January 2007 News

Falsely labeled a terrorist, Kashmiri model walks free

24 January 2007
Indo-Asian News Service

New Delhi: Indian Kashmiri model Tariq Dar walked out of the high security Tihar Jail here a free man Wednesday evening after the police dropped the terrorism charge that had forced him to spend 90 harrowing days in custody.'It feels good to be free. I have all along been insisting the charges against me were false and now I have been vindicated,' Dar declared as he came out of prison to an emotional reunion with his family and friends.Dar was arrested in Bangladesh Sept 16 while on a modeling assignment on suspicion of being an agent of India's spy agency Research and Analysis Wing. The Dhaka Police said they had also found some forged travel documents on him.Deported on Oct 25 on the request of the Indian external affairs ministry, Delhi Police arrested Dar on his arrival here and charged him with links to the Lashkar-e-Taiba terror outfit. On Wednesday, the last day of his 90-dday remand, the police sheepishly conceded the charge could not stick - drawing the ire of Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Seema Maini.'I cannot retrain myself from observing that there is a very sorry state of affairs in the Delhi Police,' Maini thundered.'It's astonishing that without an iota of evidence against him, Dar was kept in custody for 90 long days, which could be a lifetime for any common citizen. Police must learn the meaning of individual freedom as enshrined in the constitution,' she maintained.TV news channel CNN-IBN had run a campaign to secure his release.While the police said that Dar's name had figured during the interrogation of Mohammad Issa, a suspect in the 2005 New Delhi blasts who named Dar as his facilitator in India, a CNN-IBN expose revealed the police had picked up the wrong man.On Wednesday, the police admitted in court that this was indeed so and that they had not been able to gather any incriminating evidence against him.Prior to his incarceration here, Dar had spent 40 days in a Dhaka jail.Not surprisingly, the model's father Gazi Ghulam Nabi Dar, who had spearheaded a campaign for his son's release from jail and had also enlisted the support of several Kashmiri leaders, was angry over the episode.'This system of 90-days police custody must come to an end,' he told reporters outside Tihar Jail. 'A period of one month is enough for any investigative agency to ascertain if someone is a criminal. Keeping people in custody for three months merely on a suspicion is too much,' he maintained.


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