December 13


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‘Whoever is against it, the machine teaches, is an enemy of the nation. Whoever denounces injustice commits treason against the country.

I am the country, says the machine. This concentration camp is the country: this garbage heap, this immense wasteland empty of men.

Whoever thinks that the country is a house which belongs to everyone shall be the child of no one.’

Eduardo Galeano,

Days and Nights of Love and War.


DECEMBER used to be associated with Christmas – a season for joy and festivity. This year it has only brought a growing sense of sadness, fear and foreboding. The first week of December brings back memories of burnt hair lying in the smouldering homes of Sikhs, and the smell of gas choking thousands to death, and the fear of all consuming hate as a mosque is destroyed. The second week of December has now got inextricably linked to the ongoing war against terrorism in which the first serious casualties have been civil liberties and human rights. December has become the cruellest month breeding memories of injustice, pain and the dying of a nation’s history of resistance to oppression.

On 13 December, 2001 the Indian Parliament was attacked. It is now more than a year and we still do not know the identity of the men who attacked it. The media had reported that six men attacked the Parliament but only five bodies were found. What happened to the sixth? Who were those five men whose bullet-ridden bodies we saw on our TV screens? We have been told their names are: Mohammad, Haider, Hamza, Raja and Rana. The Home Minister, Lal Krishna Advani had declared that the five men looked like Pakistanis. Does Advani look like a Pakistani? Musharraf like an Indian? We need Toba Tek Singh to decide.

Intelligence agencies claimed that the attack was masterminded by the Commander of Jaish-e-Mohammad, Ghazi Baba, the man behind the hijacking of the Indian Airlines plane to Kandahar in December 1999. They claimed also that the five dead terrorists were involved in the actual hijacking but passengers on that unfortunate flight said that the five did not resemble the hijackers. Passengers phoned The Indian Express and the daily carried their statement on the front page.



We do know the names of those security personnel who died fighting the terrorist attack. Members of Parliament were shown paying homage to those who fell saving their lives. But the gesture seemed to lack real emotion when we saw pictures of Prem Yadav, the widow of Jagdish Prasad Yadav who died on December 13. He was posthumously given an Ashok Chakra and Prem was promised money to build a statue in his memory. Sitting on the mud floor of her house in Rajasthan she weeps silently as she tells her little son to recite a patriotic song. He is too young to understand the significance of martyrdom.

Outside their house, Prem has managed to construct a pedestal but she is still waiting for the promised money.

Likewise the family of Kamlesh Kumari, the CRPF jawan who died on December 13, is waiting for the government to fulfil the promises it had made. The family is too poor to build a memorial in Kamlesh’s honour.

In another part of the country another family also awaits justice. That is the family of Abdur Rehman Geelani, one of the accused in the Parliament attack case. From the first day of his arrest Geelani has maintained that he has been falsely implicated. In fact, he claims to have been framed. His family and his friends believe in him. Anyone who knows Abdur Rehman cannot believe that this shy, soft-spoken Kashmiri could have had anything remotely to do with terrorism because he so passionately believes in secular values.

Abdur Rehman Geelani came to Delhi in the mid-nineties and stayed at the postgraduate Mansarovar Hostel of Delhi University. Later he got a job as a lecturer at the Zakir Hussain College where he teaches Arabic and is also registered for his PhD.

Abdur Rehman’s friends know him as a deeply compassionate man with a deep love of the fine arts. He is passionately in love with the great secular poets such as Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Moinuddin Maqudum and Majaz. He could spend hours discussing the finer points of Urdu poetry and interpreting the earthy humanity of their message.

Abdur Rehman is a very sensitive soul who feels the pain of others, whether the sufferings of the Kashmiri people or the quake victims of Latur. His compassion was never bound by sectarian concerns. He abhorres religious and sectarian fanaticism. Many of the teachers and students of Delhi University got to know him because he unfailingly joined secular rallies and meetings to express his solidarity with causes and struggles for equality and justice.

Now Abdur Rehman stands accused for perpetuating terrorism … knowing him, as we do, it is impossible to believe the charges.



On 14 December 2001 Abdur Rehman set out from his home in Mukherjee Nagar to go for Friday prayers. It was the holy month of Ramzan and he assured his wife, Arifa that he would be back in time for iftar. He did not return.

