ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Terror, Innocence, and the Wages of Official Prejudice

Public awareness of the scale of continuing state injustice in India is not very high, this article points out. It goes on to show that a telling selectivity in popular outrage and the application of the majesty of the law reveal a troubling majoritarian bias in society and the law. This does not sit well with the Constitution’s promise of equal treatment to all before the law.

I am grateful for research support and advice from Anirban Bhattacharya.

Imagine being wrongfully charged and jailed after torture for 14 years, never knowing if you will ever walk free. This is Mohammed Aamir Khan’s harrowing story, of unspeakable injustice that stole the best years of his youth from him. But his story is, at the same time, one of endurance, love, and hope. In the three years I have known him, I found him a remarkably gentle person, free of bitterness and anger, and convinced about justice, democracy, and secular values.

In a deeply affecting book he has written with Nandita Haksar, Framed as a Terrorist: My 14-year Struggle to Prove My Innocence (Khan 2016), he describes how when he was 20, one late winter evening in February 1998 on a by-lane of Old Delhi close to his small home, he was picked up by policemen in plain clothes, and driven to a torture chamber. He recounts his days and nights of torture—stripped naked, his legs stretched to extremes, boxed, kicked, subject to electric shocks, anti-Muslim abuse, and threats to frame his parents. He finally succumbs, and agrees to sign numerous blank sheets and diaries. As a result, he was charged in 19 cases of terror crimes, and accused of planting bombs in Delhi, Rohtak, Sonipat, and Ghaziabad.

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Updated On : 26th Apr, 2017
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