New Delhi/ Srinagar: The Special Task Force (STF) of the Jammu and Kashmir Police picked up Mohammad Afzal in the summer of 2000 and tortured him during interrogation because they had got a tip-off one of their informers, Parvez, that Afzal could lead them to Jaish-e-Mohammad's chief in Jammu and Kashmir.
But Afzal says he was tortured by STF for extortion. Both these versions were not examined by the trial court. And then, there is a third version to it. And like the other versions, this also never surfaced during Afzal's trial. Interestingly, Afzal has also not mentioned it in any of his letters.
It was Aijaz, Afzal’s elder brother, who arranged for his release from the STF camp through a senior police officer, the then SSP of Budgam, Ashaq Hussain Bukhari. Aijaz is a friend of the police officer's brother-in-law, Altaf Hussain. DSP Davinder Singh, who admits to torturing Afzal, confirmed this.
"Haan, Altaf ne hi chhudvaya, he was the mediator otherwise Aijaz seedha Bukhari saab ke paas nahin ja sakta tha," Davinder testifies. (Yes, Altaf got Afzal released. Else, he could not have gone to Bukhari.)
"Jab torture ispe zyada hua, toh my SP spoke to me. He asked me ki jo banda pakda hai uska kya hua? Maine kaha ki sir torture toh bahut kiya hai. nahi chala…unhone kaha ki aapko kya lagta hai? Maine kaha mera source toh kehta hai ki yeh uska banda hai - usko dayein-bayein chalata hai…---isko hai Gazi baba ke baare mein. Kehta hai dekhna banda mar na jaye…he should not die," Davinder recalls. (My SP asked me what had happened to Afzal. I told him we tortured him a lot but got no information. I told my SP that I was sure that I was sure that Afzal was a close aide of Gazi Baba. The SP told me to make sure that Afzal didn’t die.)
"Bukhari was my SSP. Bola isko mulaqat bhai se karva do. Ab Ajaz ke saath aaya tha Bukhari sahab ka brother-in-law - Mr Altaf. They came to my camp - Altaf along with Ajaz - to see his brother. Maine kaha ek baat batao - he’s still in connection with Gazi Baba? Iska bhai mujhe bolta hai ki iska nahin hai…agar aap chahte ho Gazi Baba mile, aap mere bhai ko chhudva do…hum aapko Gazi Baba dilva denge," he adds.
“He spoke to me - Ajaz - I will come to your help. I’ve also heard ki Gazi baba hamare ilake mein ghoomta hai…jis din milega, I assure you ki hum aapke hi havale Gazi baba ko karenge. Yehi baat usne mere SP ko kahi tabhi uski sifarish pe aaya," Davinder claims. (Bukhari, my SSP, told me to call his brother. Altaf and Aijaz came to my camp to take him. Aijaz said he would help us get to Ghazi Baba.)
Aijaz, Afzal’s brother, also confirms this. "Haan Altaf mere saath aaya tha hum dono ne usse chudaya tha." (Yes, Altaf came with me and we both went to get Afzal released)
So in 2000, a trade-off was made by the STF that in return for releasing Afzal, Aijaz promised to tip-off STF the day he gets any information on Ghazi Baba’s whereabouts. Four years later, in 2004, Ghazi Baba was killed in an encounter.
"Aab sabse bari baat hai mai kisse confirm karvauu ki Jaab gazi baba mara toh kisne identified the Gazi Baba…nobody we never hamare paas iske liye koi nahi thaa jo kehde ki yeah gazi baba hai…ki vakai mai yeah gazi baba hai ki nahi hai…hamare Police Control room mai his brother was called Mr. Aijaz was called from baramulah in mid-night raat ke 09;00 baje thee…DIG sahab ko statement deni thi…apke govt. of india ko information dene thi ki gazi-baba was killed…it is him man who confermed gazi baba Yes this is Gazi-baba aapsamajhte ho, " Davinder recalls. (The biggest problem was who would identify Baba. Aijaz was called Aijaz was called to the PCR from Baramulah and he identified Gazi Baba. Because Ghazi baba used to meet Afzal in their house.)
CNN-IBN: And how did he know?
Dravinder: because he was coming to them
This revelation has an important bearing to the Afzal case. First, if Afzal was in regular touch with Ghazi Baba, why wasn’t there continuous surveillance on him? Because, a year after Afzal was interrogated and tortured, he became an accused in the Parliament attack case. There is an enormous body of evidence against Afzal to show that he conspired the December 13, 2001 attack, which has been upheld by the Supreme Court.
The second unanswered question is: when Ghazi Baba was already named in the trial court in 2002 as one of the three masterminds of the attack on Parliament and there was intelligence about his presence in the Kashmir Valley, why did the Jammu and Kashmir Police kill him in an encounter in 2004 when he could have been captured alive and interrogated to reveal the entire conspiracy behind the terrorist strike on Parliament?
Does it mean that the security forces are concealing crucial bits of information from the country.
Davinder, the STF officer who interrogated Afzal in the summer of 2000, almost gives the answer away.
"Boss aaisa hua na jaab bhi yaha se sala ullu ka patha le kar chala gaya isko track-down kisi ne nahi kiya jaab hum se chuta toh yeah track-down nahi hua…ki yeah kya kar raha hai kya nahi kar raha hai…(PATCH)… par voh kisi ne kiya nahi jaab tak yeah Delhi mai jakar blast kar ke aa gaya aap dekho na yeah kitno proximity mai ho gaya 2000 mai he was arrested sep mai ya oct mai he was released fir 1 saal ke baad vaha karta hai matlab yeah iska matlab hai yeah kitna close thaa Gazi-baba ke," he says. (The problem was that after he was released, no one kept under watch until this attack in Delhi. Look at the proximity. Just in one year he did this.)
Davinder Singh says even though STF failed to extract any information from Afzal when he was in their custody, continuous surveillance on him could have prevented the Parliament attack. "Maine kaha na yeah agar ussdin banda tut jata toh hame Gazi-Baba ussi din mil jata aur agar Gazi-Baba mil jata toh parliament par attack nahi hota thik hai," Davinder says. (I tell you if had broken Afzal before 2001 we would have got Gazi Babi and the attack would have never happened.)
And he also says that there is no doubt about Afzal's involvement in the Parliament attack. "Ha! How come mai kaise bolta hu ki yeah Gazi Baba hai khass hai…he use to come there house they were working for Gazi baba ismai koi shak nahi hai there is no second openion about it and isnai aapne hi statement mai kaha ki." he asks. (There is no doubt that Afzal was a confidante of Gazi Baba. Baba used to visit his house and Afzal has admitted this in his statement.)
Aijaz agrees his brother was involved in the Parliament attack.
Aijaz: Haan hai, 100% hai.main bataunga..100% involvement hai Afzal ka…
SID: Aap itne conviction ke saath kaise kah saktay hain?
Aijaz: : Are pata hain na…pata hai..pata hai na paise kahan se aaye…who margaye..who ladke sab..nahi to aap ko main abhi bolta chalo uske paas..usay maloom hai..Ghazi Baba idhar mara gaya na?..maara gaya na? 35 lakh tha uspe inaam..