Coming straight to the nub of the matter, let me begin by first and foremost expressing my profound dismay and utmost dejection to learn that Mohammad Amir Khan was long incarcerated in prison for 14 years on terror charges even though he was later acquitted. Not me nor anyone else except the person who has been “wrongly framed” as a “terrorist” can understand the horrendous pain and irreparable loss suffered to his reputation and normal living as well as his whole family. I have no words to express my feelings when I learn of such cases.
Let me be forthright in saying that every Indian must learn patriotism from Mohammad Amir Khan. Even after losing his father who felt heart broken when everyone in society used to mock him as “father of terrorist” and even after his mother too becoming paralysed due to shock and trauma and later dying and he himself being incarcerated for 14 long years in prison and that too in his prime age from 18 to 32, he still swears by India and feels proud to be an Indian. He never raised anti-India slogans unlike what we saw sometime back in JNU campus where educated Indians were chanting slogans in support of Afzal Guru and decrying India. They were openly shouting “Bharat teri barbadi tak jung ladenge, jung ladenge. Ek nahin do nahin hazaar tukde karenge bharat tere. Afzal tere hatyare abhi zinda hain hum sharminda hain hum sharminda hain etc”. They all must study what happened with Mohammad Amir Khan who inspite of all his untold and unending sufferings still feels proud to call himself an Indian and must imbibe some love for their motherland just like Mohammad Amir Khan!
Truth be told, in a deeply touching book which he wrote with Nandita Haksar titled “Framed As A Terrorist: My 14-Year Struggle To Prove My Innocence”, he describes how when he was 20, one late-winter evening in February 1998, in a by-lane of Old Delhi which was close to his home, he was picked up by plainclothes policemen, and driven to a torture chamber. He recounted his most harrowing experiences of days and nights of most brutal torture: He was stripped naked, his legs stretched to extremes, boxed, kicked, subject to electric shocks, anti-Muslim abuse and threats to frame his parents. He finally succumbed and agreed to sign numerous blank sheets and diaries. As a result, he was charged in 19 cases of terror crimes.
It needs no rocket scientist to conclude that if the police had damning proof of his involvement in terror cases, it would not have taken 14 long years to prove it. More importantly, Mohammad Amir would not have been exonerated in 18 of 20 cases if he was actually a terrorist. Those guilty of wrongly framing him as a terrorist deserve the most strictest punishment on earth. They have ruined his whole life and are also responsible for the untimely death of his parents as a result of the mental shock which they suffered due to him being wrongly labelled a terrorist!
While craving for the exclusive indulgence of my esteemed readers, let me inform them that observing that the actions of the state authorities took away “14 prime and precious years” of a man’s life, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has recommended that the Delhi government pay Rs 5 lakh as interim relief to Mohammad Amir Khan – incarcerated since he was 18 – who was acquitted in cases of terror. This amount is a very small amount for the terrible sufferings, worst torture and irreparable loss that he suffered in last 14 years and even thereafter till now. He should have been awarded at least Rs 5 crore. But better something than nothing!
For my esteemed readers exclusive benefit, let me also inform them that in an order dated November 8, 2016, the NHRC noted that the Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), Vigilance, had forwarded an inquiry report to the NHRC, stating that Amir Khan was arrested in cases related to a series of bomb blasts in Delhi and its adjoining states in 1996-1997. The DCP said Khan was convicted in two cases and appeals against his acquittal in two other cases were pending before the Delhi High Court. But NHRC was not convinced by what the DCP stated.
As it turned out, the NHRC order said very categorically that, “The reply to the showcause notice is not based on merits. The notice was issued on the point of acquittal of the victim in 18 cases by the courts and long incarceration of the victims in prison. The commission is not concerned with appeals pending in two cases. The fact is the victim had to spend 14 years in prison for no reason, violating his rights. The commission finds no merits in the report of the DCP, Vigilance, and recommends that Rs 5,00,000 as interim relief be paid to him.” The NHRC also noted that, “The victim has been acquitted in 18 of 20 cases by astonishing acknowledgement of lack of evidence.” This is most astounding, to say the least.
Let me be direct in saying: All those police officers and cops who were involved in any manner in framing wrongly terror charges on him must be publicly named and tried for implicating an innocent person as “terrorist”. Under no circumstances should they be allowed to escape scot free. A very strong and loud message must go out: Those cops and police officers who dare to wrongly frame an innocent as terrorist would have to give huge damage as compensation to the person wrongly framed as terrorist and would have to land behind bars for the rest of their life. But most unfortunately, we don’t see any such thing happening in India which alone explains why many times we find that an innocent like Mohammad Amir Khan is wrongly framed as terrorist.
Be it noted, Amir Khan, who has been trying to stitch his life together since his release in 2012 said if the NHRC’s recommendation is implemented, this would be the first time that he will receive financial assistance from the government. Amir Khan also said that, “I welcome the decision. Financial assistance would help rebuild my life. But what I need more is a job to support my family. A job will restore my dignity and respect in society. I once dreamt of being a pilot but I could not complete my studies.” Most tragic and most disappointing! No money, no award and no honour can ever in life compensate him for the irreparable loss and untold sufferings that he wrongly suffered and still he feels proud to be an Indian! India needs many more Indians like him and they must be given the highest award for expressing solidarity with India inspite of undergoing untold sufferings and losing his parents and everything else instead of waving Pakistani flags and chanting anti-India slogans as we saw in JNU and keep seeing in Kashmir Valley!
