'Prosecute the officers who frame innocent people'
For 11 long years, six innocent men languished in jail charged with a heinous crime that they never committed. The trial court found them guilty for hatching the conspiracy of the attack on Akshardham Temple in Gujarat in 2002.
Gulzar Azmi, secretary, legal cell, Jamiat e Ulema Maharashtra. Pic/Sameer Mmarkande
While two were given death penalty, the other four were imprisoned for 10 years and life imprisonment. Even the High Court upheld the judgment.
It was here that the families of the accused approached the Jamiat e Ulema Maharashtra (Arshad Madani) and challenged the judgement in the Supreme Court.
(L-R) Akshardham Mandir attack case accused Maulvi Abdulla, Mufti Abdul Qayyum, Adambhal Ajmeri, Mohammed Salim and Mohammed Altaf. Pic/Satyajit Desai
“For four years, the matter was heard in the Supreme Court, after which the Court ruled that there were no grounds to convict these accused and acquitted them,” said Gulzar Azmi, secretary, Legal cell, Jamiat e Ulema Maharashtra.
On May 16, Adam Ajmeri, Mufti Abdul Qayyum Mansuri, Mohammed Salim Shaikh, Abdul Qadri and Altaf Hussain walked out of prison with their head held high, as the Supreme Court acquitted them of all charges in the conspiracy. Now, all that they want is to be compensated and have the officers who framed them prosecuted.
“According to Section 58 of POTA act, the special court, which is also called the POTA trial court, has the authority to prosecute the police officers who falsely charged the accused under the act. In addition, the court may also recover the compensation amount from the officers,” said Advocate Khalid Shaikh, who represented the accused in the case. If found guilty, the police officers can be sentenced to two years imprisonment and fined as well. The officers in this case were DG Vanjara, Sehgal, R Patel (retired) and VD Vanar.
“My life has been ruined by these officers. My family had to endure pain and hardships for 11 years for no fault of theirs,” said Ajmeri. Salim Shaikh, another accused, said, “I was tortured and beaten every day by the cops. They picked me up saying there was some problem in my passport and then framed me in this case.”
The JeUM is currently handling 48 trial cases across the country, and so far has managed to get acquittals in 20 cases. “Time and again we have seen that innocent people are picked up, tortured and locked up in prison by police officers. Years later, when the courts find them innocent and acquit them, by that time their lives have been ruined. Who will compensate them for the lost years?” added Azmi.
“Unless the officers of the law are brought to book, this dangerous trend will continue and many innocent people will languish in jails,” he Azmi.
What is Jamiat?
Jamiat Ulema was founded in Amritsar in 1919 with the objective to fight for freedom from the British. It was the first organisation that mobilised the freedom struggle at Khilafat House. It has been offering legal aid since 1947
The big cases
Jamiat e Ulema Maharashtra has been fighting cases for accused in 7/11 train blasts case, Malegaon blasts case (2006), Aurangabad Arms haul case, 13/7 Mumbai blasts case, Indian Mujahideen cases, Kolkata American Centre attack case, Haren Pandya murder trial, Mozawalla case (Official Secrets Act)