Instead of her husband returning home, five or six policemen burst into their home, turned it upside down and dragged Arifa and the two small children into a standing car. It was the beginning of a nightmare from which they have still to wake up.

Arifa and the two children saw Abdur Rehman that night. He could not stand up on his own and his wrists and feet had tell-tale marks on them. He had been tortured. The police had tried to break him into confessing a crime he never committed. And now they had brought his wife and children before him to weaken his will, threatening to kill all of them if he did not confess.

Arifa saw the police make Abdur Rehman sign blank sheets of paper, but he refused to confess to something he neither did nor approve of. Arifa and her children were allowed to go home. But the children will forever carry the memory of that scene. Their childhood abruptly ended that night and they entered a world where fear, suspicion and prejudice reign.



The policemen of the Special Branch will in all probability go scot free even though section 330 of the Indian Penal Code makes it a crime for a policeman to ‘voluntarily cause hurt to extort confession’ and makes it punishable with imprisonment up to seven years.

It would not have done Geelani any good to tell the policemen that they had violated the provisions of the UN Convention Against Torture, and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. They would have laughed in his face.

It was just as well given the ‘unsavoury’ record of the man in charge of the Special Branch, ACP Rajbir Singh. A report in the Asian Age of 9 November 2002 said that the policeman had been involved in six ‘encounter’ deaths in 2000 and each one had raised more questions than it had answered.

Police records state that Geelani was arrested from his home on 15 December 2001. They cannot explain how his mobile phone had suddenly gone silent from the afternoon of 14 December.

Since then Abdur Rehman has been lodged in Tihar Jail.



On 19 December the police imposed POTA on Abdur Rehman Geelani. It seemed to have been imposed as an afterthought so that he would be unable to move for bail. Those arrested under POTA are denied this basic right, undermining the right to the presumption of innocence till proven guilty.

Eminent citizens, human rights activists and Delhi University teachers wrote letters to the editor protesting against the imposition of POTA on Geelani because it is even more difficult for an innocent man to defend himself under the anti-terrorist law than under the ordinary criminal procedure.

The strangest part of the case was that the police did not first charge the four people arrested and accused of conspiring to attack the prime institution of democracy under POTA, in what is a textbook case of terrorism. This was indeed an inexplicable fact, a key element of the many questions that have arisen with regard to the investigation of this case.

Perhaps the police had decided to rely more on whipping up communal hatred and prejudice than on their own investigative skills. They planted false and defamatory stories against Geelani from the day of his official arrest. Respectable dailies carried these stories making wild, totally unsubstantiated allegations against a man who was in no position to defend himself. All journalistic ethics were thrown to the wind.

All these stories were ostensibly based on a confession Geelani had made to the police. But the court records of December 21 clearly show that Abdur Rehman had refused to make a false confession. The court records sound more like an accusation than an appreciation of a man’s courage in refusing to give into immense pressure.

The first lawyer to reach Abdur Rehman Geelani in Tihar Jail was N.D. Pancholi. For Geelani the visit brought some succour and comfort and Pancholi came back convinced that his client was innocent.

Geelani had been denied access to books and other basic amenities and also the elementary safeguards under POTA. Though Pancholi brought these facts to the notice of the court, the court paid no heed.



The chargesheet was filed in May 2002 well after the mandatory 90 days under ordinary criminal law but within the 180 days allowed under POTA.

The chargesheet stated that Geelani was the only one of the accused who ‘had a mobile phone which was found to be a regular mobile card of Airtel, which stood in the name of Syed Abdul Rehman Geelani.’ The chargesheet went on to state that the ‘subscriber was also found to have made the payments to the mobile company through his SBI card, which also had the same address as revealed from the report received from the SBI.’

The chargesheet stated that Geelani had received a call on his mobile phone on December 14 from Kashmir and ‘while talking in Kashmiri language, supported the attack on Parliament. The transcription was translated in Hindi.’

The other charge against Geelani was that he had been in touch with the other two persons who had been arrested, Mohammad Afzal and Shaukat Guru.

Four persons were arrested: Mohammad Afzal, Shaukat Guru and his wife Navjot, and Abdul Rehman Geelani (in the police and court records Abdur had become Abdul). But eight others were also accused: the five militants who had been killed outside the Parliament and three Pakistanis who had masterminded the attack. Even after the trial was over the links between all these people and their identities remain a mystery.



