March 7, 2013
1. The Hon’ble Defence Minister oflndia,
Shri A.K. Antony,
9, Krishna Menon Marg,
2. The Hon’ble Chief Minister of Karnataka,
Re: Aijaz Ahmed Mirza
It has come to my knowledge that one Aijaz Ahmed Mirza, a D.R.D.O. scientist of Bangalore, was sacked on the ground that he was implicated in the Hyderabad bomb blast case. lt was reported recently in the media that no evidence has been found against him by the N.I.A. which has declined to file a charge sheet against him.
I would request to you look into this matter immediately, and if it is true that there is no evidence against Aijaz Ahmed Mirza, he should be reinstated forthwith on the post he was holding before he was sacked, otherwise a wrong message will be sent throughout the country that Muslims are terrorists and are fair game for being persecuted and victimized by the communal forces.
ln my Press Note issued yesterday I had strongly criticized the false implication of a large number of Muslims in bomb blast and other terrorist attack cases.
Aijaz Ahmed was kept in jail for six months, and according to his TV interview by Rajdeep Sardesai on CNN- IBN channel he was tortured and made to suffer all kinds of indignities in jail. Hence l request you ensure that apart from reinstating him, adequate compensation is awarded to him by the Central/State Government and an open apology is issued by the Central/State Government to Aijaz Ahmed.
All this should be done at the earliest, otherwise the secular foundation of our country as provided for in our Constitution shall be shaken to the core.
We welcome Justice Katju’s bold initiative seeking to reinstate Aijaz Ahmed Mirza’s fellowship contract at DRDO. Arrested in August 2012, on charges that he was involved in a terrorist conspiracy, Mirza has been released after the NIA has excluded him from the chargesheet. But in these six months of his arrest and incarceration, he was not only vilified as a ‘mastermind’ but his Junior Research Fellowship was also terminated by the DRDO. We fail to understand why the DRDO was in such haste to terminate his hard won fellowship even before the charges were framed. Termination of the fellowship must have only compounded Mirza’s distress and mental trauma.
Compared to the swiftness with which the DRDO acted against Mirza, we learn from media reports that Lt. Col. Prasad Srikant Purohit, arrested and charged in connection with terrorist actions in the Malegaon bomb blast and other cases has been receiving full salary and benefits. In a reply to an RTI enquiry, the Ministry of Defence has stated clearly that “It is confirmed that Lt. Col. Purohit, IC 55224 is in receipt of full rates of P&A till date. It is further stated that official communication regarding the judiciary matters is required to be received in this office from AHQRS. For further action relating to P&A. In this present case no such intimation has been received till date.” It is unbelievable that an officer who is in prison for the last four years, on charges of terrorism; against whom a court of inquiry had recommended dismissal from the Army at the earliest by withdrawal of the ‘President’s pleasure’ (Indian Express, May 05, 2010); against whom a fresh Court of Inquiry was ordered in 2011, continues to receive full salary.
Are we not to draw the conclusion that the Ministry of Defence acted in a malicious and discriminatory manner by dismissing Ahmed Mirza for merely being interrogated on suspicion of terrorism while wilfuly neglecting to take any punitive action in the case of Col. Purohit, against whom several charges of terrorism have been already initiated? We second Justice Katju’s demand that the Ministry of Defence reinstate Mirza with retrospective effect and in fact offer compensation to him for the unjust harassment he has undergone both from the NIA as well as the DRDO.
Satya Sivaraman (writer and filmmaker)
Shabnam Hashmi (ANHAD),
Mahtab Alam (PUCL)
Manisha Sethi, Ahmed Sohaib, Sanghamitra Misra (JTSA)
Mansi Sharma (activist, Delhi)
Ajit Sahi, senior journalist, Delhi
Teesta Setalvad (CPJ)
Jyoti Punwani, journalist, Mumbai
Lesley E. Esteves, journalist, Delhi
Jerry Pinto, writer, Mumbai
Dr. Neshat Quaiser, JMI
Dunu Roy (Hazard Centre)
Prof. Harbans Mukhia (Retd.), JNU
Xavier Dias, activist, Ranchi
Walliullah Laskar, Activist, Guwahati
Saba Naqvi, senior journalist, Delhi
Vidya Bhushan Rawat, Activist and writer, Delhi
Anuradha Bhasin, senior journalist, Jammu
Kumar Sundaram, Researcher-Activist, New Delhi