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Activists, NGOs support Katju's call to reinstate DRDO scientist

Saturday March 09, 2013 12:43:42 PM, Special Correspondent

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New Delhi: Over a dozen NGOs and activists in a joint statement issued Friday extended their support to the call given by Press Council of India (PCI) chief Justice Markandu Katju to reinstate DRDO scientists Aijaz Ahmed Mirza after his release on bail in the Bangalore module terror case.


Welcoming what they called as a  bold initiative by by Justice Katju, they said, "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 a 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", they said.


The statement has been jointly signed by 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

"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", they said.


In reply to an RTI enquiry, the Ministry of Defence has stated clearly that it was 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, according to the information received under RTI. 


"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", the activists said in the joint statement.

"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?", the observed.


"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", they said.


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