New Delhi/Assam: Meet Md. Hanif, an “ISI agent,” from Khajuri area of New Delhi. According to Assam police he is an ISI agent, although this hasn’t yet been proved in the court in Assam because there is no witness, nor is there any evidence against him; but in the eyes of the police he has all the qualities which make him an easy scapegoat to be implicated: poor, defenseless, vulnerable with relatives in Pakistan whom he had visited once, on top of that an Indian Muslim, a deadly combination indeed.
What had happened?
The story of Md. Hanif is the story of an innocent person being falsely implicated in a terror case, then systematic harassment of the poor man who can’t even afford a lawyer. Life of Md. Hanif, s/o Babu Khan, a resident of Jewar in Noida district of Utter Pradesh, used to be all right until the night of July 13th 2005, when he was picked up by the UP police and was brutally tortured for an entire week. He was told that he was an “ISI agent” who was involved in taking out some “sensitive” documents from the Army Camp, Tezpur, Assam to hand them over to Pakistani intelligence officers based in New Delhi.
Hanif broke down talking about his torture
Hanif broke down while talking to TwoCircles.net about the week-long brutal torture in police custody which involved some “third degree” methods of torture also. “I still feel pain in my both legs because they used to torture me like animals,” Hanif said.
He told TCN that after the torture, the senior police officers of UP police who were interrogating him asked their junior officers to leave Hanif as he was not the person they were looking for. But the junior officers asked Hanif to “name some rich Muslims” whom the police could arrest on the pretext of being a terrorist and extract money from them, something which poor Hanif refused to do because he didn’t know any rich Muslim and also because of the fact that it would have been “wrong.”
The refusal on Hanif’s part to obey the junior police officers made them furious and they reportedly sent his name as one of the accused in the case which originally belonged to Assam. The main accused in the case is Hanif’s namesake, Md. Hanif Khan who was in 2005 serving in the Indian Army in Tezpur division.
For around six months the innocent Hanif flurried between jails in Assam and Tihar jail in New Delhi. It was only after six months, in November 2005, after paying huge money, this poor tailor managed to get bail.
Md. Hanif with his family
Story of extreme poverty and trauma
But Hanif’s problem had just started after his release on bail. He and his family literally came on road because Hanif’s father had to sell his house to save his son and get a bail for him. Besides the extreme poverty, the charge of being a terrorist by the society and the mental torture added his trauma. At present Hanif is living the life of anonymity because he doesn’t get a room on rent if people come to know that he is being tried in a “terror’ case.
When TCN visited Hanif’s small house which had just one room with barely enough space for five people – he, his wife Farida and three daughters – he was quite scared that his room owner might come to know about this terror case and ask his family to leave. He has already been asked to vacate the houses where his family used to stay by his four room owners in earlier occasions.
Needs financial and legal help
At present stage, he is in an urgent need of financial and legal help for his case which is currently going on in the sessions court in Assam. His lawyer left his case because Hanif was unable to pay the minimum amount of 500 Rs. per hearing. P Kotoki, the “kind” lawyer who knows about Hanif’s case, told TCN that ‘the case is very weak against Hanif and there is hardly any evidence and witness against him.’
He suggested Hanif to write a letter to the chief justice of the Assam High Court for his case to be expedited.
The long delays in this case as the case is pending since last 5 years has financially overstretched Hanif and he is under huge debt because every month he has to go to Assam which involves at least Rs 2-3 thousand of expenses as he pointed out. Hanif hasn’t got justice yet but just “dates after dates”; sometimes he has to go to Assam twice a month. Interestingly, out of 8 accused in his case, 4 managed to get free with the help of bribe in the lower court, he alleged.
L-R: Hanif's wife, Farida with daughters Ayesha in her lap and Sana and Fatma
Because of the above mentioned situation Hanif is going through depression and has attempted suicide in the past, informed Farida, Hanif’s wife. Talking about her tribulations because of the case, she said that at present her daughters don’t go to school because she doesn’t have money to pay for their fees.
“Will we go to school, mother?” asked Fatma when she heard her mother talking some thing related to school. Fatma’s twinkling eyes were in stark contrast to Hanif’s hopeless gaze towards his daughter.
In the case of Hanif, Senior Supreme Court lawyer, Prashant Bhushan sees a pattern. Hanif’s case is “not new, there must be hundreds of cases like this where poor, innocent and defenseless Muslims are falsely implicated in terror cases and remain in jail without any trial for years,” Bhushan told TCN.
He finds, “communalization of Indian police and intelligence agencies,” the reason behind this kind of disturbing pattern. According Bhushan, “the only possible solution to deal with these cases is constitution of high powered panel empowered to withdraw terror charges.” He also advocates punishment to the concerned police officers in case any alleged terror suspect is found to be innocent.