In hindsight, it can be said that great injustice has been done with Mohammad Amir Khan which cannot be compensated by any Bharat Ratna or crores of rupees or anything else. An NHRC official said that, “Implicating innocent persons would not only go against justice and the rule of law, but also lead to culprits’ escape. During incarceration, the victims suffered the death of his father. His mother became paralysed due to shock and trauma and later died.” He also said that, “We will send a reminder to the government.” It also took note of the conduct certificate Khan was given by the jailor, District Jail, Ghaziabad. Commission officials said the Delhi government was asked to submit proof of payment . The six weeks were over on December 29, 2016.
Let me bring out here that his father – Hashim Khan as long as he was alive was present at every hearing. Amir recalls how “Abbu arrived before the courts opened. He went straight to the typists who sit in rows outside the lawyers chambers…He came early so he could get his applications typed…for permission to meet me in the lock up… to give me home-made food…Armed with his application Abbu made his way through the crowds to the court where my case would came up… to catch a glimpse of me”. The police continued to harass his parents, money for lawyers ran out, none came forward for help, as they were stigmatized as parents of a terrorist. This left his father completely heart broken!
Let me also bring out here that on one hearing in 2001, the Judge noticed that his father was absent, and the policeman explained that he was in hospital. The Judge permitted him to see his father for an hour. Surrounded by tubes, Abbu’s first words to him were: “I could not come to your hearing”. Amir recalled how much he was worried for him, but was satisfied that by then he had been acquitted in 11 of the 19 cases. It was in courts week later that he was informed that his father had died. His father was most hurt when all his neighbours mocked at him for being the “father of a terrorist” and avoided to even talk with him let alone rendering any help to him in any manner!
As if this was not enough, the huge burden of fighting his cases fell on his mother alone, who negotiated the uncharted and masculine worlds of courts, jails and lawyers chamber for another 11 years. She started attending court proceedings and carried messages she hardly understood to lawyers and had to remain standing for many hours in court rooms. This took a heavy toll on her health and her mother became bed ridden! Still after being released he took care of his mother in her last days and thanked Allah for it and not once did he raise anti-India slogans nor ever decried India whom he still feels proud of and calls himself an Indian first, always and every time!
What an unbeatable irony that no Judge asked him about the torture nor did the concerned doctors record his torture wounds! He was acquitted in one terror case only to face another terror charge! Imagine a person being acquitted in 18 cases of terror charges! This speaks for itself and is more than enough to lay bare the deep conspiracy hatched against him by men in uniform!
May it be added here that Mohammad Amir Khan was charged in 20 cases for terror crimes and waging war against the nation. He was accused of masterminding 17 low-intensity bomb blasts that occurred in Delhi and neighbouring states between December 1996 and December 1997. A Delhi High Court judgment lambasted while overturning his conviction in one of the cases that, “The prosecution has miserably failed to adduce any evidence to connect the accused appellant with the charges framed, much less prove them.” What more should I say?
With due respect to NHRC, let me voice my personal view that Rs 5 lakh is just nothing! He deserves Rs 5 crore at least and also all those who framed “false terror charges” against him must be arrested, prosecuted and imprisoned without pay and they must also be ordered to pay huge compensation to Mohammad Amir Khan for ruining his entire life! I hope that the amount of Rs 5 lakh will be raised to Rs 5 crore. However, what is of supreme importance is that under no circumstances should they who implicated him falsely in terror cases should ever be allowed to go scot free! No case has shaken me so much in my entire life till now as his after I read about it! It is beyond the capacity of my pen to express in words the boundless courage which he summoned in facing so many harrowing experiences and still reaffirming his hundred percent love for India whom he still proudly calls his motherland! Every Indian must learn something from him!
When Centre can spend crores and crores of rupees on various expenses like security, staying and lodging expenses, visiting foreign countries of Hurriyat leaders who openly rant against India from every possible platform as was brought out by eminent lawyer ML Sharma in his PIL which though was rejected but not before Justice Anil R Dave openly nodded and acknowledged that this irked them also and lamented that, “We also share the same feeling…everybody sitting here feels the same” then why can’t it pay a few crores to Mohammad Amir Khan who has lost his prime age in prison bearing third degree torture for a crime which he never committed and most importantly saw his parents suffering endlessly in front of his own eyes and saw them dying in sorrow for no fault of theirs? It is the bounden duty of Centre to admit the worst suffering wrongly faced by Mohammad Amir Khan and do everything best possible to mitigate the terrible suffering he had to bear through in his prime age for no fault of his by compensating him adequately which he is entitled also legally!
Finally, on a concluding note let me say that his unflinching faith in Indian judiciary and undying optimism and love for his motherland is most touching and that too after suffering so much that cannot be described in words! Every Indian must learn something from him and especially those who raise anti-India slogans and burn Indian flags at the drop of a hat must learn something from him who inspite of losing his whole youth in jail and losing his parents so unjustly still feels proud to be called an Indian! I salute him from the innermost core of my heart! For me he is the biggest national icon whom I have ever known in my entire life till now! He is the real national hero and real national icon at least for me! He lost his parents, his prime age in prison yet he swears by India and not by Pakistan and still loves to be called an Indian! Indian politicians also who spare no opportunity to criticise our Army and Judiciary must also imbibe some invaluable lessons from his real life which he led bravely even after facing so much of upheavals and stop criticising our Army and Judiciary on one pretext or the other which only makes Pakistan very happy!
Sanjeev Sirohi, Advocate,
s/o Col BPS Sirohi,
A 82, Defence Enclave,
Sardhana Road, Kankerkhera,
Meerut – 250001, Uttar Pradesh.