As far as Geelani is concerned there was not even an allegation that he had any contact with the five dead militants or with the Pakistani masterminds.

On the basis of the evidence of a phone call Geelani was charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including murder, waging war against the Government of India and causing grievous hurt to a public servant on duty; also under the Indian Explosives Act and under POTA.

No arms, ammunition or incriminating pamphlets were ever recovered from Geelani. The prosecution did not produce a single witness who even alleged that Geelani belonged to any illegal organization. But the charge of conspiracy meant that he would face a joint trial and the entire evidence would be treated as evidence against everyone.

The charges were framed and the date was fixed for the trial. It was to be on a day to day basis. How could Geelani be expected to prepare his defence without any time and from behind bars?

It was on 13 June 2002 that we met Abdur Rehman in Tihar Jail. We, along with Arifa and Geelani’s younger brother, registered ourselves at eight thirty in the morning. We would have to wait till noon before we could meet him for barely 15 minutes.

By the time our turn came the crowd had thinned and a policeman barked at Arifa: ‘Kis se milna hai?’ And she replied: ‘High risk.’ She found us looking at her and she apologetically explained: ‘Aadat par gayi hai’ (I have got into the habit).

Arifa had got used to many things. Thrown out of their rented house, she could not find anyone who would rent to the family of someone accused of attacking the Parliament. Twice a week she travelled more than four hours by auto and bus, from her residence and back to meet her husband for 15 minutes, after a wait for several hours. She could hand over a shirt or some money. It was not possible to converse across the chasm that separates the prisoner and his visitors.



Arifa could not secure admission for her children and ultimately sent her daughter back to Kashmir. Her father had to leave her ailing mother to support his daughter and visit his son- in-law in jail.

We met Geelani. He was furious with us. The trial was to begin and we had not yet discussed how he would conduct his defence. We all agreed that he needed to engage his own lawyers and separate his case from the others. He was not a co-conspirator, or an approver seeking a lighter sentence. He was an innocent man being framed and sought to be destroyed.

It was his anger that was so moving. It reflected his trust in our shared values and in friendships which grow stronger and deeper in times of distress.

We contacted many lawyers. They refused. They did not want to be associated with the Parliament attack case. But what about defending the right to a fair trial? A right enshrined in our Constitution after years of struggle against colonial rule. A right fought for in the dark days of the Emergency. Can we ever hope to win the war against terrorism by supporting a concept of national security in which human rights have no place?

Finally, we decided to engage a professional criminal lawyer and somehow raise the money for the fees. Sima Gulati agreed to do the case and put aside her other engagements. She put her heart and soul into the case as she realized that her client was innocent and that the police was trying to frame him. Vrinda Grover assisted Sima Gulati and soon they found that the case had taken over their lives.

We started raising money from the teaching community. Not an easy task but this way of mobilizing resources helped to build a small movement around the issue of right to fair trial. It was a movement based on solidarity, not charity.

On 8 July 2002 the trial of Abdur Rehman Geelani and three others began in the Special Sessions Court of S.N. Dhingra at Patiala House, New Delhi. It was to be the first major trial under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.



Amnesty International issued an ‘Open Letter to the Law Minister’ on the occasion of the trial. The letter expressed Amnesty’s concerns, which included the virtual impossibility of ensuring a fair trial under POTA. The letter stated: ‘Amnesty International believes that POTA in several of its provisions violates international standards for fair trial and is particularly concerned that even the minimal safeguards contained in POTA have not been implemented in the case of Abdul Rehman Geelani.’

Amnesty went on to state that ‘there is little apparent evidence to link Abdul Rehman Geelani to the offence; the chargesheet merely states that his phone number was found on the mobile phone of the main accused and that in a telephone conversation recorded on 14 December 2001, Abdul Rehman Geelani was heard to comment positively on the attack on the Indian Parliament. These are not recognizable criminal offences under Indian law. One of the other accused, Mohammad Afsal, stated at a press conference that Abdul Rehman Geelani had not been involved in the offences. Human rights activists in India have publicly expressed their concern that the available evidence does not warrant the serious criminal charges brought against Geelani and a trial under anti-terrorist legislation.’

