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India’s Guantanomo Jails

16 December, 2008

By Momin Iftikhar

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The disclosure by a Pakistani lawyer C M Farooque that many people including Ajmal Kasab were apprehended by the Nepalese authorities in early 2006 and transferred to India for interrogation by the Indian intelligence agencies has once again raised the issue of the clandestine detention of foreign national in India and their use as clay pigeons in fake encounters to conduct coercive diplomacy against Pakistan. Ajmal Kasab is the only ‘survivor’ from among the nine attackers who held Mumbai to ransom from 26 Nov and 29 Nov, killing 170 and injuring hundreds and forms the pivot of the Indian argument that terrorism emanating from Pakistan constitutes a casus belli that merits a  punitive action against Pakistan.

According to Farooque, who is running a NGO, ‘Voice of Human and Prisoners’ Rights’ Ajmal was one of around 200 people who were apprehended before 2006 and that an application by him to the Nepal apex court was currently pending in which the Indian and the Nepalese Governments had been made respondents. Farooque had held a press conference earlier in which he had apprehended that Kasab and many of those arrested in Nepal and transferred to India would be killed in fake encounters and their bodies used to authenticate sinister scenarios fabricated by Indian agencies. RAW wields considerable influence in Nepal and the unfortunate people who got trapped by the agency had gone to Nepal on legal traveling documents. The advocate confirmed that he had filed a petition in the Nepal Supreme Court in Feb 2008 seeking Kasab’s release which had made no headway thus far. 

Ever since September Eleven’s reprehensible attacks and US’ aggressive and unilateral response seems to have obsessed India. To jump on to US led ‘fight against terror bandwagon’ she has gone to and exceeded al limits in presenting herself as the victim of “cross-border-terrorism” to justify a coercive policy vis-à-vis Pakistan. Even as the communalization of India, the deepening fissures of socio-economic fault lines and the rise of Hindu Terrorism have become major sources for the rise of terrorism related incidents in India yet she has refused to acknowledge the ground realities and has been holding Pakistan accountable for all acts of terrorism in India. It is instructive to note that in Dec 2001 India used the attack on the Indian Parliament to mobilize for an impending war with Pakistan even when no evidence was available to justify such a horrendous move. The standoff lasted till Oct 2002 without emergence of any evidence that linked Pakistan to the Parliament attack. When the Supreme Court finally announced its judgment in Aug 2005, there was no mention of Pakistan’s involvement and only one of the five accused, Afzal Guru, emerged as the ultimate fall guy. As of the five attackers who were all killed by the security forces during the attack and dubbed as Pakistanis, nothing is known. There were some reports though that these were Taliban prisoners who had been arrested in Afghanistan by the newly installed government indebted to India for its sponsorship of their cause during the long struggle with Taliban.

Much like their fascination with the US evolved concept of unilateral aggression, Indians, in the post Nine Eleven global scenario, seem to be obsessed by the concept of Guantanomo Bay detention facility maintained by US and its concept of secrecy and being beyond the jurisdiction of law and accountability. In the wake of dissipation of Taliban resistance in November 2001 RAW began the operation of airlifting Pakistani and foreign nationals from Afghan jails to undisclosed locations in India. The Panjshiri warlords, indebted to Indian unflinching support during the post Sep 1996 coming to power of Taliban, provided RAW with unrestrained access to prisoners in Afghan Jails where they chose their victims at will. According to reports, in one particular incident a RAW team led by General Sunny and including Brigadier Nair and Mr. S S Phogat aka Colonel Prakash Malhotra singled out prisoners in the Dashtak Jail in Panjshir after spot interrogation. These hapless individuals were shifted by MI 17 helicopters from the Dashtak jail to 6 Frontier Corps Headquarters at Kunduz under the authority of General Qasim Fahim, who later became the Afghan Defence Minister and Younas Qanooni. After more interrogation by RAW these prisoners were heli-lifted to Dushanbe by Afghan Helicopters and later flown to undisclosed location in India by an IAF IL-76 on 25 Jun 2002.

What happened to these individuals who were picked up by India from Afghanistan outside the framework of any legal, military or moral authority? remains any ones’ guess. But the increasing exposure of fake encounters by Indian security forces and the discovery of mass graves holding bodies of the victims of such encounters are leads enough to indicate to the sordid and diabolic end meted out to these innocent people. During summer this year there were the disclosures about the presence of 1000 unmarked graves in border villages around Uri in the Indian Held Kashmir. The villagers said that they had no ideas who were the buried men and that the police told them that the men were foreign militants killed in fighting with Indian troops. One can’t cease speculating how many of those lifted from Afghanistan now lie  at the bottom of such soggy pits in Kashmir and else where.

The 26 – 29 November Mumbai attacks have elicited an established response from India of blaming Pakistan for all and sundry acts of terrorism occurring in India; even before conducting a proper inquiry and establishing the facts. The statement of Advocate Farooq, duly supported with legal facts establish that Ajmal Kasab was picked up by the Indian agencies from Nepal and he is now being used as a pawn in the Indian explanation of the Mumbai incident that places the onus of responsibility on Pakistan. The disclosure also goes to confirm reports that India is holding foreign and Pakistani nationals in undisclosed jails a la Guantanomo where the incarcerated people have no access to law and who act as cannon fodder in fake encounters that help India conduct her policy of coercion with Pakistan. Pakistan , also, needs to take up the matter with the Nepalese Government to circumscribe the untrammeled liberty of action enjoyed by the Indian intelligence agencies in Nepal, to the detriment of Pakistan.


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