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Madrasa Reforms: Indian Muslim Voices

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 30 July 2009 | Posted in ,

Name of Book: Madrasa Reforms: Indian Muslim Voices
Author: Yoginder Sikand
Year of Publication: August 2008
Publisher: Vikas Adhyayan Kendra(VAK), Mumbai
Price: Rs.100

Reviewed By Mushtaq ul Haq Ahmad Sikander

“Madrasa.” When someone utters this name, no sooner does he complete his sentence than our mind rings with Fundamentalism, dens of Terror, fanticism, extremism, rigid and all sorts of pre-conceived notions begin engulfing our judgement. The madrasas for centuries have been luminaries of faith, knowledge and practice embedded into one. These madrasas have kept the candle of divine knowledge (Ilm) burning even in adverse times. Though the madrasa has played a pivotal role in providing leadership and scholars to the Muslim Society especially in the South Asia, but the fact must also be acknowledged that in due course of time there has been degradation to the role of Madrasa in Society.

After 9/11 the debate about the madrasas took the centrestage and still continues so. The Empire controlled media painted all the madrasas with the same black brush to culminate The War On Terror. There was no serious attempt to understand the structure, administration, pupils, teachers, fund raising and future of madrasa by any collective government study or individual attempt, so the smokescreen about madrasaa continued to dominate the elite intellectual class as well as common masses.

The present book under review by austere contemporary scholar-activist Yoginder Sikand is an exception. This book contains interviews with luminaries, scholars-administrators as well as students of the madrasa. These belong to a wide cross-section of society including Shias as well as Sunnis and among them scholars & students associated with Deobandi, Nadwi, Barelvi, Ahle-Hadith and Jamaat-e-Islami school of thought. These interviews also include scholars, journalists and activists like Asghar Ali Engineer, Zafarul Islam Khan, Maqbool Ahmad Siraj and Professor Akhtarul Wasey, who themselves though not a product of madrasa education but are closely linked to Muslim related issues, taking up the Muslim cause and making unaddressed voices of Muslims heard through writing and activism.

As Asghar Ali Engineer rightly predicts in the Preface of the book that it will "Help dispel many myths about madrasa education in India". This book truly lives upto this remark as all the interviwees agree that there shoud be reform in the madrasa educational system, so that the artificial gulf created by the branding knowledge as "Secular" and "Religious" will be eradicated. Another crying need of the hour is that madrasa graduates who are churned out in scores every year must not have a limited job opportunity as they are good for nothing other than preachers, Imams or madrasa administrators. So this madrasa learning must not end in a viscous circle in itself, but the madrasa graduates must interact with a varied cross section of society.

The biased blinding views about the madrasas being breeding grounds of Terrorists is a myth and fear inculcated by media at the pretext of Politicians with vested interests. There has been no evidence to prove this allegation against madrasas in India. The madrasa graduates wish and work to build a just society on the priciples of peace and justice as they are taught and enshrined to uphold these pluralistic and harmonious priciples in their seminaries. Though there maybe some loopholes in the madrasa system because of some traditional voices who don't wish to compromise their rigid stand or are afraid of the degradation or even usurption of their status by the sweeping reform, but inspite of these discouraging features the last five interviews with madrasa graduates who now are studying in various leading universities like Jamia Milia and Jawaharlal Nehru University provide a ray of hope for the bright future and enthralling reforms in the "Madrasa Education" which account for the free education of millions of Muslims nationwide plus free boarding and lodging facilities for which the money comes from the Muslim Masses.

The book is a commendable job done by the author, as it caters to the present burning issue of Madrasas. Though much have been written by the scholars of madrasas about these seminaries but unfortunately bulk of these works is in urdu which has been reduced to a minority status. This work in English is an unbiased account from an objective scholar's pen which will be of equal interest and help to scholars, activists, students and all those interseted in understanding the mind of those who are championing and representing the cause of Islam and Muslims. The book is worth reading and it needs to be translated into Urdu and sent to every madrasa and ashram in the hope that it would remove the barriers of hate, prejudice, anarchy and communalism among the communities to let them live with common brotherhood, love and peace.

Indian Muslim News - ISSUES

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in

Kalam's frisking: Burning Questions

By Tanveer Jafri

Former President of India, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam was frisked by the security staff of the US based Continental Airlines at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi on his way to Newark, USA. While Dr. Kalam, in his well known polite and generous way, followed all the security checks as asked by the security staff, the staff people, by not having any trust in the former President of India, frisked him as usual, (read rudely). He was made to remove his shoes and those were checked in the way as they contained any explosive or contraband. His pocket, wallet even his cell phone was minutely checked. No doubt, Dr. Kalam is an idol for Indians. He is seen as a great scientist, missile man, Bharat Ratna along with the “people's President”. When such a person is frisked in the Indian capital by an American company, the anger and excitement among Indians is bound to happen. The people are angrier of the fact that the security staff frisked Dr. Kalam despite knowing that he is the former Indian President. The debate in the country is on regarding this issue. Even in the Parliament, there was much debate on this.

Though the Continental Airlines has tried to normalize the situation by seeking apology from Dr. Kalam, but a common Indian is asking whether the frisking of Dr. Kalam was according to the security protocols or it was a usual American way of insulting India. When the company says that the checks was according to the protocols, Indian people have every right to ask whether it had ever frisked the former US Presidents, George Bush and Bill Clinton in the same way? If yes, then it has to provide proofs of this. If it does so, then Indian citizens would certainly be convinced. And if these protocols are for people other than Bush and Clinton, then this is really objectionable and an insult to India.

There seem to be many technical and contradictory issues involved in this entire incident. Like, the list of the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) of India, under which many VIPs are exempted from the security checks, it also includes the former Presidents. On the contrary, the list of the Transport Security Administration (TSA) of the United States doesn't include the former Presidents of India. Now the question is which list the company should follow? Indian or American?

Post 9/11 America is on such a high alert that it is always worried of another terror attack. Perhaps, this is the reason that America hasn't witnessed another attack despite numerous attempts by the terrorists. But in the name of this alertness, prominent people of other countries should not be insulted. In 2003 too, the Indian Defence Minister George Fernandez was frisked twice in America. Last year, the Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee cancelled his London visit just because of his frisking at the Heathrow. Similarly, the Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had to pass the security check in Moscow last year. The question is that when other countries don't trust the prominent citizens of India, then why the Government of India doesn't strengthen its security protocols? Indian Parliament has also been attacked. After the Mumbai attacks, it seems that no place in India, highly protected or sensitive, is safe. In these circumstances, India should also strengthen its security system in the same way. Whether Hillary Clinton or Bill Clinton, we should follow the same security checks with them as the American security agencies follow with the Indian leaders.

In Parliament, a member, by calling Dr. Kalam a national hero, called this incident an insult of India. The CPI MP Sitaram Yechuri accused that Kalam was frisked because of his first name 'Abdul'. He clearly meant that because Dr. Kalam was a Muslim, that's why the American agency insulted him. Was Dr. Kalam was frisked due to his name of it was a normal course? This is different issue. But there is no denial in the fact that after 9/11, Muslims are seen with a sense of doubt in America. Many of India's prominent Muslim scholars were even returned from the airport. There are many incidents which show that the American agencies are hostile towards the people having Muslim names, wearing Islamic dress or having beard. Now the question is that who is responsible for this doubtful condition of the Muslims?In spite of all the above realities, this is also true that our politicians are always in search of an issue, which they can politicize. Some politicians seem to be more hurt than Kalam himself. They named this incident as insult of the nation, attack on Indian honour, insult of the largest democracy etc. we should not forget that here every citizen, either Prime Minister or President, cast their vote in cue. Dr. Manmohan Singh didn't feel insulted when he got his driving license renewed himself in a cue.

In fact the country and its citizens feel insulted when some politicians snatch money from the poor and stock it abroad. Nation feels more ashamed when the chief of any national political party or any cabinet minister is caught in a camera, accepting bribe. Nation feel insulted when the MPs show the bundle of notes in the Parliament. It is more insulting for the nation when a Member of Parliament accepts bribe for asking a question in the Parliament. The country and the people have their heads down with shame when corrupt, thieves, criminals and gangsters enter the Parliament after winning election. What to say about the American agencies, perhaps it is a part of the American policy that everybody is bound to trust them. If American thinking would not be so, then there would not have been entry of sniffer dogs in Rajghat. Whenever any American dignitary visits India, the entire responsibility of his/her security is of the American security agencies. Indian security agencies are just responsible for the outer circle. To fill this gap of trust and distrust there is need to take strong steps, to show willpower and to leave the tendency of sycophancy.

[Tanveer Jafri is a columnist based in India. He is related with hundreds of most popular daily newspapers/portals in India and abroad. Jafri writes in the field of communal harmony, world peace, anti communalism, anti terrorism, national integration, national & international politics etc. He is a devoted social activist for world peace, unity, integrity & global brotherhood. Tanveer Jafri is also a member of Haryana Sahitya Academy & Haryana Urdu Academy. He can be contacted at tanveerjafriamb@gmail.com]

Indian Muslim News - FOREIGN

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 29 July 2009 | Posted in ,

Pakistan pluralism needs to be revived

By Haroon Nasir

On 11 August 1947, a newly-formed Pakistan had its first session of the Constituent Assembly, which was formed to write Pakistan’s Constitution and serve as its first Parliament. Joginder Nath Mandal, a Hindu from a caste that traditionally had been socially marginalized, was nominated as its chairman. Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, declared, “You are free; you are free to go to your temples; you are free to go to your mosques or any other place of worship in the state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the state.”

Thus, Jinnah set a pluralistic model for Pakistan to grow as a modern Muslim state. After his death in 1948, however, this model was largely ignored and incumbent leaders in Pakistan, which is 96.5 percent Muslim, have often used religion as a tool to divide rather unite.

