“Dear PM, the Special Cell is a group of licensed marauders,” Irshad Ali wrote to the prime minister when he was lodged in Tihar Jail. Ali’s emotional letter to the PM was a narrative of the harrowing experience he underwent at the hands of the special cell of Delhi police despite being an 'informer' for it. He had been arrested in 2006, charged under the explosive substance Act and arms Act, and remained in jail till 2011 when he was released after a court found him innocent.
Despite the ordeal, some could argue that Ali was lucky — Maqbool Shah and Mohammad Amir Khan, accused in separate cases, spent more than a decade of their youth in jails. Both of them had also been wrongly held without sufficient evidence. Once outside, with little to no vocational training, the best of their working years gone and sadddled with the stigma of having been jailbirds (terrorists, according to the charges), they have floundered in picking up the bits of their lives outside.
There are 16 such cases where people, deemed innocent by the court, were arrested by the Delhi Police's elite special cell on flimsy evidence.
A report, titled “Framed, Damned, Acquitted – Dossiers of a ‘Very’ Special Cell”, brought out by the Jamia Teachers Solidarity Association (JTSA) studied the 16 cases, of which 11 accused are from Kashmir. Manisha Sethi, president of the JTSA told Governance Now, “The report is not their side of story but looks at the courts' judgment. It is tragic and sad that these 16 people lost so much in their lives despite being innocent."
“Some cases like that of young Md. Amir Khan, which was a practically a open and shut case, where the prosecution had virtually no leg to stand on, got drawn out for 14 painful and long years,” the report noted.
According to the report, between 1992 and 2012 a large number of those arrested were acquitted of all charges by the courts. “The evidence that the report presents shows clearly that the acquittals were not simply for want of evidence. What judgment after judgment comments on is the manner in which the so-called evidence provided by the police and the prosecution was tampered with and fabricated, how story after story as presented by the prosecution was unreliable, incredulous, and appeared as concocted,” said the 200-page report.
Justice Raghav Sachar, also present at the release, said, “It is high time civil society stands up collectively and puts a stop to this kind of playing with the rights of citizens.”
Sethi added, “The special cell enjoys complete immunity in the name of securing nation. We don’t need any such kinds of forces which are a menace to society. There should be proper compensation and rehabilitation of 16 people immediately.”
Despite such damning report, Delhi police commissioner Neeraj Kumar, however, defended the special cell, which he had headed once as a joint commissioner. “Why don’t they list out the special cell's successes such as Parliament attack case, the Red Fort shootout and so on?” asked Kumar.
Read the report below.
Stories you might like