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The Midnight Knock - Asad - The Sunday Indian
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Sunday, June 24, 2018

The Midnight Knock


Batla House quivers as cops arrive illegally to arrest men
ASAD | Issue Dated: March 4, 2012, New Delhi
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When six cops of the Delhi Police, Bangladesh Cell arrived at F 5/18 Nafees Road in Batla House, Jamia Nagar to arrest "illegal immigrants" at about 1 a.m. on February 16, 2012 they had no idea that their operation would backfire. Their arrival sparked a high-voltage drama, as the alleged migrants, it turned out were not from Bangladesh but Bihar.

The situation could have become ugly had a local police official, who arrived on the scene, not opened two rounds of fire in the air to rescue the cops who had been surrounded by an incensed crowd, including local politicos.

This case is not a one off incident in Jamia Nagar, a locality in South Delhi, that has become the target of repeated police raids after the L18 Batla House shootout in September 19, 2008 in which two alleged Indian Mujahideen members and one police officer was killed.

In just one week at least two such cases have unfolded in Jamia Nagar and in both the instances the cops had to beat a hasty retreat on grounds of legal impropriety. On February 13, two officers of the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) in plain clothes were embarrassed when they had come to Shaheen Bagh (also in Jamia Nagar) to hand over “summons under the provision of section 160 Cr PC” to Taquee Ahmad, whose brother Naquee Ahmed is in jail on alleged involvement in the 13/7 Mumbai triple blasts.

The ATS officers had to go back empty handed, when the local police complained that it was not informed of the operation. The case went to the Supreme Court which restrained the ATS from arresting Taquee.Since then, activists and local politicians have been raising the issue of violation of 160 CrPC which as per procedural norm stipulates that all police officials from outside a locality have to inform the local police station about their arrival.

"These police officers are not aware of the 160 CrPc and hence the blunder. They think that they can get away with illegal acts. Jamia Nagar has been turned into a hunting ground by various official and unofficial cells of the Delhi Police," said Manisha Sethi, a Jamia Millia Islamia University teacher living in the locality.

Denying the allegation that the area is being unfairly targeted, a social activist,  Asha Arora said, “These police raids are being made to look ugly. Culprits should be punished and hence residents should cooperate rather than protest."

Differences apart, most residents agree that there is a need for increased legal awareness among people. The Jamia Teachers' Solidarity Association (JTSA) and concerned citizens held a protest demonstration at the Delhi Police HQs at ITO Delhi, at 2 p.m. on February 20, 2012 to resist the "communal profiling and witch-hunt" of the community.

Local MLA Asif Md Khan said, “We are not against arresting of criminal elements by the police. They should follow the law. In all these three cases the cops have turned out to be law breakers. By doing so they lose their credibility."

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017