In 1949, the Objectives Resolution was passed as a preamble to the Constitution, declaring Pakistan an Islamic state governed by Islamic principles. The Ahmadiyya, who make up a Muslim community that believes the second advent of Jesus has been fulfilled, were declared non-Muslims by the National Assembly in 1954. And Christian missionary educational and health institutions were nationalized in 1972, resulting in the degradation of standards and performance, and the marginalization of the Christian missionary community that was running these institutions quite effectively before.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, in an attempt to gain legitimacy for his military rule, General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq started an “Islamization” process. His government began to implement Sharia, or Islamic law, by enforcing the Hudud Ordinance. This law allowed punishments such as stoning, amputations and lashings for extramarital relations, theft and consuming alcohol, based on the rulings of certain Islamic jurists who believed there was a historical precedent.

During those years, the public school curriculum was revised to incorporate an overwhelmingly religious component to build “Islamic character” in the nation’s youth and glorify Muslim heroes. The new curriculum overlooked non-Muslim Pakistanis and their role in national development, polarizing society along religious lines.

Despite these policies, however, ordinary Pakistanis never lost hope for the model envisaged by its founders: a pluralistic society within a Muslim-majority country. Finding in religious extremism a common threat, Pakistanis of all faiths, ethnicities and cultures have begun working together for a more tolerant Pakistan. Support for victims of the 2005 earthquake and internally displaced people as a result of conflict between the Taliban and the government transcends religious boundaries.

A growing presence by civil society organizations, campaigning for human and women’s rights, civil liberties and civic responsibility, demonstrates a will for equality. And a number of volunteer grassroots initiatives, such as the Critical Mass Movement, the Lawyers’ Movement and Hum (We) Pakistani, are reviving a collective sense of hope by providing aid and support to displaced people and organizing youth to help clean cities and run awareness campaigns that rise above religious, cultural and ethnic loyalties.

The country needs to build upon these movements and act immediately to correct the mistakes of the past and transform this challenge into an opportunity. The following steps can help put the country back on track:

First, reform the public school curriculum so that it accommodates all Pakistanis and inculcates students with a mindset that is respectful of differences and emphasizes the benefits of pluralism in a modern nation.

Second, revise madrasa (Islamic religious school) curricula to include subjects like social and natural sciences, math, foreign languages and literature, social and civic studies and world religions, all of which expose students to a broader understanding of domestic and international affairs.

Third, highlight the constructive contributions of non-Muslim Pakistanis in the media. Through proper training, media can play a role by covering positive stories and refraining from defaming minority groups.

Fourth, remove and change discriminatory laws that are making the mutual coexistence of Muslims and non-Muslims difficult, such as the blasphemy law (Sections 295-B and 295-C of the Pakistani Penal Code) that has often been used to try non-Muslims accused of defiling the Quran or making derogatory remarks about the Prophet Muhammad; or the law of witness, which claims that a woman’s testimony is not equal to a man’s, and that a non-Muslim is unable to testify against a Muslim.

From the time of Pakistan’s founding, non-Muslims have been an integral part of the state. The flag of Pakistan reflects this diversity: the white portion of the flag on the left representing the non-Muslim population and the dark green portion on the right its Muslim constituency.

It will be no easy feat but Pakistanis need to revive the spirit of unity in diversity that shaped its founding principles.

(Courtesy: DailyStar.com)

Indian Muslim News - HUMAN RIGHTS

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in ,

Jamia Nagar-based Muslim body CCIM rejects NHRC’s clean chit to Delhi Police on Batla House encounter

The National Human Rights Commission’s (NHRC) report on the Batla House encounter that gave a clean chit to the Delhi Police has been rejected by the Jamia Nagar-based Muslim body Coordination Committee of Indian Muslims (CCIM). The NHRC released the text of its proceedings on 20th July 2009 regarding Case No. 2811/30/8/08-09-FE filed in the Batla House encounter by the complainant Mr. Kamran Siddique, General Secretary of Real Cause NGO.

The CCIM has accused the NHRC of committing a grave injustice saying that the NHRC report was one-sided. The CCIM released a 11-point statement on the issue. The statement is as follows:

1. It is one-sided, and NHRC has solely depended on police version of 19th September 2009 events, post mortem reports of slain inspector Mr. M.C. Sharma and Mr. Atif Ameen and Mr. Mohammed Sajid and forensic report and arrived to the conclusion that “there was no violation of human rights and the action of the police was fully protected by the law.”

2. The NHRC did not look at the other side, they didn’t meet the other occupants of L-18, neither they contacted the locals of Jamia Nagar and nor the relatives of the slain boys from Azamgarh.

3. The NHRC didn’t visit the flat No 108 of L-18 to check the police version and came to the conclusion that police acted in the self defence.

4. The NHRC reported two contradictory version of the police one by Shri R.P. Upadhayay Additional Commissioner of Police (Vigilance), Delhi, submitted in a report to NHRC on 23 October 2008 and another not by Mr. Karnail Singh, Commissioner of Police Special Cell Delhi, submitted in a note which was submitted to NHRC on 19th November 2008 and does not tried to verify which statement is correct and which is not.

5. The NHRC also didn’t try to ascertain by wether M.C. Sharma was actually killed by the Atif and Sajid and also who opened fire first. Relying on the police version, NHRC came to conclusion that “if the police had fired first, Atif and Sajid would have been injured and would not have been in a position to fire back at the police. Hence, the police party acted in self defence. To prove that M.C. Sharma was killed by Atif and Sajid the NHRC relied on CFSL report which has found chemical on the hands of Atif and Sajid and the police version that it found two 0.30 mm pistols and that the pistols do not belong to police.

6. The NHRC also didn’t answer that when M.C. Sharma got the medical aid within five minutes (Holy Family Hospital was 5 minutes distance from L-18) and when his vital parts were not hurt by gunshot then why he died because of excessive bleeding.

7. When AIIMS post mortem report says that the surgery done on M.C. Sharma at Holy Family Hospital destroyed the vital evidences as to how they came to the conclusion that M.C. Sharma was hit from front side.

8. The NHRC also didn’t try to know how Sajid was fired on his skull. His photographs showed multiple injuries on his skull, which suggests that he was made to sit first and then shot in cold blood from above. NHRC simply says that Sajid’s post-mortem report shows several ante-mortem injuries including prominent bullet wounds but it didn’t analysed the report.

9. The NHRC also avoided answering whether Atif and Sajid were actually terrorists or not. Its simple answer was that this is not an issue before the Commission.

10.The NHRC also violated its own guidelines regarding magisterial enquiry and simply accepted the police version that Lt. Governor didn’t permit such enquiry. NHRC must answer whether such an enquiry in all the police encounters is mandatory or it is the choice of the state Government to order it or not.

11. This is surprising that NHRC also didn’t try to cross examine the sole eye witness Mr. Mohammed Saif who was arrested alive from flat no 108 of L-18.

The CCIM in its statement said that it was rejecting the NHRC report on the basis of the above facts. The CCIM said that the NHRC report was biased, one sided and didn’t do justice to this sensitive issue. “The NHRC had betrayed the trust of the people by completely denying the other party to be heard. The NHRC has completely failed to protect the human rights of the victims and common man,” the CCIM said and reiterated its demand of high level judicial inquiry into the Batla House encounter.

Indian Muslim News - ISSUES

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 27 July 2009 | Posted in ,

Hum Hindustani: Frisky business

By J Sri Raman

The airline has now apologised to Kalam. This should end this particular episode, but the real issue is still waiting to be raised in the political realm. Do security rules so partial to rulers, both past and present, have a place in a democracy?

It was a rare scene that the two Houses of India’s Parliament witnessed on July 20. The day saw angry protests, but these emanated from every section of each House. High-pitched voices were heard, but they were raised in unison. Members were united in denouncing an “affront” to former President APJ Abdul Kalam by an American airline, and demanding action against the company.

Forgotten were the partisan issues (which regularly keep creating those “furores” for routine media coverage), as members across the political spectrum vented their anguish over the way the callously irreverent staff of Continental Airlines had frisked Kalam before letting him board a Newark-bound flight. Indignation mounted as it was recalled that the former President had been subjected to a “full body search”: and even asked to remove his shoes in the process.

The incident, it was mentioned in passing, took place way back on April 21. The fact, however, did not seem to intrigue the furious members unduly.

For the Bharatiya Janata Party, the “frisking” issue fitted in nicely between its attack on the India-Pakistan joint statement issued in Sharm el-Sheikh as a “betrayal” and its enraged response to the end-use monitoring agreement India signed the other day in relation to the import of defence equipment and technology from the United States. The party sought to project the Kalam affair as no less a question of national “sovereignty” than the other two issues.

The BJP found backing from its allies and some unlikely quarters as well. The nationality of the airline under attack no doubt helped in this regard. A leading member of the Left wondered loudly whether this happened because of Kalam’s name.

Now, there have indeed been reported cases of Muslim names making it difficult, to put it mildly, for innocent passengers at US airports. Kalam’s, however, was hardly a comparable case. Certainly, not at an Indian airport, where he is recognised by everyone — and accompanied by his own security personnel (who, in this instance, reportedly tried to stop the frisking).

It was Kalam’s name, however, that ruled out a controversy on the issue as it raged in Parliament and outside. The Treasury benches joined with gusto in trashing the airline. Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel charged that it had violated official guidelines, including a long list of dignitaries (with all former Presidents and Prime Ministers among them) who could not be subjected to such indignities as frisking. Patel pledged action, and has kept his promise, with the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) filing a “first information report” (FIR) against the airline.

Nothing of this sort happened, when other Indian VIPs or VVIPs were seen as similar victims of airport affronts earlier. Last year, then External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee was frisked at the Moscow airport. In 2003, then Defence Minister George Fernandes was also made to undergo security screening in the US. The latter tried to present himself as a special target of imperialism, but his Far Right political company made this sound far from convincing.

Yes, these were mere ministers, below a former President in formal protocol, and the incidents took place abroad. It is hard to imagine, however, a response of the kind elicited by the Kalam case, even if some of the other former Presidents and Prime Ministers had been involved in such incidents on Indian soil. Ex-President Zail Singh or ex-Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, for two eminent examples, might have elicited the opposite of sympathy on such an occasion.

