The events that led to Mohd. Arif’s arrest are curious, to say the least. The accepted version of the story is this:
“On 22.12.2000, at about 9 p.m. in the evening, some intruders started indiscriminate firing and gunned down 3 Army Jawans belonging to 7th Rajputana Rifles. This Battalion was placed in Red Fort for its protection considering the importance of Red Fort in the history of India. There was a Quick Reaction Team of this Battalion which returned the firing towards the intruders. However, no intruder was killed and the intruders were successful in escaping by scaling over the rear side boundary wall of the Red Fort.
On 23.12.2000, in early hours extensive search went on of the back side of the Red Fort. The Police found a polythene bag containing some currency notes of different denominations and a piece of paper, a chit on which a mobile No. 9811278510 was mentioned.
Ultimately, the Investigating Agency on the basis of that number being 9811278510 not only unearthed the conspiracy but also reached the main players including Mohd. Arif. The person who had mobile connection card having No. 9811278510 had another mobile cash card of ESSAR company with No. 9811242154. It was also found that number of calls were made from cell No. 9811242154 to telephone No. 6315904 which was a landline number installed at House No. 18-C, Gaffur Nagar, Okhala where a computer centre in the name of ‘Knowledge Plus’ was being run. This said computer centre was being run by one Mohd. Arif. On his apprehension, Mohd. Arif was cursorily searched by Inspector Ved Prakash during which one pistol with six live rounds was found.”
Why do ‘pieces of paper’ feature in ‘undeclared wars by foreign mercenaries‘?
In State v. Mohd. Afzal, 107 (2003) DLT 385 [The Parliament Attack Case], the Doctor who conducted the post mortem on Hamja is described to have found two pieces of paper. One of them had the e-mail address of actress Priety Zinta! The other, of course, had phone numbers.
In Mohd. Arif, (2011) 13 SCC 621 Senior Advocate Kamini Jaiswal did suspect the recovery of the polythene bag. The suspicion was brushed aside. But the SC considered it important to spell out: “we are convinced that the polythene bag and the slip mentioning the cell phone number were actually found at the spot.”
There is something even more significant in the Senior Advocate’s submissions. She contended, “no such incident of outsiders going into the Red Fort and shooting ever happened. The said shooting was a result of the brawl of army men themselves. The whole story was nothing but a myth.” I do not need to state that the contention was rejected. But here too the SC considered it important to spell out: “there are some circumstances which completely belie the theory of internal brawl. It would have to be remembered that a Civilian Sentry Abdullah Thakur was the first to lose his life. There is nothing to suggest that the said Sentry Abdullah Thakur or the Second Casualty Rifleman (Barber) Uma Shankar, as also Naik Ashok Kumar had developed any enmity with anybody in the Battalion.”
Kamini Jaiswal’s submissions were given importance. There is no doubting that. She too thought that the submissions deserved a voice. Is the Indian Army suppressing a truth? It does not matter. The Death Penalty Project, Humanitarians, Midnight CJI Calls notwithstanding, Mohd. Arif is going to die. They delayed it for as long as they could and even more.