the
mastermind to the media soon after the alleged encounter. Till this
point the police had not had the time to interrogate Saif, who had
been arrested, or to thoroughly investigate the laptops recovered
from the scene of the incident etc. and hence had no actionable
information on the basis of which to make such claims. Therefore the
police version that they were the terrorists behind the blasts with
Atif as the mastermind clearly seems to be a story concocted by the
Special Cell before they went to pick up these people.

3. The story of 2 people escaping from the building is an utter lie.

4. The subsequent picking up of Zia ur Rahman, the caretaker’s son,
and of Shakeel and others on the pretext that they were also involved
in this conspiracy is highly dubious and smacks of vindictiveness
against individuals who came out with statements and evidence that
contradicted the police version.

5. The claim of the police that the tenant verification form, handed
over to the media by the caretaker, Rahman, only a couple of hours
after the incident, is forged, is not at all credible. There appears
no reason for Rahman to have forged such a form and kept it with him
in advance, and there was certainly no time for him to have forged
the papers and handed them to the media soon after the incident.

6. Saquib Nisar, who the police claim provided logistical support for
the serial blasts in Ahmedabad and the bomb scare in Surat, was
taking an MBA examination from July 23 to July 28, 2008. Copies of
his admit card and exam sheets signed by the examiners are available.

7. None of the accused who are alive and arrested have legal
representation or counsel. Moreover the police have been releasing
information supposedly procured from them during interrogation to the
media. This further adversely affects their chances of justice.

Recommendations

1. It is imperative that an independent, time bound comprehensive
probe has to be carried out by a sitting Judge of the Supreme Court
of India into this incident and the claims of the police, to answer
these questions. In any case, the NHRC guidelines on encounter
killings require such an investigation.

2. The continuing random arrests and harassment of residents of Jamia
Nagar and students of Jamia University since the time of the Delhi
blasts and particularly after the alleged encounter must stop
immediately.

3. The competition among various police agencies to claim credit for
arresting dreaded terrorists and masterminds is resulting in the
targeting of innocent Muslim youth. This must stop immediately. It
appears that after making SIMI the scapegoat, the police has now
shifted focus to Azamgarh which is being dubbed the nursery of
terrorism. This targeting and victimisation of young Muslim boys from
Azamgarh or those who may have been members of SIMI in the past, as
terrorists involved in the blasts, has led to an enormous sense of
insecurity, fear and resentment in the Muslim community of the
country in general and young Muslim boys from Azamgarh or those who
may have been members of SIMI, in particular.

4. It is very unfortunate and disquieting that significant sections
of the mainstream media, particularly the electronic media, has been
uncritically amplifying the successive absurd stories and concoctions
of the police, built only on supposed confessions made before the
Police. This has not only defamed a large number of apparently
innocent people but is also encouraging rapid communalisation and
polarisation of people in the country.

SIGNED

Dr. NK Bhattacharya

JAN HASTAKSHEP and PUDR