By Zakir Hussain
A Gujarat court’s decision to award capital punishment to 38 Muslims have sent shockwaves in the community. Six of them are from Uttar Pradesh’s Azamgarh district. People like me believe that they were are common young men, struggling for their bright future but one fine day, they were caught by the police and put on a 13-year long trial.
We hope these people will get justice sooner or later as happened in 2002 Akshardham Temple case when Supreme Court acquited all six Muslims in terror attack case.
Abul Bashar belongs to a lower middle class family in Azamgarh’s Benapara village. His father Abu Bakar used to teach at a primary Islamic school, also called Maktab, at a very meagre salary. Bashar had no criminal records before his arrest and people had good opinions about him.
Another person subjected to death penalty is Mohammad Saif. He is from Azamgarh’s Sanjarpur village. Before his arrest, the one thing he was passionate about and known for in the area was cricket. He also had dreams to get education and uplift his family and society. He had come to Delhi to realise those dreams.
But he was caught in police raid conducted in Batla House in 2008. He was injured by a bullet in his leg in the police action, in which another two youngsters – Atif and Sajid – were killed. Saif was arrested from the site.
The 2008 police encounter also known as Batla House encounter remain one of the mysterious incidents in history of independent India, just because no judicial inquiry was carried out over the same. This incident, which seems a well-planned conspiracy, was used to justify large scale arrest of Muslims across the country. This incident and its aftermaths continue to haunt Muslims till today.
So, we want a fair and an impartial judicial inquiry into the Balta House encounter, so that the truth comes out and innocents are freed from persecution.
It is extremely saddening that the system, which has put so many Muslim youths on death row, has failed to convict Pragya Sing Thakur and let her sit in the parliament. The bias is pretty clear.
(The writer is an activist based in Azamgarh)