New Delhi, Oct. 30: The Union home ministry has asked all states to furnish details on Muslim youths who were framed in terror cases over the past 10 to 12 years but acquitted by courts.
The exercise is aimed at finalising the details of financial compensation to be paid to such youths as part of their rehabilitation.
“All states have been asked to provide details on Muslim youths who were wrongly implicated in terror cases by security agencies and were later acquitted by courts. In many cases, the courts also indicted the police for framing innocent youths and concocting evidence…,” said a senior home ministry official.
The decision to compensate such youths was taken recently following a meeting between minority affairs minister K. Rahman Khan and home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde.
Early this month, Shinde courted controversy after he wrote to all chief ministers asking them to ensure that no innocent Muslim youth is wrongfully detained in the name of terror.
The BJP had then accused him of minority appeasement in the lead-up to next year’s general election.
“These youths are leading a miserable life after the terror tag. The Centre has taken a decision to help them rebuild their lives and ensure proper rehabilitation. Monetary compensation will be paid to them and that’s why we need the list of such youths…,” the official added.
The Centre has planned to use a part of the money from the Prime Minister’s 15-point welfare scheme for the minorities. “We have self-employment schemes for Muslim youths who are given loans by the Centre. We will use part of the fund to rehabilitate them and help them find source of sustenance,” said a minority ministry official.
Citing the Malegaon blast of September 2006, he said Mumbai police had arrested nine youths in the case but the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which later took over the probe, has now chargesheeted four others.
Wajahat Habibullah, the chairperson of the National Commission for Minorities, said he requested the home minister to take up the matter with the state government for issuance of character certificates to Muslim youths who were acquitted by courts.
“Last year, I complained to the Prime Minister about Muslim youths being framed in terror cases and sought prosecution of the cops…,” he said.
The proposal to financially compensate those acquitted in terror cases was first mooted by Khan, the minister, in June after a meeting with Shinde. Khan had felt that there was a growing perception in the community that its youths were being victimised.
Left parties, led by Prakash Karat, had also expressed similar concern, asking the government to announce a rehabilitation package for such youths and also to punish the guilty police officials. Early this year, Karat, along with other Left leaders and civil rights groups, had met President Pranab Mukherjee and appealed for his intervention.
The minority affairs ministry has also recommended setting up a task force of bureaucrats to review pending terror cases where Muslim suspects have been languishing in jail custody for years.
“Most suspects are picked up and framed by police on terror charges without any sufficient evidence. They are put in jail without trial or charge-sheet for years together. Even though they are acquitted by courts after five or 10 years, by that time, their lives are ruined,” Khan said in a letter to the home minister.
Shinde, in his letter to all chief ministers, has referred to some cases that showed how members of Muslim community were wrongly picked up by police in terror cases.
“The central government has received several representations alleging harassment of innocent Muslim youths by law enforcement agencies. Some of the minority youths have started feeling that they are deliberately targeted and deprived of their rights,” Shinde said in the letter to the states.
He asked them to show zero-tolerance on terrorism but not to harass innocent youths.