We, the undersigned members of the Delhi Teachers' Association (DUTA) are deeply concerned at the manner in which Abdul Rehman Geelani, a fellow teacher and a member of our union, has been arrested and kept under detention in connection with the December 13 attack on the parliament. There has been a consistent and brutal violation of his rights.
Several members of the DUTA as well as civil liberties activists have visited Geelani in prison and they have been told that he was first illegally detained and subsequently subjected to physical torture. He was stripped and hung upside down and brutally beaten and abused in communal terms. He has been made to sign blank sheets of paper and to make a statement that lie was not tortured. When produced before the magistrate in the presence of several high ranking police officers, he chose to keep quiet on the subject of torture fearing further physical violence. He told his visitors that his life has been under threat since lie has been shifted from ward 8 to ward 2 which houses people charged with heinous crimes. For three days his wife and two minor children – a daughter of 10 years and a son 6 years old – were detained at the Lodhi Colony police station and their whereabouts were not known to their family and friends.
To those who have met him, Geelani has repeatedly stated that he is innocent and had no direct or indirect connection with the attack on the parliament. But his voice has found no space in the atmosphere charged with jingoism and war hysteria. He seems to stand condemned by society and the media just because lie is a Kashmiri and a Muslim.
The authorities have so far not provided any evidence against Geelani. The rule of law in a democratic society demands presumption of innocence until proven guilty. Therefore, we urge the DUTA leadership to intervene in the matter by going to meet him in the jail, especially since lie himself has expressed the desire to talk to his union leaders. Secondly, the DUTA should also ensure that his fundamental rights as a citizen are protected while lie is in custody. Thirdly, the DUTA should attempt to find out the reasons for his continued detention. If there is no evidence against him, we should urge upon the authorities not to continue to incarcerate him unnecessarily.
We would like to remind you that on an earlier occasion, in 1985, under the presidentship of Murli Manohar Prasad Singh, the DUTA had successfully intervened in the case of Harmeet Singh of Khalsa College who had been wrongly booked under TADA.
Anand Chakravarti, Virginius Xaxa, Man-an Mohanty, Tripta Wahi, Vijay Singh, D Manjit, Rita Sinha, Lata Singh, K.M. Singh, Mukul Manglik, Dilip Basu, Harish Dhawan and 147 others.
Economic and Political Weekly April 13, 2002
Forum For Democratic Struggle
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