A major loophole has emerged in the investigation done by the Jammu and Kashmir police’s Counter Intelligence unit against People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leader Waheed-ur-Rehman Para after a court acquitted the man after 11 years of imprisonment, whom Para was accused of “eager to help” and suggesting to arrange “a good lawyer” to represent the incarcerated man.
The investigation by the Counterintelligence unit of the Jammu and Kashmir Police had claimed that Para had sought legal aid for Bashir Ahmad Baba, who has been described in the charge sheet as “arrested terrorist”.
Baba spent eleven years as an under-trial in Vadodara Central Jail of Gujarat following his arrest by the Gujarat Police’s anti-terror squad in 2010. The court in Gujarat acquitted Baba this month of all the charges and ordered his release.
With Baba found innocent, the Jammu and Kashmir Police’s chargesheet against Para now has a significant loophole as the PDP politician was accused of being “eager to help” Baba.
Para, according to the chargesheet, had in an email in December 2013 suggested that “a good lawyer” should be hired to plead the case of Baba.
A close aide of Para told The Kashmir Walla, that Para was a member of the Kashmir Committee that was headed by former parliamentarian and renowned supreme court lawyer Ram Jethmalani when the email was exchanged. “The Committee would be approached by many people, who needed help. This was a similar such incident, when help for a detainee was sought and he had suggested a good lawyer be arranged for him.”
As per the charge sheet filed by Counterintelligence in Kashmir (CIK), a copy of which lies with The Kashmir Walla, Para had exchanged emails with the then chairman of Tehreek-i-Hurriyat, G.M. Safi on 15 December 2013. “In the second mail exchanged on December, 15 2013, WRP ([email protected]) speaks of arrest of one Bashir Ahmad Baba (a Kashmiri) in Ahmedabad on 13.03.2010 and recommends urgent need of a very good lawyer for him,” it reads.
It further adds: “Further investigation conducted in this regard has revealed that Bashir Ahmad Baba S/o Gh. Nabi Baba R/o Rainawari, Srinagar had been arrested by the Anti-Terrorist squad of Ahmedabad Gujrat on 13.03.2010 in a terror-related case. …The arrested terrorist whom WRP was eager to help is presently lodged in a jail at Gujrat.”
On 25 November, the PDP leader was arrested by National Investigation Agency (NIA) on charges of aiding militancy. In January 2021, a special court had granted bail to him in the NIA case, saying that the “offences, particularly falling under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), are not prima facie made out”. But he wasn’t released; instead, he was arrested by the CIK, taking over custody from the NIA, in Jammu a few hours later.
Para was detained by the CIK on charges of giving financial assistance to militant organizations – a charge similar to that of the NIA. On 11 January 2021, he was formally charged by the CIK, and he is currently lodged in Srinagar Central Jail.