Amnesty also pointed out that ‘media coverage of the arrests and concerning the person of Abdul Rehman Geelani during the pre-trial period has been extremely prejudicial to his case and the Government of India has not taken any steps to halt this.’



There was palpable hostility both inside the court and in the media. The judge disallowed questions during cross-examination and permitted the police to bring Geelani in handcuffs to court in violation of Supreme Court judgments.

Prashant Bhushan, a Supreme Court advocate with a deep commitment to human rights, challenged the Sessions Court order in the High Court. It took the High Court more than three months to uphold Geelani’s right not to be handcuffed in court. The High Court order dated 22 November 2002 stated that the Sessions Court order was patently illegal and improper.

Geelani’s lawyers had to fight hard even to obtain a copy of the audiotape of the intercepted conversation. After all, that was, according to the prosecution, the main evidence against Abdur Rehman. The police handed over the tape but without a transcript or translation. And it was not played in the court by the prosecution despite repeated requests from Geelani’s lawyers.

The first question of law to be raised by Geelani’s lawyers was whether the intercepted conversation could at all be admitted as evidence, since the police had not followed the procedure laid down under Part V of POTA for interceptions. The Supreme Court had in many cases held that the non-granting of proper sanction was fatal to the prosecution of the accused. The highest court of the land has held that the grant of sanction was not ‘an idle formality or acrimonious exercise but a solemn and sacrosanct act,’ which provided basic protection to the accused. In this case the prosecution had not even bothered to cite as witnesses those officials who were supposed to have given sanction to intercept Geelani’s phone.

The Sessions Court held that although the police had not followed the procedures laid down under POTA, the evidence was admissible because of the serious nature of the crime. Apparently forgotten was a basic principle of natural justice: the more heinous the crime, the higher the proof that is required.



The prosecution produced a witness, Rashid, who said that he had translated the intercepted conversation for the Special Branch after hearing the tape two to four times. Rashid, who had barely passed class six and did not know Hindi well, told the court that the conversation did not include any English words.

According to Rashid, Geelani told his younger brother, while referring to the attack on Parliament, that the attack was necessary. And Geelani then laughed. Rashid stated that Geelani said ‘Yeh zaroori hota hai.’

The prosecution also produced witnesses to prove that Geelani knew the other two co-accused, Mohammad Afzal and Shaukat Guru, a fact that Geelani never denied. He explained to the court while giving his statement under section 313 of the CrPC that since all of them hailed from Baramulla district and lived in Mukherjee Nagar they knew each other. A casual acquaintance could not imply a shared politics.

Geelani admitted having a conversation with his brother on 14 December, before he was picked up by the Special Branch. However, the conversation did not even refer to the attack. His brother had called to ask for a copy of the syllabus and prospectus to be sent to Kashmir. The conversation took place while he was in a bus and Abdur Rehman repeatedly told his brother not to waste money by phoning during the day when the rates are high.

Geelani requested the judge to hear the tape for himself so that he could hear the words ‘prospectus and syllabus’. The judge refused his request.

Under the law laid down, the courts have held in many cases that the statement of the accused must be treated like any other piece of evidence, and matters in favour of the accused must be viewed with as much deference and given as much weight as matters which tell against him. This is a principle based on the premise that an accused is presumed innocent till proven guilty.



The media continued to be largely hostile or indifferent. And public opinion is largely shaped by the media. If Geelani was to even hope to get a fair hearing we had to change public perception by raising the demand for a fair trial and linking it to the question of protection of human rights even in the middle of the war against terrorism.

Thus was born the idea of setting up the All India Defence Committee for Syed Abdur Rehman Geelani, with Professor Rajni Kothari as the Chairman. On 29 August the committee held a press conference to announce itself. The conference opened with Surendra Mohan reading out a moving letter written in Urdu by Geelani from jail for the occasion. Abdur Rehman expressed his gratitude to the committee members and said he realised that our decision to stand for justice was like walking barefoot on red-hot embers. He said that our efforts were not only to save an individual but would go towards restoring democracy and justice.

The committee members are: Rajni Kothari, Surendra Mohan, Aruna Roy, Babu Mathew, Prabhash Joshi, Syeda Hammed, Arundhati Roy, Sandeep Pandey, Sanjay Kak, Y.P. Chhibber, Nandita Haksar and Kumar Sanjay Singh.