Kalam’s personal popularity is beyond question. He does not command popularity because he is the “Father of the Indian Bomb” or the “Missile Man”. These, of course, are the reasons for his popularity with the BJP and its entire bandwagon of militarists. These are the reasons why they put him up as their candidate for presidency in 2002. These are also the grounds on which the Left and the liberal camp chose to give him a fight then. Some of us were disappointed when he was opposed on the specious ground that a scientist could not perform the political task of a president, though such a counterproductive campaign was not the only cause of his success.

Once in the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the President’s palace, he acquired the image of an Internet-savvy occupant of his august office, interested in interacting with students and other sections. Post-retirement, he has continued his well-publicised communication with the people. His catechism-like lectures may not be everyone’s cuppa, and some might find ridiculous his call upon his audiences to repeat his words after him. But his is a patriarch-like popularity. Indians, like most fellow-Asians, love to indulge the old man at home, without listening too closely and critically as he keeps pontificating with a string of pious platitudes.

He is popular also for his so-perceived simplicity and humility. The public sees these qualities reflected in his reticence about the airport incident and his reportedly uncomplaining acceptance of the security regime.

As for the intriguing delay in the surfacing of the issue, some conspiracy theorists may detect in it a diversionary official tactic as the opposition looks for ammunition in Parliament and outside. It is more likely, however, that the incident, which occurred as India’s general election was underway, was kept under wraps by the outgoing government. Small mercy, that. Else, the BJP’s “Shadow Prime Minister”, Lal Krishna Advani, might have added the promise of grounding such airlines, if returned to power, to his pledge to bring back Indian wealth allegedly stashed away in Swiss banks.

The airline has now apologised to Kalam. This should end this particular episode, but the real issue is still waiting to be raised in the political realm. Do security rules so partial to rulers, both past and present, have a place in a democracy? The VIPs and VVIPs, here as elsewhere, view personal security at enormous public expense as their birthright. Why can’t they accept some personal inconvenience for the sake of public security?

[The writer is a journalist based in Chennai, India. A peace activist, he is also the author of a sheaf of poems titled At Gunpoint.]

(Courtesy: DailyTimes.com)

Indian Muslim News - WOMEN

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in ,

Muslim Womens Rights: Ijtihad in the Light of Maqasid al-Shariah

By Maulvi Waris Mazhari

(Translated by Yoginder Sikand)

Prejudices against women are a universal phenomenon, found in almost every human society. When such prejudices are sought to be given religious sanction, it becomes much more difficult to do away with them. Lamentably, certain views and prescriptions contained in the corpus of traditional Muslim jurisprudence or fiqh do indeed militate against women, and even go against the spirit and teachings of Islam, a religion that stresses womens rights and equal status.

Things, however, are beginning to change today. Some Muslim scholars, based in certain Arab countries and in the West, are developing a contextually-relevant fiqh for women, or what is called fiqh al-nisa. One of the leading scholars in this regard is the well-known Allamah Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian alim who is now based in Qatar. He has issued numerous fatwas related to womens issues that depart, in significant ways, from traditional fiqh prescriptions. For instance, he argues that it is not prohibited for a man to shake a womans hand as a customary greeting, for a woman to take up employment outside the home and even to become the head of state of a country. He engages in contextual ijtihad or personal reasoning based on the principal sources of the Islamic traditionthe Quran and Hadithto come up with such novel views.

Let me clarify his interesting way of reasoning with the help of an example. It is reported that, in the context of the death of the Emperor of Persia, who was succeeded by his daughter, the Prophet mentioned that a people who were ruled by a woman would not succeed. This hadith report has been taken by most ulema to imply that a woman should never become the head of state of a country.

Allamah al-Qaradawi engages in a contextual analysis of this report to come out with a fiqh prescription that is precisely the opposite of what most traditionalist ulema uphold. He argues that this report has to be understood in the backdrop of the context that the Prophet was addressing. That was a time when many countries, such as Persia, were ruled by male monarchs, some of whom claimed to be divinely-appointed. They enjoyed dictatorial powers, and could do just as they pleased. There was no concept of democracy then. That was the context in which the Prophet had made his remark. Today, Allamah al-Qaradawi argues, the political context is totally different. Most countries today are, at least in theory, no longer ruled by dictatorial monarchs, and pay at least lip-service to democracy. Today, a single person cannot decide the fate of an entire country. Rather, governance has now become a vastly complicated affair. There is a whole system or apparatus for this, a set of formal rules, a massive bureaucracy, parliaments, courts and so on. Hence, Allamah al-Qaradawi argues, in todays context it is indeed permissible for women to become the head of state. He backs this conclusion by pointing to the reference in the Muslim tradition to Bilquis, Queen of Sheba, who was permitted to rule by the Prophet Sulaiman or Solomon. Since Muslims believe that Solomon was a divinely-appointed Prophet and that all prophets must be respected and their example followed, obviously the practice of Solomon in allowing Bilquis to rule cannot be considered to be un-Islamic.

Personally, I agree with Allamah Qaradawis reasoning and conclusion. If you see the countries that have had women heads of state, such as India, Bangladesh, Ireland, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, you will have to admit that these women did not rule any worse than their male counterparts before or after them. These countries did not decline just because they had female rulers.

Sadly, we have few ulema of the calibre of Allamah al-Qaradawi in South Asia who are seeking to evolve contextually-relevant understandings of women with regard to fiqh-related issues. Take, for instance, the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board, which sees itself as the apex body of the Indian ulema with regard to Muslim personal law issues, including, and especially, those related to women and family matters. The vast majority of the members of the Board are very traditionalist-minded. I personally feel that the Board must include more ulema, as well as Muslim social activists, who are better aware of the contemporary social context and demands, including the many problems faced by Muslim women, and who are able to engage in ijtihad with regard to a number of problematic issues. Sadly, there are very few such ulema in the Board, and their views are silenced by the conservatives, who are averse to ijtihad and insist on taqid or blindly following the prescriptions of the medieval ulema of the different maslaks or schools of Muslim jurisprudence.

Take the case, for instance, the issue of three talaqs in one sitting, which the Board has yet to resolve. This practice has led to literally thousands of Muslim women being arbitrarily divorced by their husbands. Most traditional jurists are of the view that three talaqs in one sitting constitute an irrevocable and final divorce. But, there are others today, as well as in the past, such as Ibn Taimiyah, Ibn al-Qaiyyim, Allamah Showkani and so on, and the ulema of the Ahl-e Hadith and Shia Jafari schools, who take this as one, revocable talaq. There are also statements of the Prophet to back their argument. The traditionalists refuse to listen to their claims, however, because they are wedded to the doctrine of taqlid. I think that one way to win them over is to consider the issue in the backdrop of the spirit or aims of the shariah, whose basic thrust is establishing justice. When the matter is understood in this way, and if the ulema can be convinced that the practice of triple talaq in one sitting is resulting in a gross violation of justice, the fundamental principle of the shariah, by causing such great suffering to divorced women and their children, it might make them change their views or cause them to allow for talfiq, or resorting to the opinions of other schools of Muslim jurisprudence, in such matters. I think there is a desperate need for our Indian ulema, including those associated with the Board, to expand their thinking about these issues, and to give particular attention to social realities, needs and problems, rather than advocating rigid taqlid.

In such matters, taqlid can amount to ignoring the aims of the shariah (maqasid al-shariah). Sadly, the issue of maqasid al-shariah is not given much attention to in the madrasas where our ulema are trained. This is a reflection of the fact that our madrasas, and traditional Islamic thought more generally, have remained stuck in a narrow framework defined by medieval fiqh. Today, however, some Muslim scholars, in Egypt and America, for instance, are trying to revive the tradition of articulating fiqh prescriptions in the light of maqasid al-shariah, and this is also reflected in some of their fatwas on women-related issues. Some of them resort to, and freely take from, other schools of Muslim jurisprudence, not being bound by the opinions of just one school that they might find too strict or inappropriate as regards issues related to women, for instance. Others advocate what is called fiqh us-sunnah, that is approaching the Quran and the genuine Hadith directly, instead of being bound by the prescriptions of the established schools of fiqh. In other words, and this is an approach I personally agree with, they take what they find useful in the established fiqh but abandon what they might feel is against the Quran and Prophetic Sunnah. In this way, they have been able to open up new spaces and opportunities for Muslim women and to uphold their rights, as given in the Quran, which may have been overshadowed, neglected or suppressed in the traditional corpus of fiqh.

This approach is in accord with the established principle in usul al-fiqh, the principles of Muslim jurisprudence, that changing conditions and times might necessitate changes in some ahkamat or juridical rules. This principle validates new solutions to new social contexts and social problems, and is related to the wider issue of ijtihad. The noted eighteenth century South Asian Muslim scholar, Shah Waliullah Dehlawi, advocated the same sort of approach. He critiqued taqlid and argued that only those prescriptions of the corpus of medieval fiqh should be accepted that were in accordance with the Quran and the genuine Hadith. He was also open to the idea of ulema of one maslak borrowing from other maslaks where the need so arose.

Ironically, although all the major Sunni traditions in South Asia, including the Deobandis, Barelvis and Ahl-e Hadith, claim to follow in the tradition of Shah Waliullah, they have not shown the same broadmindedness as he in the matter of ijtihad and fiqh. The Deobandis and Barelvis still insist on rigid taqlid of Hanafi jurisprudence, some aspects of which clearly militate against womens rights, even those that are granted to them by the Quran. In this context, I would appeal to our ulema to learn from the example of Shah Waliullah, whom they hold in high esteem, and to adopt a less rigid and more expansive approach to the question of taqlid versus ijtihad, including on some very problematic issues concerning women.

