When 67 people were killed in three bomb blasts in Delhi on 28th October, 2005, three young Kashmiris were immediately arrested. Newspapers and TV channels claimed that the terrorists responsible for the killings had been caught. Now, 11 years later, a Delhi court has acquitted the three youth. They have been declared to be innocent after they had suffered unspeakable torture and imprisonment for over a decade in the prime of their lives (See Box 1). One of them had been declared to be the "mastermind", but the prosecution could not prove his involvement in the blasts.
This is not an isolated case. It is one more in a long list of people who have been punished for alleged terrorist crimes and subsequently been declared innocent.
Punishing the Innocent
Mohammad Rafiq Shah was a student of Kashmir University who was present in his classroom on the day of the blast in Delhi. Rafiq's arrest sparked three weeks of continuous shutdown of Kashmir University. The university officials vouched for his innocence.
“Yes, he was in the class and the then Vice Chancellor, Professor Wahid Ahmad, had handed over the official records and his attendance to Delhi Police. Despite this he was booked and his precious 11 years of life were ruined,” said Professor Naseem Ahmed Shah, former Head of Department of Islamic Studies at Kashmir University. Another professor said, “This is the mockery of police and justice system in India. You arrest an innocent and ruin his life. After a decade you say sorry to him. There is a need to initiate action against those police officers who implicate innocent people in false cases.”
Mohammad Hussain Fazli was a carpet weaver in Srinagar. “They beat me up in some police station here in Srinagar, and when I was taken to Delhi, I was interrogated with third degree torture,” said Fazili. When Fazili was produced before a Delhi court in November, 2005, he says he was asked to follow the directions that the police had given him. “Mujay pehle fresh kiya gaya tha,” he says, emphasising on the word ‘fresh’, which he says means torture in police language. “So I had to follow their directions and be quiet in court and pretend as if I was involved in the blasts.”
Six Muslims from Gujarat rotted in the jails for 11 years before the Supreme Court acquitted them in 2014. They had been charged by the Gujarat "counter-terrorist" commandos of having organised the terrorist attack on Akshardham temple.
Nine persons were charged for allegedly organizing terrorist attacks in Malegaon in 2006. They were held in prison for 10 years before being released for lack of evidence.
In September 2006, one year after the bomb blasts in Sarojini Nagar, Delhi, Parvez Ahmed Radoo, a student from Kashmir was arrested by an "anti terrorist" squad of the Delhi Police. He was arrested at Delhi airport while on his way to Pune to pursue a doctorate degree in a university there. He was accused of planning terrorist attacks during Diwali. He spent seven years in Tihar jail before being found innocent and released.
All these facts show that branding innocent people as terrorists and punishing them is not an exception but part of the unstated policy of the Indian State. Secretly organising terrorist acts and arresting innocent people as suspected terrorists are all part and parcel of state terrorism
Since the decade of the eighties, an elaborate apparatus of state terrorism has been created in our country. This apparatus ensures that terrorist acts regularly take place and provide justification for arresting whoever the ruling class chooses to target. The State has trained and armed terrorist groups in Kashmir, Assam, Punjab, Manipur and various other parts of the country. Special commandos and so-called anti-terror units have been created, trained in secretly organizing terrorist acts and carrying out fake encounters. As soon as a terror strike takes place, the disinformation wing goes into action, putting the blame for the crime on this or that group allegedly backed by Pakistan.
The intelligence agencies of the State have many people in their custody, who are used for carrying out terrorist attacks. They are killed when they have served the purpose of the state, in order to get rid of the evidence. This has been the experience of people in Punjab, Assam, Kashmir, Manipur and other places.
To show everyone that the State is in serious pursuit of the terrorists, the “anti-terrorism” squads periodically kill innocent youth in fake encounters. They arrest innocent persons, claiming they have evidence to prove their guilt. By the time such lies are exposed, many innocent people have died and many more suffered years of imprisonment.
It is not the people and their beliefs, nor some fanatical groups that are responsible for terrorism; nor is Pakistan behind every terror attack, as is claimed by the Indian ruling class. It is the Indian state which is the principal organiser of terrorist attacks in different parts of the country.
Terrorism has been used by the State to discredit the just struggles of oppressed people in the North East and Kashmir against army rule and for their national rights. Terrorism has been a tool of the ruling class to inflame communal passions and sow suspicion against particular communities, so as to divide the people and divert them from the real source of their problems, which is the rule of the big bourgeoisie.
In the decade of the eighties, every terrorist act anywhere in India was blamed on people of the Sikh faith. Since the demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992, terrorist acts in different parts of India are blamed on people of Muslim faith.
Covert organizing of terrorist crimes and open aggressive and repressive measures in the name of fighting terrorism has become standard operating procedurefor the American, British, and other capitalist-imperialist states. The Indian state has adopted this to advance the interests of the Indian big bourgeoisie.
The Indian big bourgeoisie is pursuing its imperialist ambitions through the program of globalisation through liberalisation and privatisation. State terrorism in the name of fighting terrorism has become one of its most preferred weapons to smash the resistance of the working class and people to its anti worker, anti peasant, anti social and anti national course.
The escalation of individual and state terrorism in our country coincides with the period when the stability of the political power of the big capitalists has been shaken. Escalation of communal and sectarian violence alongside bomb blasts and state terrorism has occurred precisely when the ruling class could not continue to rule in the old way.
Considering the entire experience of the past 67 years since the end of British colonial rule, it is clear that the violence of the State against citizens has only grown from bad to worse. Not only the people of the North East and Kashmir, the list of the victims of state terror has now expanded to include the Sikhs in Punjab, Delhi and elsewhere, Muslims in Gujarat, UP and elsewhere, Christians and adivasis in various regions. This shows that the root of the problem lies in the very foundation of the State we inherited in 1947.
The existing State is a continuation and further evolution of the colonial state. It is an instrument of divide and rule, an organ of oppression and terror, of rule by an exploiting minority class through the ballot and the bullet.
From ancient times, people in this subcontinent have upheld the political principle that it is the duty of the raja to ensure prosperity and protection for the praja. Without protection, or raksha, prosperity is not possible. If a raja fails in this duty, if he oppresses the praja instead of providing raksha, it was considered to be the right and duty of the praja to get rid of such a raja.
Life experience has shown that the existing State is an instrument of oppression and terror. It will never ensure the protection of all citizens. We therefore have the right and the duty to get rid of this State and replace it with a new State that would guarantee prosperity and protection for all.