On that day the committee focused attention of the press on the brutal attack on Geelani a few days earlier by a co-prisoner who had tried to slash him with a blade. Geelani had filed a complaint in the Sessions Court and the prison authorities had denied his charges. But in court he informed us that the prison authorities had told him that they could not provide for his safety. He had been saved by his fellow prisoners but what would happen if he were not so lucky the next time? The Defence Committee filed a complaint before the National Human Rights Commission. That seemed to have had a salutary effect.

The most difficult question facing us was why we had formed a committee asking for a fair trial only for Geelani. Did we not want a fair trial for the other three? We were clear that we did not in any way harm the interests of the other three accused, one of whom was a woman with a baby born in the jail.

The reason why we thought that Geelani’s case merited separation was because he was the one singled out by the police and media. He was the prime target of the hostility, possibly because Abdur Rehman represents that section of opinion in Kashmir which makes it difficult for the government to stereotype him as a fundamentalist or a jehadi. He hails from an economically poor family but one which is deeply respected for its role in spreading education. It seemed that Abdur Rehman’s crime is that he is an educated, secular Muslim.

Arundhati Roy put it succinctly in her solidarity message: ‘I fully support the enterprise of ensuring that Syed Abdur Rehman Geelani gets a free and fair trial. If he doesn’t, it would undermine the meaning of democracy.’

Meanwhile the teachers of Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru University had, in an unique gesture of solidarity with their imprisoned colleague, written an open letter to the Chief Justice enumerating the safeguards denied to Geelani and the other co-accused during both the pre-trial and trial stage. They reminded the Chief Justice that once before four senior law professors had written to the then Chief Justice regarding the injustice done by the Supreme Court to a young tribal girl raped by policemen while she was in their custody. The injustice had been largely due to social prejudices against women, especially tribal women.



The Defence Committee contacted many people in an effort to get someone with impeccable credentials and a reputation for personal integrity to transcribe the cassette and translate the intercepted conversation. Our efforts were rewarded when the veteran trade union leader from Srinagar, Sampat Prakash, agreed to testify in the court. He, unlike many of his fellow Kashmiri Pandits, had decided to stay in the valley and fight for the rights of his people. His immediate response to our request sent through Balraj Puri in Jammu was that he considered it his duty to depose in court.

Sampat Prakash himself had spent eight years in jail and had challenged the provisions of a state preventive detention law under which he had suffered 17 months in solitary confinement. The case was an important precedent often cited by human rights lawyers. The second witness who agreed to transcribe and translate the intercepted telephone conversation for the court was the Delhi-based filmmaker, Sanjay Kak who has won acclaim both in India and abroad for his documentary films.



The absolute sincerity and integrity of the two Kashmiris must have got through and the judge finally allowed the tape to be played in the court on 9 November 2002. It was exactly four months after the start of the trial that the public heard the evidence against Abdur Rehman. It was clear that the police had falsified evidence and that their witness had lied to the court.

Sampat Prakash and Sanjay Kak told the court that there were English words such as syllabus and prospectus in the conversation and the judge could hear them for himself. The words, ‘Yeh zaroori hota hai’ were not uttered anywhere in the conversation and there was nothing to link Geelani with the attack on the Parliament in the two and half minute conversation between the brothers. Both witnesses told the court that they had heard the tape 10 to 12 times very carefully before transcribing it.

Geelani’s younger brother also deposed in court that he had phoned to press Abdur Rehman to send him the syllabus and prospectus and his older brother had told him several times to put down the phone because it was expensive to call in the morning. The 18 year old stood in the witness box looking at his older brother in handcuffs feeling somewhat guilty of having landed him in jail by his phone call. No one blamed him. Not even the police who had admitted during cross-examination that they had found nothing against him.



By 31 October the High Court gave its long awaited order on the question of admissibility of the intercepted telephone conversation under POTA. In its 74-page order the High Court held: ‘It is true that the allegations against the petitioners are of a very grave and serious nature. But while considering the aspect of fair trial, the nature of evidence obtained and the nature of safeguards violated are both relevant factors.’ The court held that the safeguards under POTA had been ignored and thus the intercepted conversation was inadmissible under the law.