[A graduate of the Deoband madrasa, Delhi-based Maulana Waris Mazhari is the editor of the monthly Tarjuman Dar ul-Ulum, the official organ of the Deoband Madrasas Old Boys Association. He can be contacted on ws_mazhari@yahoo.com. Yoginder Sikand works with the Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Social Policy at the National Law School, Bangalore. He can be contacted on ysikand@yahoo.com]

Indian Muslim News - FOREIGN

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 24 July 2009 | Posted in

Bangladeshi party wants non-Muslim members to take special oath

Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, the country’s largest Islamist party, expects its non-Muslim members to take an oath to “defend national sovereignty”, but this is not required of its Muslim members, a media report said Thursday.

The party, that claims to have 25,000 non-Muslim members, submitted its ‘reformed’ constitution to the Election Commission (EC) Wednesday.

“I shall actively play a role in defending the independence and sovereignty of Bangladesh,” reads a section of the oath scheduled for non-Muslim members.

Both Muslim and non-Muslim members, however, must swear to abide by the rules and decisions of the party, giving the highest priority to implementing the decisions, The Daily Star newspaper said quoting the party’s statute.

In addition, a non-Muslim Jamaat member must work for establishing the “rule of Islam” in the country, in order to continue being a member of the party.

The provision was included in Jamaat’s constitution for ‘removing religious and gender discriminations’ in a bid to qualify for registration.

The Jamaat was banned in the early years after Bangladesh separated from Pakistan in 1971.

It had opposed the freedom movement and its members, including its current top leadership, stand accused of “war crimes” — killing unarmed civilians at the behest of the Pakistani authorities of the day.

Its cadres had targeted religious minorities and those sympathetic to the freedom struggle. Bangladesh says three million people died during the 1971 freedom movement.

The Jamaat shared power with Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) during 2001-06 and had three ministers in the Khaleda Zia government.

Both parties lost badly in the election last December and are in the opposition.

(Courtesy: IANS)

Indian Muslim News - INTERFAITH RELATIONS

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in

Jewish-Muslim dialogue

Rabbi David Gordis is a leading American Jewish scholar, and president of the Hebrew College, Boston. Here he speaks to Yoginder Sikand on prospects for Jewish-Muslim dialogue.

Q: What sort of inter-faith dialogue work have you been engaged in?

A: I was ordained as a rabbi by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York, in 1964. JTSA is the central institution of the Conservative branch of Judaism, a movement which embraces the principle of the authority of halakhah, traditional Jewish law, but views it as a dynamic system which draws on the authority of revelation but views its continuing interpretation and development as both central and legitimate. I have spent my entire career in the service of the Jewish community, working in two principal areas: education and public policy. I have served as Professor of Rabbinics and Dean as well as vice president at the Jewish Theological Seminary, at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles, California, an institution founded by the JTSA in the early 1950s, and as the Executive Vice President of the American Jewish Committee, a major national Jewish organization devoted to human rights and Jewish and American public policy issues. I established a national Jewish think tank called the Wilstein Institute of Jewish Policy Studies in 1988 in California. I continue to direct the Institute and moved its center to Boston when I arrived there in 1993 to assume the presidency and Professorship of Rabbinics at Hebrew College, an eighty-year-old institution of higher Jewish learning. Hebrew College has just established a Rabbinical School, the first religious program in the school which is an institution open to people of all faiths which specializes in all aspects of Jewish culture and civilization as opposed to offering specifically religious training.

I have been involved in interfaith activities since my student days when I participated in the Jewish Theological Seminarys Institute for Religious and Social Studies, an inter-religious graduate school program. In California, I served as vice-president of the Academy for Judaic, Christian, Islamic Studies, which held public trialogue conversations at universities as well as in synagogues, mosques and churches. I was co-author with Rev. Dr. George Grose and Imam Dr. Muzamil Siddiqi of a book called The Abraham Connection, A Jew Christian and Muslim in Dialogue. In Boston, I co-chaired with the Cardinal and Imam Talal Eid an Institute called the Archives for Historic Documentation, an off-shoot of the Harvard University Semitics Museum. Hebrew College recently built a new campus on land acquired from the Andover-Newton Theological School, the oldest independent Protestant Seminary in the United States. Hebrew College has a range of joint programs with ANTS. An important one, undertaken at my initiative, was the creation of the Interreligious Center on Public Life, whose purpose is the exploring of insights from Judaism, Christianity and Islam relating to matters of public policy, including such areas as human rights and bioethical issues.

A number of inter-religious teaching activities go on, including a course in the Quran for Hebrew College faculty taught by a Muslim Scholar. I am also a participant in the Boston College Center for the Study of Jewish-Christian Relations.

Q: How do you see the question of dialogue while still respecting the autonomy of the religion of the other?

A: Dialogue only has meaning if it respects the autonomy of the other; absent that respect we have monologue. It is for each religious community, or those from each community who choose to participate in inter-religious conversation, to determine the terms under which he or she enters that conversation, the goals of the conversation and expectations from the process. True conversation may uncover areas of convergence but is most important in helping to understand areas of divergence. The question for participants is: Is that divergence threatening or problematical, or can it be a source of enlightenment and enrichment by broadening the perspectives and insights on the experience of being human that one gains from ones own religious tradition.

Q: What role do social liberation and spirituality that transcends confessional borders have to play in your understanding of inter-faith dialogue?

A: All religious traditions embody visions of a world transformed into something better than its current reality. Certainly, Judaism, Christianity and Islam are teleological and messianic in that they look forward to an ultimate redemption. In Jewish tradition, human beings are known as Gods partners in the work of redeeming the world and shaping a better and transformed reality. In my view the highest forms of religious activity are to seek to relate to the transcendent dimension of human experience and to work to redeem the world. I try to respond to this religious calling out of my tradition and culture, but I seek partners for this work from people of other traditions who inspire me, teach me, and remind me of the need for humility, the reality that none of us can legitimately claim exclusive access to truth which is Gods alone. In my view the spiritual and social transformation experiences of others are vital to my own spiritual strength.

Q: How do you think it is possible for missionary religions to genuinely respect the 'other' without simply seeking to convert the 'other' to oneself?

A: While openness to others who seek to join a religious tradition and community is no problem, active missionizing makes inter-religious conversation difficult if not impossible. Missionizing implies relegating the tradition of the other to an inferior position. It embodies an arrogation of truth to ones own tradition and therefore a rejection of the otherness of the other. Each religious individual, and our religious communities, must decide what is more important: to view the otherness of the other as part of Gods plan for the world from which we all can learn, or as a challenge and an affront which we are commanded to work to remove by attempting to transform the other into a copy of ones self. Only the first attitude allows for genuine inter-religious conversation. The second makes it impossible.

Q: Dominant forms of religion often stress the externalities of the law and ritual over the inner spiritual core. What barriers or challenges do you think this poses to inter-faith dialogue?

A: While some interpretations of halakhah in Judaism or sharia in Islam suggest that inter-religious conversation is forbidden, other interpretations reject this view, and adherents of these traditions have found ways of dealing with legal impediments to inter-religious conversation. In Jewish tradition, non-Jews are not obligated to observe the halakhah but only certain fundamental ethical values such as rejecting idolatry and incest, formulated as the Noachide laws.

Life presents us with perceptions and experiences which sometimes appear to be, if not in conflict with one another, at least, in tension with one another. One of these dyadic pairs is independence-dependence. Our religious traditions and communities have separate histories and trajectories which have shaped powerful and impressive religious cultures and rich community life. But more than ever before, these independent religious communities and cultures must come to terms with the reality of the interdependence of all humanity. Prior to our identity as Jew, Christian or Muslim, prior to our identity as male or female, as Indian, British or American, is our fundamental human identity. Both the nobility and the tragedy of human experience are universal. They cross religious and national lines. This must be part of the religious insight and teaching of all religious traditions. Our very survival on this planet is dependent on our successfully navigating this dyadic pair.

Q: What sort of interactions have you had with Muslim groups, and what have their reactions been to your own inter-faith dialogue efforts?

A: Some of the most moving experiences of my life have come in the context of interacting with Muslims. I recall one of our trialogue programs at a mosque in California. A Muslim woman who was a member of the audience was in tears when she told me that she had not believed that such a program was possible and that if she had not known that I was a rabbi she would have thought she was hearing an Imam. I would often ask my colleague and friend Imam Siddiqi what he as a Muslim would like me to know and feel about Islam, knowing as he did that I was not going to embrace Islam as my faith. My friendships with Muslims (and Christians, for that matter) have been meaningful and nurturing (I hope for both sides) not in spite of our differences but precisely because of these differences. The principal challenge: See difference as a potential blessing and not as a problem and challenge.

Q: How do you see contemporary Jewish-Muslim relations and prospects for dialogue between the two?

A: The current state of Jewish-Muslim relations is mixed. There are serious efforts to build bridges of understanding and mutual respect in Israel, Europe and the United States, but political controversy, particularly over Israel-Palestine, compounded by continued violence and a lack of quality leadership on both sides, all contribute to a troubled relationship. While efforts to build human bridges must continue, so that the other is viewed as a person and not simply as a disembodied political adversary, our religious traditions themselves have a great responsibility in this area. Judaism and Islam must begin to teach a different view of the other than that which has characterized their teaching in the past. Instead of sustaining exclusive claims to truth and virtue, our religious leadership and educational institutions must attune their constituents and students to being able to hear, understand and respect competing narratives. The past can not be undone, but a future must be constructed which is sensitive to these competing narratives, both of which are true! A two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine issue appears to be the only approach but the objective should not be isolating the two communities even if that is necessary for the moment to deal with violence and passions on both sides, but rather creating interrelationships, economic, social and cultural, which can be enriching and ennobling on both sides. Religious leadership has a major role to play in encouraging the respective communities to seek this resolution, which can not only ease the current catastrophic relationship, but which can bring us closer to the fulfillment of a redeemed world in which we can live together in mutual respect and be enhanced by the presence of the other.

Our Mission is to encourage individuals to develop an open mind and an open heart toward their follow beings. If we can learn to accept and respect the God given uniqueness of each one of the 7 billion of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge. We believe that knowledge leads to understanding and understanding to acceptance and appreciation of a different point of view.

