New Delhi, March 25 (IANS) Muslims organizations have expressed skepticism over the home ministry's proposal to set up special courts for speedy trial of Muslim youth falsely implicated in terror-related cases, terming the move a "lollipop" for the community.
Gulzar Azmi of Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind said the move has been made with an eye to next year's elections.
"It is a lollipop for Muslims ahead of the elections. They are trying to prepare the ground for elections," Azmi told IANS.
He accused the government of not being sincere about providing justice to Muslim youth falsely implicated in such cases. "If the government is sincere and honest they should show that. It has often made such claims, but nothing concrete has come up yet."
Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Friday in a letter to Minority Affairs Minister K. Rahman Khan said the ministry "strongly" backs the decision for establishing such special courts and promised strong action against officers responsible for such cases.
"The ministry strongly supports the proposal of special courts for the expeditious trial of these Muslim youth. I am also of the view that arresting and keeping innocent persons in custody knowingly, is indeed a serious offence and our government is committed to ensuring strong action against the officers responsible in all such cases and you have my assurance that this will happen," Shinde said in his letter.
Azmi said the government should ensure action against officers who implicate innocent Muslims. "If nothing is done about such officers, then these cases will continue to occur."
Echoing similar views, Masihuddin Sanjari of Rihai Manch said the government has made no serious efforts to address the issue.
"There are fast-track courts functioning in several cities across the country, but so far they have not yielded any results. We can hope they act, but honestly there is no hope," Sanjari told IANS.
Expressing disappointment that no police officer has been prosecuted in manufacturing evidence and implication Muslims falsely, Sanjari said people in the country lack awareness about the issue.
"We live in a country where masses are not aware. If the masses were aware they would rise up against such incidents, and force the government to take action; but unfortunately awareness is not there."
Mehtab Alam of People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) said the home ministry proposal was not very clear.
"What the home ministry is talking about is still unclear - on what kind of courts are going to be set up. We have seen in the case of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, that even when there is a provision for special courts none have been set up so far.
"Speedy trials are a must. We have seen innocent youth are acquitted by courts after they spend 14-15 years in jails," Alam told IANS.
"Compensation is also needed but it alone will not do. Apart from compensation, rehabilitation of such people should also be made sure. Compensation is their right," he asserted.
Students Islamic Movement of India's (SIMI) former president Shahid Badr said the central government should also take responsibility for such cases.
"If the government believes that such cases do happen, then they should set an enquiry commission to look into them. Moreover, police is an institution under them, so effectively the government is aware of such cases and are equally responsible," Badr told IANS over telephone.
"These statements are made to take credit but on ground there is nothing to support such claims. If they want then they should take back all the false cases first," he said.
Abdul Rahim Qureshi, spokesperson All India Muslim Personal Law Board, told IANS: "The governments should have a mechanism to decipher between reliable and un-reliable 'concocted' evidence; and such a move will make no difference if Muslims continue to be implicated on unreliable evidence."
"Many Muslims have been kept under detention for years without being charge-sheeted. Government should ensure such cases should be dispensed immediately. Also cases where youth who have been charge-sheeted on the basis of un-reliable evidence should also be disposed off quickly, within 4-5 months," he said.