It was this judgment which exposed the fact that the police had done really shoddy investigation in a case that should have merited their best possible efforts. But the question raised again and again was whether the judgment was only about procedure or about substantive law. The point missed was that when law enforcement agencies begin to violate the letter and spirit of the law and justify these violations in the name of national security they acquire impunity. Such an impunity is the beginning of the end of rule of law and of basic human rights.

Senior media persons have asked whether violation of procedures is merely nit-picking and lawyer talk. Perhaps they did not pay sufficient attention to the testimony of one very courageous journalist who came to court as a defence witness for Geelani.

Shams Tahir Khan, principal correspondent of Aaj Tak, was one of the many journalists who had been called by ACP Rajbir Singh to the Special Branch office on 21 December 2001 to record the statement of Mohamad Afzal. Other TV channels such as NDTV and Zee were also present. Afzal confessed to being a part of the conspiracy to attack the Parliament but he also clearly stated that Geelani had nothing to do with it.

Rajbir Singh shouted at Afzal and told him not to say anything about Geelani; he also told the media not to report this part of the statement. That is why the media did not broadcast that part of Afzal’s statement. However, a hundred days after the attack on Parliament it was only Aaj Tak which broadcast that part of the statement. That is how we learnt about it and requested Aaj Tak to allow Shams Tahir Khan to show the tape to the court.

Afzal told the court that he had indeed stated that Geelani was not involved in the conspiracy. Afzal has a sense of honour which would not allow him to falsely incriminate a man. But what happened to those institutions on which we depend to uphold our constitutionally guaranteed freedoms and fundamental rights?



The next day Manoj Pande of the Times of India also testified in court as Geelani’s defence witness. He confirmed what Shams Tahir Khan had stated, that Afzal had indeed said that Geelani was not involved.

Zee TV made a film in 16 days on the occasion of the first anniversary of the attack on Parliament. It claimed it was not just a film but the reality. Apart from the fact that it was badly made, the film does not quote any source other than the police, as if the police version is the god given truth. In violation of all journalistic ethics and human rights standards, the film was screened. A triumph of the war against terrorism!

The High Court did grant a stay on its showing, but the Supreme Court protected Zee TV’s right to freedom of expression and vacated the stay. The judge observed that the Sessions Court judge would not be influenced by the film. They missed the point.

The question is not whether the Sessions Court judge would be influenced by a film based on the police version, three days before he was to read out his judgment on the Parliament attack case. The point is that such films influence the public at large. They do not enlighten people on the causes of terrorism; rather they only serve to strengthen the forces of hatred, prejudice and fear.



The people in Kashmir have been very closely following the trial. They have been regularly logging on to the website launched by the All India Defence Committee. Many organizations have been surprised that we have politely refused help, monetary or otherwise, from all political parties. They are astonished that we have been able to raise money by going to the people in Delhi, mostly the teaching community and these donations have come as expression of solidarity with an innocent man being framed.

In Kashmir the trial is viewed as a political trial, a fact pointed out by K.G. Kannabiran, senior counsel, who represented Shaukat Guru. Kannabiran, a lawyer with more than four decades of experience in fighting life and death battles in courts, told the Sessions Judge that the police were under pressure to enact ‘a grand trial of a grand conspiracy… but the courts should not countenance the reduction of criminal prosecution into a third-grade circus to cater to an orchestrated clamour for instant retribution.’

Kannabiran warned the court that ‘in the charge of conspiracy the court has to guard itself against the danger of unfairness to the accused. Introduction of evidence against some may result in conviction of all, which is to be avoided.’



On 16 December 2002, the POTA court delivered its judgement holding all four accused guilty, the first three accused of being part of a conspiracy to wage war against the state and thus liable to the maximum sentence and the fourth, Afsan Guru, for being in the knowledge of the conspiracy but not informing the authorities about it. Two days later, on 18 December, it awarded death penalty to the first three accused, including Geelani.

Surprisingly, or not so, the court refused to pay heed to the alternative translation of the transcript of the telephone conversation between Abdur Rehman Geelani and his brother. This despite the fact that it is the single point on which the judge has decided that Geelani is guilty and deserves capital punishment. Most amazingly, the learned judge chose to believe the prosecution witness because ‘language is not the monopoly of the educated and elite class... Tulsidas, Kabir and several other contemporary personalities had little formal education but had command over language.’ Our case rests. [Transcript at end of article]

There is a distinct possibility of the case going up to the Supreme Court. The road to legal justice is a long, long one. The road to real justice is even longer. Abdur Rehman’s two children have been watching this trial. They know that their father is innocent and are waiting for him to come home. But will they ever have the same faith in Indian justice or Indian democracy? What will they think of the school teacher who preaches that human rights are enshrined in our Constitution to protect Indian citizens from the abuse of state power?