Indian Muslim News - EDUCATION

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in ,

MP Maulana Qasmi lobbying for AMU campus in Kishanganj

By Manzar Bilal

It was one of the hot news stories during the recently conducted Lok Sabha elections that Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) campus would be established in Kishanganj district of Bihar also. This news brought smile on the faces of those minority students who have talent and capacity for higher education but can not access to any good university due to their poverty and lack of sources.

But as election came to an end government became silent on the issue of establishment of the campus which is ending the hopes of poor students. Local media says that the AMU campus which was to be established in Kishanganj now would be in Murshidabad district of West Bengal because Bihar government did not show interest in providing land required for the campus.

Recently a team of Muslim intellectuals requested Lok Sabha Member from Kishanganj Maulana Asrarul Haque Qasmi to intervene. Maulana Asrarul Haque Qasmi met AMU Vice Chancellor Mr. Abdul Azis and appealed to him to open the AMU campus in Kishanganj, saying that the district has 67% Muslim population but they are lagging in both education and economic fields.

Mr. Abdul Azis said that AMU decided to open its campuses in Bhopal (MP), Kishanganj (Bihar), Murshidabad (West Bengal), Malapuram (Kerala) and Pune (Maharashtra) and appealed to the related states to provide at least 300 acres of land for the purpose. While some states kept silent on the matter Bihar chief minister Mr. Nitish Kumar promised to provide land but he did not take any action for that.

Maulana Asrarul Haque Qasmi informed the media persons that AMU VC promised that as soon as land is provided he will take steps to open a campus in Kishanganj.

Maulana Qasmi said that he would apply his all sources and make efforts to open the campus in Kishanganj. For that he will soon meet chief minister Mr. Nitish Kumar and would request to provide land as soon as possible. Your browser may not support display of this image.

In the Budget 2009-10, the Central government has allocated Rs 25 crore each for the AMU campus in Kerala and West Bengal.

(Courtesy: TwoCircles.net)

Indian Muslim News - WOMEN

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in ,

Can Muslim Women Work Outside Their Homes?

By Maulvi Waris Mazhari

(Translated from Urdu by Yoginder Sikand)

Some traditional ulema are of the view that Muslim women must not work outside their homes. They even argue that women can step out of their homes only under extreme necessity. Otherwise, they insist, they must remain within the four walls of their homes. Ironically, there are no Quranic commandments that sanction these prohibitions. Consequently, sharp differences among Islamic scholars continue to remain concerning these matters. In this regard, my personal opinion is reflected in a hadith report, according to which the Prophet is said to have declared that one should ask ones heart, no matter what fatwa a mufti might give on a particular matter. In other words, in such cases one must follow ones conscience.

I see no harm in women taking up employment out of their homes, provided, of course, their respect and honour are protected and their work does not cause their children and husband to suffer or be neglected. In some situations, in fact, it may even be a dire necessity, rather than a matter of choice, for women to seek employment out of their homes. Such, for instance, may be the case for divorced or widowed women with no source of sustenance or for a woman whose husband does not earn enough to properly maintain the family. If a woman seeks to work out of the home with the intention of using her earnings to help the poor or for spending her income on pious causes, I feel she can do so, keeping in mind, of course, the provisos mentioned above.

Unfortunately, there is no unanimity or consensus among the ulema on the issue of women working outside their homes. There is, as I suggested above, no evidence that they can cite from the Quran and the corpus of Hadith to back the contention that such employment is absolutely haram or forbidden. From earliest times onwards, many Muslim women, particularly from poor families, have been working outside their homes, mostly because this was an economic compulsion. The opinion of some ulema banning this has never been enforced anywhere in the Muslim world. That is why today, in many Muslim countries, even in those that style themselves as Islamic states, such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, women can be found working in different spheres of the economy, in both the public as well as private sectors.

There is even early Islamic precedent for Muslim women working outside their homes. For instance, the Caliph Umar appointed a woman, Shifa Bint Abdullah, as the administrator of the market in Madinah. Obviously, for her work she had to regularly visit the market, inspect how people were conducting their businesses and interact and talk with the businessmen, most of who must have been men. Today, in contrast, many ulema might balk at a woman taking up such a job. They might argue that a market is a centre of materialism, the very opposite of spiritualism, and that a woman working out of her house, and, that too in a market, would cause strife, and that she might even lose her morals. Yet, the Caliph Umar appointed Shifa Bint Abdullah to this post although he could well have chosen a man for this purpose had he wanted to.

As I said earlier, I see no harm in a Muslim woman working outside her home, even if she has to interact with men in her workplace, provided, of course, the environment is decent and she can preserve her modesty. Even in the Prophets time, interaction between the genders was never forbidden, contrary to what some people might think. In the early years of Muslim history, Muslim women would go out to purchase and sell things and even participated in battles.

Some people might claim that the Quran explicitly prohibits Muslim women from going out of their homes. To support this claim, they often refer to the following verses in the Surah Al-Ahzab of the Quran:

O ye wives of the Prophet! Ye are not like any other women. If ye keep your duty (to Allah), then be not soft of speech, lest he in whose heart is a disease aspire (to you), but utter customary speech. And stay in your houses. ( Quran 33: 32-33)

What they ignore or forget is that the above-quoted commandment ordering the wives of the Prophet to stay in their houses was applicable precisely to them, and not to all Muslim women. According to some scholars of the Quran, Umar Faruq advised the Prophet to ask his wives to adopt seclusion within their homes because all sorts of people, good as well as bad, used to come to the Prophets house to meet him. It was on this occasion, they say, that these verses were revealed.

Many traditional Indian ulema, however, continue to insist that Muslim women must not seek outside employment or even go out of their homes. Still, I would say, there has been at least some attitudinal change in some ulema circles in this regard. To cite an instance, some years ago a Mufti of the Dar ul-Ulum at Deoband issued a fatwa forbidding Muslim women from contesting elections. Shortly after, however, he rescinded this fatwa and issued a fresh one, declaring it permissible for Muslim women to participate in elections. I do not know why, and on what basis, he changed his opinion, but this case illustrates the fact that, slowly, the views of some traditional Indian ulema on issues related to women are beginning to change. At the same time, it is true that probably the majority of the Indian ulema still remain wedded to their traditional opinions about womens employment. These are men who have been reared on traditional or medieval fiqh texts, and whose lives are restricted to teaching within the walls of their madrasas.

Today, however, we have an increasing number of younger ulema who are more socially engaged, have knowledge of contemporary issues and an awareness of the demands of modern world. They know the concerns and problems of the new generationand this includes the issue of womens employmentand desire to provide appropriate leadership to it. I am optimistic that these ulema will come to play an important and more socially relevant role, including as far as womens issues are concerned, in the coming decades.

[Yoginder Sikand works with the Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Social Policy at the National Law School, Bangalore. He can be contacted on ysikand@yahoo.com]

Indian Muslim News - HUMAN RIGHTS

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in

Text of the NHRC order on Batla House encounter

Full text of the order that said that Delhi Police acted in self-defense during Batla House encounter.

NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION

NEW DELHI

Name of the complainant : Shri Kamran Siddique

Gen.Secretary, Real Cause,

New Delhi

Case No. : 2811/30/8/08-09-FE

Date : 20th July, 2009

PROCEEDINGS

Two persons namely Md.Atif Ameen and Md.Sajid were killed in a shootout at L-18, Batla House, Jamia Nagar, Delhi on 19th September, 2008. The police claims that the slain persons were involved in serial bomb blasts which had occurred in different parts of Delhi on 13th September, 2008 killing 26 persons and causing injury to 133 others. Participation in terrorist activities is not, however, the issue before the Commission. That is a question to be decided by the Court in a criminal trial. The Commission will not, therefore, dwell on the issue whether the two persons were engaged in terrorist activities or not.

The scope of enquiry before the Commission is very limited. The only question which we propose to consider is whether the police had opened fire without any justification or it had acted in the exercise of the Right of self defence. If the police had a reasonable cause to apprehend danger to the life of any member of the police team, it had the legal right to act in self defence and the Right of self defence extended to causing death. Section 100 of IPC enumerates the circumstances in which a person can voluntarily cause the death of a person in exercise of the Right of Private Defence.

Enquiries are conducted by the Commission in accordance with the provisions of Section 17 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993. Section 17 does not contemplate an adversarial proceeding. It empowers the Commission to call for information or report from the Central Government or any State Government or any other authority. If on the material placed before it, the Commission is satisfied that no further enquiry is required, it may not proceed with the complaint.

In this case Shri Kamran Siddiqui, General Secretary, Real Cause made a complaint on 19th September, 2008 alleging that “today at around 10.30 a.m. morning the team of Special Cell of Delhi Police came at L-18, Batla House, Okhla, New Delhi and surrounded the said place/area and after one hour encounter, two dead bodies was recovered by the Special Cell from the top/fourth floor of the L-18, Batla House, Okhla, New Delhi. Some witnesses said that the Special Cell came with 2/3 persons covered their faces from black cloth. When the Special Cell came, the said persons are not with them and then came 2/3 bodies (dead bodies)”. The complainant urged the Commission to order CBI enquiry and also “to enquire about the statement of the Special Cell of Delhi Police that two persons run away from the said place i.e. L-18, Batla House, Okhla. When the police already covered the said area then how the said two persons were gone away from the said place.”

The Commission took cognizance of the complaint on 23rd September, 2008 and directed, as follows:- “Commissioner of Police, Delhi is directed to take appropriate action with regard to the investigation of the case as per guidelines laid down by the Commission in the letter dated 2nd December, 2003 of the Chairperson, NHRC to the Chief Ministers of all States.”

