I have so far been silent on Afzal issue because I was mostly unaware of details. Even now I am, but these questions raised by Arundhati Roy rattled my head.
Question 1: For months before the attack on parliament, both the government and the police had been saying that parliament could be attacked. On December 12, 2001, then prime minister A.B. Vajpayee warned of an imminent attack. On December 13, it happened. Given that there was an “improved security drill,” how did a car bomb packed with explosives enter the parliament complex?
Question 2: Within days of the attack, the Special Cell of the Delhi police said it was a meticulously planned joint operation of Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba. They said the attack was led by a man called Mohammad who was also involved in the hijacking of flight IC-814 in 1998. (This was later refuted by the Central Bureau of Investigation.) None of this was ever proved in court. What evidence did the Special Cell have for its claim?
Question 3: The entire attack was recorded live on closed-circuit television (CCTV). Two Congress Party members of parliament, Kapil Sibal and Najma Heptullah, demanded in parliament that the CCTV recording be shown to the members. They said that there was confusion about the details of the event. The chief whip of the Congress Party, Priyaranjan Dasmunshi, said, “I counted six men getting out of the car. But only five were killed. The closed-circuit TV camera recording clearly showed the six men.” If Dasmunshi was right, why did the police say that there were only five people in the car? Who was the sixth person? Where is he now? Why was the CCTV recording not produced by the prosecution as evidence in the trial? Why was it not released for public viewing?
Question 4: Why was parliament adjourned after some of these questions were raised?
Question 5: A few days after December 13, the government declared that it had “incontrovertible evidence” of Pakistan’s involvement in the attack, and announced a massive mobilization of almost half a million soldiers to the Indo-Pakistan border. The subcontinent was pushed to the brink of nuclear war. Apart from Afzal’s “confession,” extracted under torture (and later set aside by the supreme court), what was the “incontrovertible evidence”?
Question 6: Is it true that the military mobilization to the Pakistan border had begun long before the December 13 attack?
Question 7: How much did this military standoff, which lasted for nearly a year, cost? How many soldiers died in the process? How many soldiers and civilians died because of mishandled landmines, and how many peasants lost their homes and land because trucks and tanks were rolling through their villages and landmines were being planted in their fields?
Question 8: In a criminal investigation, it is vital for the police to show how the evidence gathered at the scene of the attack led them to the accused. The police have not managed to show how they connected Geelani to the attack. And how did the police reach Afzal? The Special Cell says Geelani led them to Afzal. But the message to look out for Afzal was actually flashed to the Srinagar police before Geelani was arrested. So how did the Special Cell connect Afzal to the December 13 attack?
Question 9: The courts acknowledge that Afzal was a surrendered militant who was in regular contact with the security forces, particularly the STF of Jammu and Kashmir police. How do the security forces explain the fact that a person under their surveillance was able to conspire in a major militant operation?
Question 10: Is it plausible that organizations such as Lashkar-e-Taiba or Jaish-e-Mohammad would rely on a person who had been in and out of STF torture chambers, and was under constant police surveillance, as the principal link for a major operation?
Question 11: In his statement before the court, Afzal says that he was introduced to “Mohammed” and instructed to take him to Delhi by a man called Tariq, who was working with the STF. Tariq was named in the police charge sheet. Who is Tariq and where is he now?
Question 12: On December 19, 2001, six days after the parliament attack, police commissioner S.M. Shangari identified one of the attackers who was killed as Mohammad Yasin Fateh Mohammed (alias Abu Hamza) of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, who had been arrested in Mumbai in November 2000 and immediately handed over to the Jammu and Kashmir police. He gave detailed descriptions to support his statement. If police commissioner Shangari was right, how did Yasin, a man in the custody of the Jammu and Kashmir police, end up participating in the parliament attack? If he was wrong, where is Yasin now?
Question 13: Why is it that we still do not know who the five “terrorists” killed in the parliament attack are?
Breaking The News
Should Mohammad Afzal Guru Be Hanged?
We Haven’t Even Heard Afzal’s Story
The Death Sentence For Mohammed Afzal Guru And The Future Of Barbarism
How Deep Shall We Dig?