Translation of the Phone Conversation in Kashmiri


Kashmiri Conversation

English Translation

Hindustani Language








Hello, Assalammalaikum Jenab

Hello, Assalammalaikum Sir

Hello, Assalammalaikum Jenab



Valaikum Salam

Valaikum Salaam

Valikum Salaam




Are you well?

Kya aap theek hain?



Theek paaeth, khosh, khosh!

Very well, quite happy!

Theek tarah se hoon! Khoush hoon








Jaan paaeth

Quite fine

Bahut ache



Na apuz kyazi vanay

No, why should I tell lies

Nahin, mein jooth kuon bolum



Che kati chukh? Gare pathae?

Where are you? Calling from home?

Tum kahan ho? Ghar se bole rahe ho?



Na, Na. Ba chhus na gare paethac

No, No. I am not speaking from home

Nahin, Nahin. Mein ghar se nahin bole raha hoon













Ba chhus gaadi manz

I am in the bus

Mein gaadi mein hoon



Bassi manz?

In the bus?

Kya bus mein?



Tim chhe neran waale. Ba chhus garah pakaan. Tse van che kyah gachhi?

They are about to leave. I am heading Towards home. What do you want?

Who nikalne waale hein. Mein ghar ja raha hoon. Tumhein kya chahiye?



Syllabus te prospectus

Syllabus and prospectus

Syllabus aur prospectus



Myani khayala che trav vunkes phone Vunkes nare na kaaem Timan chhu yyuni narun Khan Saa’bas

I deem it advisable for you to drop the phone at this moment. Your job can’t be done this time. They have to leave just now. Khan Sahib

Tumhara isi waqt mere khyal mein, phone rakhna theek rahega. Tumhara kaam is waqt nahin ho sakta. Unko abhi jaana hai. Khan Sahib





Kin ko?








Khan Saa’baas hassa. Ba karay cheer phone. Az ya pagah. Ya doyi teryi dohai. Ya Eed peth. Yunkes Khasan ponsa ziyada

It is Khan Sahib. I will ring you up late at night. Today or tomorrow or on the Eed festival. It will cost higher at this time

Khan Sahib hain. Mein der se phone karunga. Aaj ya kal. Ya do ya teen din ke baad. Ya Eed per. Is samay paisa zyada lagega



Accha, Accha, Janeb, Janeb

Yes, Yes, Sir, Sir

Haan, Haan, Janab, Janab



Bae Soruy Theekh?

Rest all well?

Bilkul theek?








Ye kyah korva?

What has happened?

Yeh kya hua?



Kya? Dilli-Ha?

What, in Delhi?

Kya Dilli mein?



Dilli, Kya korva?

What has happened in Delhi?

Dilli mein kya hua?



Ha! Ha! Ha! (Asaan)

Ha! Ha! Ha! (laughing)

Ha! Ha! Ha! (hansna)



Vuni bihizyava sokha saan

Relax now

Ab sakun se rahna



Ha! Ha! Ha! (Asaan) Accha che katev chukch? Srinagar ha

Ha! Ha! Ha! (laughing) O.K. where are you? In Srinagar?

Ha! Ha! Ha! (hansna) Accha tum kahan ho. Tum Srinagar mein ho?








Che chukha Srinagar?

Are you in Srinagar?

Tum Srinagar mein ho?



Na, mein kor tate chutee

No, I am no longer there

Ab mein wahan nehin hoon



Che chukh vanay varmullay?

Are you now at Baramulla?

Kya tum abhi Baramulla mein ho?













Tate kar mein chutee

I have left the place

Mein ne vahan chod diya hai








Accha. Khuda hafiz

O.K. God bless you

Accha. Khuda hafiz



Khuda hafiz

God bless you

Khuda hafiz



Accha tharva?

O.K. should I keep the phone?

Kya mein phone rakhun?



Accha tharva

O.K. keep the phone

Haan phone rakh do