Pursuant to the direction of the Commission, Shri R.P. Upadhayay, Additional Commissioner of Police, Vigilance, Delhi submitted a report dated 23rd October, 2008, which is reproduced below:-

“With reference to your Office Notice No. 2811/30/8/08-09-FE/UC/M-1, I am to state that the facts of the case, in brief, are that on 13.9.2008, serial blast incidents were reported at Gaffar Market, Karol Bagh, Central Park and Barakhamba Road, Connaught Place and Greater Kailash, New Delhi resulting in 25 deaths and injuries to 133 innocent persons apart from damage to properties. Three bombs were diffused at Regal, Central Park, Children’s Park India Gate, New Delhi. The team of Special Cell deployed informers and mounted technical surveillance to trace the culprits. The intelligence inputs were exchanged with the Central Intelligence Agencies and various states targeted by Indian Mujahideen. The technical surveillance/analysis revealed that one Atif @ Bashir r/o Azamgarh, UP, involved in the serial blast incidents in Delhi was, at present, residing somewhere at Batla House, Jamia Nagar, Delhi.

On 19.09.2008, specific information was received that Atif @ Bashir was residing on top floor flat No. 108 of building L-18, Batla House, Delhi. On the basis of this information, Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma of Special Cell, Delhi along with few staff entered into the building to conduct raid at the said flat whereas remaining team members remained at ground floor to cover the building. The team knocked at the main door of the flat and disclosed identity but the occupants of the flat did not respond. Then the team, in order to enter the flat, pushed the main door but was found bolted from inside. Thereafter, the team went to another door of the flat and found it unbolted. The team members entered the flat through the side door to apprehend the suspects. The occupants of the flat opened fire on the police team to evade arrest. The team members also fired in self-defence and in order to apprehend the inmates. During the cross firing, Inspr. Mohan Chand Sharma and HC Balwant Singh and two militants sustained bullet injuries while two other militants managed to escape from the flat by firing on the police party. The injured police officers and the militants were removed to Hospitals. Two pistols of .30 calibre were found lying near the injured militants. During the cursory search of flat, one AK series rifle along with, two magazines containing 30 live rounds each was recovered from the far end right side room of the flat. One militant namely Mohd. Saif s/o Sadaab Ahmad r/o V & PO Snjarpur, P.S. Sarai Meer, Tehsil Nizamabad, Distt. Azamgarh, UP surrendered before the police party inside the flat. Names of the escaped militants were revealed by Moh. Saif as Junaid @ Ariz and Shahnawaj @ Pappu. Both the injured militants were declared brought dead at the hospital. Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma also succumbed to his injuries at the hospital. HC Balwant Singh is still admitted in Trauma Centre, AIIMS, Delhi. A report was accordingly sent to Secy. General, NHRC, New Delhi vide DCP/Spl. Cell’s Office letter No. 2445/SO/DCP/Spl. Cell dated 20.09.2008, copy of which was duly endorsed to MHA, L.G. and DCsP/South Distt. & Vigilance.

The complainant has raised doubts about the statement of police pertaining to escape of two persons when the entire area was cordoned off which is baseless. It is true that there is only one entry/exit from the stairs but there are 8 flats on four floors through these stairs and each of these 8 flats is having 2 entry/exit gates. Flat No. 108 of L-18, Batla House is also having two gates. While firing was going on between inmates and police, two of the militants later identified as Ariz @ Junaid and Shahbaz @ Pappu managed to escape from the flat from one of the gates. Many of the inmates of the flats in the said building came out on hearing the gun shots and the militants took advantage of the situation and managed to escape.

During investigation, accused Mohd. Saif admitted that he is the member of terrorist module “Indian Mujahideen” responsible for the serial blast incidents dated 13.09.2008 of Delhi. He also disclosed his involvements in other blasts incidents in Uttar Pradesh, Jaipur (Rajasthan), Ahmedabad etc. and further disclosed the names of his associates involved in serial blast incidents in various states of India. The information about involvements of these outfit members were shared with Central Intelligence Agencies and other State Police like Rajasthan, Mumbai, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh. The members of Indian Mujahideen have since been arrested in Mumbai, Uttar Pradesh and other states also. Five members of this terrorist outfit have also been arrested in Delhi serial blasts dated 13.9.2008. The investigation of the bomb blast cases is still in progress.

The allegations levelled by the complainant against police are strongly denied. Proper investigation into the encounter vide FIR No. 208 dated 19.9.2008 u/s 186/353/307/332/34 IPC and 25/27 Arms Act, P.S. Jamia Nagar, South Distt., Delhi, was initially carried out by the local police of South District which is an independent Unit from Special Cell, Delhi. The case has since then been transferred to the Crime Branch of Delhi Police by C.P., Delhi, which is a specialized agency. In view of the overall facts and circumstances of the case, no CBI enquiry is required in the matter.”

On receiving another communication dated 14th October, 2008 from Shri Kamran Siddiqui, the Commission made further query from the Commissioner of Police vide proceedings dated 17th October, 2008. Shri Satish Chandra, Special Commissioner of Police (Vigilance), Delhi responded to the query vide communication dated 19th November, 2008. He reported as follows:-

“The investigation of the case relating to incident of shootout at L-18, Batla House, Jamia Nagar, Delhi was earlier being conducted by the officers of P.S. Jamia Nagar and on 1.10.2008, in order to conduct an in depth, scientific and impartial investigation into the matter, the case was transferred to Crime Branch. A report of the Crime Branch which is investigating case FIR No.208, P.S. Jamia Nagar pertaining to the incident on 19th September, 2008 is enclosed at Annexure-I. During the investigation of this case, the investigating agency has got the spot examined by a team of experts of CFSL, CBI, CGO Complex, New Delhi. The post mortem examination of the deceased was conducted at All India Institute of Medical Sciences by a panel of three doctors (copies of the post mortem reports of Inspr. Mohan Chand Sharma, Atif and Sajid are enclosed at Annexures-II, III and IV). The exhibits have been sent to CFSL, CBI, CGO Complex, New Delhi who would besides other ballistic and biological tests also conduct dermal nitrate tests from the swabs taken from the hands of deceased militants. The investigating agency has also examined the residents of the immediate neighbourhood of L-18, Batla House, Jamia Nagar, New Delhi. Efforts have been made to associate the next of kin of the deceased militants in the investigation of the case.”

On the specific queries made by the Commission, Shri Satish Chandra, Special Commissioner of Police (Vigilance), Delhi further informed as follows:-

“1. Issue regarding the magisterial probe into the events relating to the incident dated 19.9.2008 has been referred to Lt. Governor, Delhi vide C.P., Delhi reference No.3875/CP/Delhi dated 6.11.2008.

2. A case vide FIR No.208/08 dated 19.9.2008 u/s 186/353/332/307/302/34 IPC and 25/27 Arms Act has been registered at PS Jamia Nagar, Delhi and an in-depth scientific and impartial investigation into the matter is being carried out by Interstate Cell of Crime Branch, which is a specialized and an independent unit.

3. On the request of Crime Branch, Director CFSL, CBI, CGO Complex accompanied with other officials of ballistic, biological and other staff inspected the scene of crime on 13.10.2008 that lifted exhibits from the spot. Only one official of the Special Cell SI Rahul Kumar who is the complainant of the case FIR No.208 dated 19.9.2008 P.S Jamia Nagar, Delhi had accompanied the Crime Branch team on their request.”

He also annexed with his communication an interim report of Crime Branch as Annexure-I and another report of Joint Commissioner of Police, Special Cell as Annexure-V.

The interim report of Shri Neeraj Thakur, DCP (Crime & Rly.), Delhi, which was annexed as Annexure-I with the communication dated 19th November, 2008 mentioned that “I.O. examined the witnesses, got the scene inspected, prepared the site plan, got the scene photographed and also got the scene inspected by a draftsman for preparation of scale site plan. He seized 02 pistols along with 01 live cartridge which was found loaded in one of the pistol and one AK series Rifle with 02 magazines having 30 live cartridges each. A bullet proof jacket having two bullet marks have also been seized in this case along with 19 empty cases of 9 mm, 08 empty cases of 30mm and 3 empty cases of AK 47 and 13 lead bullets from the scene of crime. He also lifted blood samples from various places of scene of crime i.e. Flat No.108, L-18, Batla House. I.O. also got the post mortem conducted of the deceased namely Mohd. Sajid and Mohd. Atif and Police Officer Inspr. Mohan Chand Sharma. He also produced the post mortem report of all the above three persons. He also seized the clothes of the dead, blood samples, swab from hands and injuries and metallic objects from dead bodies.”

The sequence of events was narrated by Shri Karnail Singh, Joint Commissioner of Police, Special Cell, Delhi in his note which was annexed by Special Commissioner of Police (Vigilance) with his communication dated 19th November, 2008 as Annexure-V. The relevant extract of the note is reproduced below:-

“A team headed by Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma, first went to the place to apprehend the accused, who were all without bullet proof jackets for the reason explained above. A backup team in bullet proofs and AK-47 assault rifle was stationed at a distance. Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma who was heading the first team, directed SI Dharmender to go into Flat No.108 in the garb of an executive of one of the mobile service providers with the express purpose of fixing the identity of the user of mobile number 9811004309.

SI Dharmender first went upstairs on the top floor of Flat No.108 of L-18, Batla House. He heard couple of voices in the apartment and decided to come back to inform Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma who then decided to go together to check the inmates in the apartment. A seven member team including Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma went to the top floor of this building, where this Flat No.108 was located. The building was such that it had four floors and each floor had two apartments. Flat No.108 also had two entry points in L-shape.

Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma knocked the front door and asked them to open the door informing them of their being police personnel. Nobody opened the door. He then tried to push the door but it was found bolted from inside. He then pushed the other door which was not found bolted from inside and the team led by Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma entered the flat through this door. Immediately, a volley of fire came on the police team from the right side of the drawing room as well as the left side room of the apartment. The police team also fired back in self defence and with a view to apprehend the militant. In this shootout, Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma and HC Balwant got bullet injuries. One of the militants later identified as Mohd Atif Ameen @ Bashir sustained bullet injuries while two militants later identified as Ariz @ Junaid and Shahbaz @ Pappu managed to escape from the spot while firing at the police party. Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma and HC Balwant Singh were brought downstairs by the other team members, however, three members of the team stayed back in the flat. The back-up team, headed by ACP Sanjeev Kumar Yadav which was in bullet proof jackets immediately rushed to the flat in order to rescue the team members and apprehend the militants holed inside the flat. Again a shoot out by militant later identified as Mohd Sajid @ Pankaj started on which the back-up team also fired and in the cross-firing that took place Head Constable Rajbir Singh was hit on the bullet proof jacket by bullets fired by the militant Mohd Sajid @ Pankaj. In the cross fire by the back up team, militant Mohd Sajid @ Pankaj sustained injuries whereas another militant identified as Mohd Saif @ Rahul Sharma surrendered before the police party. Both the injured militants Mohd Atif Ameen and Mohd Sajid were removed to hospital and they were declared brought dead at AIIMS Hospital. Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma later succumbed to his injuries at the hospital the same day.”

The report dated 19th November, 2008 which was received from Shri Satish Chandra, Special Commissioner of Police (Vigilance), Delhi was considered along with its annexures by the Commission on 22nd December, 2008. The following observations and direction were made:-

“The Commission had formulated guidelines to be followed in cases of deaths in police encounters and circulated the same to the Chief Ministers/Administrators of all States/Union Territories vide letter dated 2nd December, 2003. One of the guidelines is that a magisterial enquiry must invariably be held in all cases of death which occur in the course of police action. Addl. Commissioner of Police (Vigilance) has communicated that “the issue regarding the magisterial probe in the events relating to the incident dated 19.9.2008 has been referred to Lt. Governor, Delhi.

Let the Commission be apprised of the decision taken by the Lt. Governor regarding the magisterial probe. Response within six weeks.”

A communication dated 21st January, 2009 was then received from Shri Ashish Kumar, Deputy Secretary (Home) and he informed the Commission that the Lt. Governor of Delhi had declined to order a magisterial enquiry in the case. Relevant part of the communication is reproduced below:-

“NHRC had asked whether a magisterial enquiry has been ordered pertaining to the incident of September 19, 2008. This issue has been examined at length and the Hon’ble Lt. Governor, Delhi has not found any ground for the issuance of orders for magisterial enquiry due to the following reasons.

i. The Indian Mujahideen group had been found to be involved in terrorist activities in different parts of the country for the last several years.

ii. The interrogation of the accused also indicates that Atif and Sajid who died during the encounter were not only involved in Delhi blasts of 13 September, 2008 but were involved in other terrorist activities committed by Indian Mujahideen.

iii. The died militant Mohd Atif Ameen was found to be a member of SIMI. He was also found heading the North Indian module of Indian Mujahideen from Delhi. He was found to be Pak trained militant and responsible for serial blast incidents in Delhi on 13.9.2008, Ahmedabad blasts of 26.7.2008, Jaipur blasts of 13.05.2008, UP Court blasts of 23.11.2007 and others.

iv. Mohd. Atif Ameen was also found studying in M.A. (Human Rights) in Jamia University Delhi on fake Graduation Degree documents of University of Allahabad, U.P.

v. Lot of data related to Delhi and Ahmedabad blasts was recovered from the laptops and mobile phones of Mohd Atif Ameen.

vi. Another died militant Mohd Sajid was also found to be an active member of the Indian Mujjahideen and responsible for various blast incidents including blasts in Delhi, Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Uttar Pradesh in 2007-08.

vii. The bodies of the deceased militants and the deceased officer Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma were examined by a Board of 3 Doctors at All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi.

viii. The investigation of the case related to Batla House shootout is being investigated by a different agency i.e. Crime Branch which is conducting an impartial and scientific investigation.

ix. That one of the militants Mohd Saif who had holed himself in the bathroom of the flat was apprehended unharmed, who also stated in his statement to the Crime Branch about the militants being armed with weapons and firing by them.

He has further observed that in these circumstances, when the police went to apprehend the accused and they were fired upon, there was no option with them but to open fire in self defence and to arrest the accused. The modules of the Indian Mujahideen have conducted bomb explosions in various parts of the country including Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh etc. subjecting police officers, who have worked out this case at the cost of loosing a gallant colleague and nearly loosing another would be highly demoralizing and would weaken the resolve of the police officers to fight against terrorists. A police officer confronted by armed terrorists should not have to start thinking whether to die of the firing from the militants or if the militant dies to face the magisterial enquiries which are to follow. The Crime Branch is already conducting investigation of the shootout. Two accused persons are yet to be arrested. Crime Branch is expected to file its charge sheet in the Court shortly where after the case will be subjected to due judicial scrutiny.

In view of the above facts and circumstances of the case, the Hon’ble Lt. Governor, Delhi did not find the police action in Batla House a fit case for initiation of any Magisterial Enquiry at this stage.”

In the meantime ANHAD, an NGO filed a Writ Petition No.WP( C) 7368/2008 in the High Court of Delhi and National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) was impleaded as a Respondent in the said case by the Hon’ble High Court vide order dated 22nd January, 2009. The Hon’ble High Court also directed the Standing Counsel for the State to produce a copy of the decision taken by the Lt. Governor. Since the propriety of the order passed by the Lt. Governor was to be considered by the High Court, the Commission noted in its proceedings dated 9th February, 2009 that it would not be proper for it to hold parallel proceedings. The enquiry was accordingly suspended by the Commission. On 20th May, 2009, the Hon’ble High Court requested the Commission to complete the enquiry and file the enquiry report before 22nd July, 2009. Thereafter, the Commission resumed the enquiry in accordance with the provisions of Section 17 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.

Although the benefit of magisterial enquiry report is not available, the post mortem reports of Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma, Mohd. Atif Ameen and Mohd. Sajid, the injury report of H.C. Balwant Singh, the biological examination report, the serological examination report and the fire arms examination report have been received in the Commission.

The post mortem report of Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma shows the following ante mortem injuries:-

“1. Surgical therapeutic incised wound on lt. shoulder and lt. Upper arm of size 12 x 1.5 cm x muscle deep with extravasation of blood in underlying muscular layers. A small area of size 3 x 2 cm of contusion was seen on both sides of wound margin 3 cm lateral to medial end of wound on lt. shoulder. [ENTRY WOUND – EXPLORED & DEBRIDED].

2. Surgical therapeutic incised wound vertically placed in middle 1/3rd of lt. arm laterally of size 9 x 2 cm x muscle deep with extravastion of blood in muscular layers underneath. The wound was situated 18 cm below lt. shoulder top & 8 cm above lt. elbow joint. [EXIT WOUND – EXPLORED & DEBRIDED].

On dissection injury no.(1) & (2) were found communicating with each other through muscular layers. There was extensive extravastion of blood in muscular layers of left upper arm & lt. shoulder region. No bony injury seen.

3. Stitched wound with staples in midline on ant. abdominal wall, 31 cm in length. On opening the wound through all layers of ant. abdominal wall, small intestine, mesentery and omentum was found surgically repaired at multiple places with extravasation of blood in peritoneal cavity. Mesenteric contusions were also seen at multiple places. There was retroperitoneal blood collection in right side lower flank of abdominal cavity, extravasation of blood in right pelvic region with fracture of right hip bone (upper iliac region).

4. Surgical therapeutic incised wound on right side anterior abdominal wall of size 2.5 x 1 cm x peritoneal cavity deep situated 10 cm lateral to midline,30 cm below right nipple and 14 cm above midinguinal point. [DRAIN TUBE WOUND].

5. Surgical therapeutic incised wound on left hypochondriac region of ant. abdominal wall of size 4 x 2 cm x peritoneal cavity deep with small area of blackish abrasion collar (1.2 cm). The wound is situated 14 cm below lt. nipple, 117 cm above lt. heel of foot, 55 cm below top of head and 10 cm lateral to midline. [ENTRY WOUND – EXPLORED & DEBRIDED].

6. Lacerated wound with outward protrusion of tissue through hole of wound of size 1.5 x 1 cm x pelvic bone deep with underneath extravasation of blood, situated on Rt. upper thigh posterolateral aspect. [EXIT WOUND].

The Autopsy Surgeon also noted the co-relation of post mortem findings, medico legal report and findings mentioned in death summary of Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma as follows:-

“A. INJURY NO.1 as mentioned in PM Report could be entry wound of firearm and INJURY NO.2 could be exit would of injury No.1.

B. INJURY N0.5 as mentioned in PM Report could be entry wound and INJURY NO.6 could be exit wound related to injury No.5.

C. INJURY NO.4 could be due to abdominal drain tube put after surgery.”

It may be mentioned that the terminology like “entry wound” and “exit wound” is used only in relation to gun shot wound. The point at which the bullet enters the human body is called entry wound and the point at which it exits after piercing the body is known as exit wound. After consideration of the post mortem findings of Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma, the Autopsy Surgeon opined that the cause of death “in this case is haemorrhagic shock due to fire arm injury to abdomen as mentioned which was sufficient to cause death in ordinary course of nature.”

The post mortem report of Mohd Atif Ameen mentions several ante mortem injuries including firearm wounds. The Autopsy Surgeon has opined that all the injuries are produced by firearm ammunition except injury No.7 which is produced by blunt force impact by object or surface. Injury No.7 is described in the post mortem report as follows “reddish brown abrasion of size 1.5 x 1 cm over outer and anterior aspect of right knee cap”

The post mortem report of Mohd Atif Ameen also mentions that swabs from both hands were taken in two bottles in AIIMS, sealed and handed over to the I.O. along with parcels containing clothes, blood in gauze piece, swabs from injuries and metallic objects recovered from injuries.

Similarly, the post mortem report of Mohd Sajid shows several ante mortem injuries including firearm entry wounds. It is also mentioned in the post mortem report of Mohd Sajid that swabs from both hands of the deceased were taken in two bottles, sealed and handed over to the I.O. along with sealed parcels containing cloths, blood in gauze piece and metallic objects recovered from injuries.

