Wednesday, July 26, 2017
NEW DELHI: Democratic India, still looking for justice in hundreds of encounter cases, is now grappling with yet another incident of five Muslim youths being shot dead by the Telangana police en route from jail to the trial courts.
“My son has been murdered. We demand a fair investigation into this horrifying killing,” Mohammed Ahmed, father of Mohammed Vikaruddin, one of the five youths killed by the Telangana police said.
“With a heavy heart I saw pictures of my dead son circulating in the media. He is shown handcuffed and soaked in blood. How can a man who is handcuffed to his chair become a threat to the life of another?” he asked.
Photographs of the crime show the bloodied bodies of the men in handcuffs, with weapons placed in their hands, propped up in the vehicles that were taking them from jail to the courts. Some of them had their hands still tied to the seats.
The relatives of the boys, whose families say they had anticipated the worst since the arrest, refused to take the bodies for the last rites until a high level probe was announced by the state,
Civil rights organisations have demanded an enquiry. As have opposition leaders and political parties. The CPI(M) Politburo, first off the mark on the issue denounced “ the shooting in cold blood of five undertrial prisoners by the police in Telangana. These five young prisoners were being taken to court from Warrangal jail to Hyderabad. Midway they were shot inside the police van in what seems to be a staged encounter.These premeditated killings seem to be an act of revenge for the deaths of two police personnel in an earlier encounter with some former SIMI activists.These brazen murders in police custody cannot be swept under the carpet. There has to be a high level enquiry into the incident and exemplary action taken against the guilty police officials.”
“I was confident my son, along with others, was going to get acquitted. The trial had reached its final stage. Police in desperation killed them all,” Vikar’s father said at a press conference arranged by civil rights activists in Hyderabad. He said that he had given several representations to the authorities experessing concern over threats to the life of his son.
Imtiyaz Ali, brother of another victim Amjed Ali, said, “If my brother was guilty of crimes as police has accused him of, why didn’t they allow him to complete the trial and let the court decide his fate?
"Police killed him and others as they knew they were not guilty. Police didn’t work for justice they worked in vengeance.Telangana police has manifested their failure as a law enforcing agency by orchestrating this encounter murders,” he added.
The police claimed that they opened fire when one of the accused allegeldy tried to snatch a weapon from them near Pemburti in Jangaon mandal of Warangal district."They tried to snatch weapons from police and raised slogans. In the scuffle, there was an exchange of fire in which five accused were killed," Deputy Inspector General of Police Malla Reddy said.
Those killed are Mohammed Viqaruddin, Mohammed Haneef, Amjed Ali, Riyaz Khan all from Hyderabad and Izhar Khan from Uttar Pradesh. They were accused by the police of forming a militant organisation. They were arrested in 2010 and shifted to Warangal jail in 2011.
Their case was today listed for hearing at 7th Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge where their two lawyers Abdul Azeem and Khalid Saifullah were waiting for them to arrive. The advocates said that the encounter was fake, and they had shared apprehensions of the same earlier. Abzul Azeem said at a press conference, “This has come when the trial was about to be finished and we were sure of their acquittal. This is moment of shock for us and their families.”
Azeem recalled an earlier incident involving the same accused.“There was an incident earlier where jail shifting squad of police stopped the vehicle in the middle of the highway and asked them to run. When my clients refused they forced them and beat them up. We feared police was trying to orchestrate an encounter,” he said pointing out that all this was part of the court records.
“The trial of their case is going on in Hyderabad, the only reason they were shifted to Warangal prison by the police to get a chance to dump them whenever they require,” Azeem said. “Police knew they would be acquitted so as per their plan they killed them in cold blood, scripting a stupid story,”he added.
Advocate Khalid Saifullah said there was no doubt that his clients were killed in a fake encounter. “Over a dozen police officers are present in the sifting squad, it is beyond any logic that five handcuffed men could become a threat. Visuals of the encounter site clearly shows they were handcuffed and in the police vehicle. They were killed in cold blood.”
The incident followed a reported gunfight in Nalgonda district in which two alleged members of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and three policemen were killed.
Khalid said that the police had killed the five youth now, “trying to portray this as their style of retaliation, but police should understand that this kind of irresponsible acts will give a message to the public at large that police is not for justice but it stands for vengeance.”
Local activists have stepped in support of the families. Jeevan Kumar, a well known human rights campaigner told The Citizen, that the killing of the five Muslim youth was a “vengeful act. it was a deliberate contemplative act.” Latheef Mohammad Khan, the convener of the Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee demanded a judicial probe to set up by the Chief Justice of the High Court."Just look at the pictures and it is evident that it was not a genuine encounter,” he said.