The son of one of the three people killed by Gujarat Police in “fake encounter”, as concluded by a Supreme Court-appointed probe panel, on Saturday said he has little hope left for justice, coming as it does days after acquittal of the accused in Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Tulsiram Prajapati encounters.
“It (probe report) doesn’t make any difference to us. We all saw what happened in Sohrabuddin and Prajapati cases — everyone got acquitted. I have no hope from any one except the Almighty,” said Mehboob, son of Haji Ismail, who was killed in an encounter in Jamnagar, Gujarat, in October 2005.
Besides Ismail, inquiry by retired Supreme Court judge H S Bedi found the deaths of Samir Pathan, in October 2002, and Kasim Jafer, in 2006, as resulting from fake encounters.
“There was pressure from people in authority to not pursue the case of my father’s killing,” Mehboob said over phone.
At Jam Salaya, in Jamnagar district, where he is settled, Mehboob runs a small ice-making factory. His elder brother Hanif works in Mumbai, and the younger sibling, Habib, lives with Mehboob.
‘Killed my son, destroyed me’
Justice Bedi’s report found Samir Khan Pathan’s death on October 22, 2002 a “cold-blooded murder”. He was killed in an encounter by a group of Ahmedabad Detection of Crime Branch officers, led by DCP D G Vanzara and Joint CP P P Pandey. The police called him a Jaish-e-Mohammed operative who had ostensibly received arms training in Pakistan and was part of a plot to kill then Gujarat CM Narendra Modi.
On Saturday, Pathan’s father Sarfaraz Khan, 68, said, “Mere bachche ko trasvadi bata ke maar daala aur mujhe terrorist ka baap bana ke barbaad kar diya. Meri naukari chali gayee… (They killed my son, calling him a terrorist and destroyed me, branding me as father of a terrorist. I lost my job…).”
In 2002, Sarfaraz worked as a driver with Ahmedabad Municipal Transport Service and earned around Rs 18,000 per month. “For the next 10 days (after encounter), policemen would come home and take me to police station at odd hours. They kept me waiting for hours at night. I failed to get to work on time and in less then two weeks, I was dismissed. They (higher-ups at AMTS) told me that I was father of a terrorist,” Sarfaraz said. He had worked for 28 years, Sarfaraz said, but was denied pension, and given half-gratuity and provident fund.
13 years of hardship
Mumbai resident Mariam Bibi, 40, also thanks the likes of Yagnik, activist Teesta Setalvad and Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan. “I have seen this day due to their selfless contribution,” she told The Sunday Express over phone from Mumbai.
In April 2006, her husband Kasim Jafar was found dead by the road, hours after he was detained by police. The police reported it a case of death in road accident. Jafer had come with 17 others on a pilgrimage to Husseini Tekri in Ahmedabad.
According to Justice Bedi’s report, a police team took them to Shahibaug in private vehicles for questioning about a criminal gang. After Jafer asked why they were detained, irate policemen dragged him away, the report notes.
Police said a constable was taking Jafer to the office of then sub-inspector J M Bharwad (now DSP) when Jafer asked for water and was left at a water tap. The constable returned to find Jafer missing. His body was found later.
The report says the police tried to cover up the encounter by claiming Jafer died in an accident.