The medico legal certificate of H.C. Balwant Singh shows that he was taken by Constable Gurdeep to All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi on 19th September, 2008 at 11.49 A.M. The certificate records “alleged history of gun shot injury half hour ago at 11.15 A.M. on 19th September, 2009 during a police encounter with terrorists with one entry wound (?) of approximately .7 cm on right forearm dorsal aspect and one exit wound (?) of approximately 0.5 cm on right arm palmer aspect”

The opinion regarding the nature of injury is also given on the MLC of HC Balwant Singh in these words. “In reference to application submitted by I.O. Satish Sharma, Inspector, Crime Branch, Chanakyapuri on 14th May, 2009, along with copy of MLC, discharge summary, OPD treatment papers of Balwant. After going through above said documents (initialed by me), I am of the considered opinion that the nature of injury is grievous and could have been caused by gun shot injury”

The biological examination report and serological examination report of CFSL show that the blood stained clothes and blood samples of Mohd Atif Ameen and Mohd Sajid duly sealed with seal of “MSL Forensic Medicine JPNATC AIIMS, New Delhi”, the blood stained clothes of Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma duly sealed with the seal of “Holy Family Hospital, New Delhi”, the blood samples of Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma duly sealed with the seal of “MSL Forensic Medicine, JPNATC, AIIMS, New Delhi”, the blood samples of HC Balwant Singh duly sealed with seal of “CMO, JPNATC AIIMS, New Delhi” and samples of blood stained clothes taken from various places in Flat No.108, L-18, Batla House and duly sealed with the seal of “J.S” were received in the laboratory. On serological examination it was found that the blood group of Mohd Atif Ameen and Mohd Sajid both was “AB” and blood stains of the same group were found on the floor, gate, walls and furniture of Flat No.108, L-18, Batla House. The serological examination also established that the blood of HC Balwant Singh was of “A” group and blood stains of the same group were found from the lobby and drawing room of Flat No.108, L-18, Batla House.

The firearms examination report of CFSL shows that the cotton swab taken from the right hand of Mohd Sajid was contained in parcel No.8. The cotton swab taken from the right hand of Mohd Atif Ameen was in parcel No.17. Two .30 / 7.62 mm pistols which were recovered from Flat No.108 were sent to the expert in parcels No.36 to 37 and were marked W/2 and W/3 in the laboratory. The bullet proof jacket of HC Rajbir Singh was sent in parcel No.40. The bullet proof jacket has two bullet piercing marks on its front side. On probing the piercing marks two .30/7.62 mm fired bullets (marked BC/17 & BC/18 by the ballistic expert) were recovered in mutilated condition. Eight .30/7.62 mm fired cartridge cases (marked C/62 to C/69 in the laboratory) were sent in parcel No.38(b). After chemical analysis, test firing and microscopic examination in the laboratory, it was found that the two .30/7.62mm mutilated fired bullets BC/17 and BC/18 which were recovered from the front portion of bullet proof jacket contained in parcel No.40 had been fired from the .30mm pistol (W/3). Gun shot residue was detected in the contents of parcel No.8 and 17. Four fired cartridge cases (C/62 to C/65) contained in parcel No.38(b) had been fired from .30mm pistol (W/2) contained in parcel No.36. Four .30mm fired cartridge cases C/66 to C/69 contained in parcel No.39(b) had been fired from .30mm pistol (W/3) contained in parcel No.37.

It is noteworthy that Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma received injuries on the front portion of the body. According to post mortem report of Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma injury no. 1 is “an entry wound on the left shoulder and left upper arm” and injury no. 5 is also “an entry wound which is on left hypochondriac region of anterior abdominal wall 14 cm below left nipple”. The locus of firearm injuries found on the body of Inspector Mohand Chand Sharma corroborate the police version that a volley of bullets was fired on the police team as soon as it entered Flat No.108, L-18, Batla House through the side gate. HC Balwant Singh was also with Inspector Mohand Chand Sharma. He sustained fire arm entry wound on the dorsal aspect of right arm and the bullet exited through his palm. His blood was also found in the room and lobby of Flat No.108.

According to the police version, HC Rajbir Singh and other police personnel rushed to Flat No.108, L-18, Batla House as soon as Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma was injured. Bullets were fired on this team also. This is established by the fire arm examination report. The bullet proof jacket which HC Rajbir Singh was wearing was seized and was sent to the laboratory in sealed packet. As noted above, the expert observed that the jacket was having two bullet piercing marks on its front side and on probing the piercing marks two .30 mm fired bullets were recovered in mutilated condition. According to the expert, these bullets had been fired from the pistol W/3 which was found lying in the room of Flat No.108, L-18, Batla House. It may be mentioned that .30mm pistol W-3 did not belong to anyone in the police party. It is, therefore, obvious that it was used by one of the occupants of the flat. It would also be significant to note that the bullet piercing marks were found on the front side of the jacket. The jacket covers the chest portion of the person who wears it. This means that the person who had fired at HC Rajbir Singh had aimed at his chest, which is a vital part of the body.

As has been stated above, eight fired cartridge cases marked C/62 to C/69 were recovered from the flat. According to the ballistic expert, these cartridge cases had been fired from pistols W/2 and W/3. The two bullets BC/17 and BC/18 which were found embedded in the bullet proof jacket of HC Rajbir were also fired from the pistol W/3 according to the ballistic expert. The pistols exhibits W/2 and W/3 which were recovered from the flat did not belong to the police party. Who then had used these pistols? The answer is provided by the fire arms examination report. The swabs which were taken from the right hands of Mohd Atif Ameen and Modh Sajid by the doctors at the time of post mortem in AIIMS were sent in sealed bottles to CFSL for dermal nitrate tests in the laboratory. The same were found to contain gun shot residue. This conclusively establishes that Mohd Atif Ameen and Mohd Sajid had both used fire arms at the time of incident. It may be mentioned that the police had no role what-so-ever either in the taking of swabs from the hands of the two deceased or in the dermal nitrate tests of the same. The swabs were taken by the doctors in the AIIMS and the tests were conducted in the laboratory of CFSL, CBI.

Shri Kamran Siddiqui had filed Criminal Writ Petition No.114/2008 in the Supreme Court raising questions about the genuineness of the encounter. The petition was dismissed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court on 8th December, 2008. The verbatim copy of the writ petition was, however, filed by Shri Kamran Siddiqui before the Commission. The issues raised by him in the Writ Petition and also the averments made by him in the complaint have been carefully considered by the Commission and we find absolutely no merit in the same.

The complainant sees “something fishy” about the injuries sustained by Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma. He has mentioned some photographs published in the print media which show blood on the left shoulder only. He has also referred to a report published in “Mail Today” on 24th September, 2008. According to which three shots were fired at Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma on the back. He has also alleged that serious differences had cropped up between the “martyr” Mohan Chand Sharma and another police officer namely Rajbir Singh implying thereby that the death of Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma might be the result of intra departmental rivalry. All these doubts of the complainant have absolutely no basis. The post mortem report of Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma is conclusive proof of the fact that he had received a gun shot wound on the “hypochondriac region of the abdomen which completely rules out an attack on him from the backside.

The complainant has posed a question as to why Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma went to Flat No.108 in plain clothes when he was fully aware that there were terrorists inside and why he did not use the bullet proof jacket? It is quite likely that Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma did not consider it prudent to wear a bullet proof jacket lest it may arouse suspicion and alert the alleged terrorists. It is also likely that he did not apprehend that the occupants of the flat would be having weapons and they will immediately resort to firing. There can be various reasons and it will not be proper to speculate as to why Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma did not wear a bullet proof jacket.

The complainant also wants us to reject the theory of encounter because according to him the police version regarding escape of two terrorists from the scene is totally unbelievable. He points out that the whole area was cordoned off and premises No.L-18, Batla House was heavily guarded by the police force and there being only one staircase in the building it was not possible for any suspect to escape from the building. We are not inclined to examine this aspect in minute detail. As mentioned above, the enquiry is limited to the effect of encounter. There are two doors in the flat in question and there are two flats in each of the four floors. According to the police version a number of persons had got collected at the time of incident. In the melee it was possible for some persons to escape. At any rate, the alleged escape of two persons can have no bearing on the main incident in which Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma received fatal gun shot injuries and HC Balwant Singh also received grievous injuries and the action taken by the police party in self-defence which resulted in death of Mohd. Atif Ameen and Mohd. Sajid.

There can be no manner of doubt that firing was first resorted to by the occupants of the room on the police party. If the police party had first resorted to firing, the occupants of the room namely Mohd. Atif Ameen and Mohd. Sajid after receiving injuries from service weapons would have immediately fallen down and would not at all have been in any position to fire upon the police party. The fact that Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma and HC Balwant Singh received gun shot injuries leads to the only inference that firing was first resorted to by occupants of the room.

The police team had gone to L-18, Batla House on receipt of specific information. They had legal right to verify the information. The occupants of Flat No.108 were legally bound to cooperate with the police team and respond to their query. They had no cause or occasion to open fire at the police party. Since they resorted to firing causing serious injuries, the police party was fully entitled to defend itself by taking appropriate measures.

There is ample and sufficient material before us which leads to the irresistible conclusion that there was imminent danger to the life of members of the police party. In fact, Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma received serious gun shot injuries which proved fatal and HC Balwant Singh also received grievous gun shot injuries. The injuries were caused by persons who were armed with fire arms and had resorted to firing. Section 100 IPC lays down that the right of private defence of the body extends, under the restrictions mentioned in the last preceding section, to the voluntary causing of death or of any other harm to the assailant, if the offence which occasions the exercise of the right, may reasonably cause the apprehension that death or grievous hurt will otherwise be the consequence of such assault. The police party clearly acted in right of self-defence. In such circumstances, the action taken by the police party in which Mohd. Atif Ameen and Mohd. Sajid received fatal injuries and died is fully protected by law. We are clearly of the opinion that having regard to the material placed before us, it cannot be said that there has been any violation of human rights by the action of the police party. Since there was no violation of human rights, nothing further is required to be done by this Commission and the case is closed.

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