Alleged Laskhar-e-Toiba ‘bomb expert’, 73-year old Abdul Karim Tunda, who was arrested by Indian police officials in 2013, and had been named in terror-related cases from 1994 to the 2011 Mumbai attack, was recently discharged by a Delhi court in the TADA case of 1994. He will however stay in jail since other cases are pending against him. Tunda, who had been called a ‘major catch’ by Indian security agencies, and whose ‘involvement’ in ‘Muslim terrorism’ was painstakingly detailed by some journalists known to have veritable access to interrogation chambers and who then rather imaginatively recreated the profile and crime, becomes another addition to the growing list of Muslims charged of serious crimes being let off by courts after years. In almost all instances, neither have officials of law enforcement and intelligence agencies in India been taken to task for such false implication of innocents and neither has any action been taken against de facto facilitators of this travesty of justice from the media. There has also been no action on calls to provide compensation to these innocents for spending years in gaol – sometimes as long as 14 years – and then being ‘found’ to be innocent. This is, in a phrase, a damning indictment of the rank communalisation of the Indian law enforcement and judicial establishment.
There are hundreds of such cases and, in fact, a 2015 National Crime Records Bureau report, on the general situation in prisons, had pointed out that while Muslims comprised around 14% of the population of India, they constituted around 26% of the prison population. Activists had then, as before and afterwards, pointed out that this was indicative of the utterly prejudiced, anti-minority system prevalent in India. Of course, there is no real comparison with Kashmir; here, far worse crimes committed by Indian security forces have gone unpunished. And that is because that impunity is in-built, and an integral part, of the very structure of ‘governance’. But there is one clear link: no nation can continue to perpetrate crimes in so-called ‘dark zones’ like Kashmir and escape the ramifications itself.
When Kashmir is treated as a killing ground, and basic laws and supposed guidelines (and, remember, there are laws governing wars and how people must be treated, in terms of what weapons can be used to what the responsibility towards unarmed civilians is) are destroyed, that, in turn, begins to result in the trampling of rights of people elsewhere. That should be an elementary lesson.