Special probity for Bollywood? While Sanjay Dutt is free, 73-year-old Zaibunnisa is still in jail

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By Puja Changoiwala

Now seventy three-year-old Zaibunnisa Anwar Kazi was arrested for a same corruption as actor Sanjay Dutt – hoarding ammunition to be used for a 1993 Mumbai blasts. She was given a same quantum of punishment as Dutt – 5 years. And yet, even as a actor managed an exculpation underneath a Terrorism and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA), Zaibunnisa was branded as a terrorist. Even as Dutt could simply service a healthy series of recover and permit leaves during his sentence, Zaibunnisa’s family had to hit doors for during slightest 7 months any time they got her a relief. And even as Dutt finished his distinguished travel of leisure progressing this week, Zaibunnisa, even today, languishes in a state prison. Their crime was a same, and yet, their probity different, simply given Zaibunnisa is not Sanjay Dutt; worse, she is one of us.

“She is not a terrorist,” says Kamini Jaiswal, an venerable Supreme Court lawyer, “Zaibunnisa is a plant of circumstances. Even Sanjay Dutt was not a terrorist. He was usually a foolish macho man, and afterwards he owned it up. But we had a arch apportion articulate in his favour. On a other hand, this lady was usually a common person. But usually given she doesn’t have a imagination and chosen backing, she does not consequence to be treated this way, and that too on basement of such spare evidence. Zaibunnisa has some-more than suffered.”

It was 17 April, 1993. Zaibunnisa, afterwards a 50-year-old housewife, was during her Bandra home with her daughters. A group of policemen came knocking on her door. They asked her if she knew Abu Salem, a mafiosi who was indicted of provision weapons for a blasts. Zaibunnisa responded observant that she didn’t know him well, usually vaguely. “He is a genuine estate agent. He has come to my chateau before,” she told them. The policemen positive her that they would take her to a military station, and would let her go after she available her matter with them. The lady agreed, though within dual days, she was requisitioned and arrested underneath TADA.

According to a police, Zaibunnisa was arcane to a swindling behind a militant act that claimed 257 lives. It was purported that a shipment of AK-56 rifles, palm grenades and other arms was delivered to Zaibunnisa’s home, and that when she supposed a bag, she was wakeful that it contained ammunition to be used for a blasts. The cops had brought on record a confessional matter of co-accused Manzoor Ahmed, who claimed to have delivered a weapons to Zaibunnisa.

Manzoor’s admission read, “We went to a unit and handed over a bag to a lady and told that a bag contains arms for causing riots and they were sent by Anis bhai (main confederate Dawood Ibrahim’s brother) and that they would take a bag after some days. After observant so, he gave a bag to a primary lady. The lady non-stop a bag and after observant a contents, sealed a same and took it inside a room.”


(Co-accused Manzoor Ahmed’s retracted admission where he claimed to have forsaken a shipment of AK-56 rifles, palm grenades and other arms during Zaibunnisa’s Bandra home.)

The military conspicuous that a consignment, that was forsaken during Zaibunnisa’s home, was picked adult from a chateau of Sanjay Dutt, who had systematic them for “self-protection”. The actor was requisitioned and arrested for a same corruption as Zaibunnisa. But he managed to secure bail while Zaibunnisa remained in authorised custody. It was 4 months before she could lapse home. While extenuation her bail on 17 August, 1993, Justice JN Patel remarkable that given a Honourable High Court had postulated bail to Dutt, he had “no hesitation” to sequence Zaibunnisa’s recover on bail. He settled that with a justification benefaction then, it could not be conspicuous that Zaibunnisa had abetted a militant act or was a member in a swindling that led to a explosve blasts. “At a many a applicant Zaibunnisa can be prosecuted for offences underneath a (less stringent) Arms Act or IPC,” a sequence read.

(The sequence upheld by Justice JN Patel while extenuation bail to Zaibunnisa in August, 1993, 4 months after her arrest.)

The sequence brought service to a Kazi family. Justice Patel had deduced that Zaibunnisa, even if an accused, was not a terrorist. Further, Manzoor’s admission finished no discuss of her name. He even retracted a matter later, alleging woe preceding his confession. The Kazi family was certain that Zaibunnisa would be acquitted, though she wasn’t. When a hearing in a High Court finished in 2006, Zaibunnisa was convicted underneath TADA and condemned to 5 years of severe imprisonment. When a matter escalated to a peak court, her visualisation was reliable in 2013, dual decades after a blasts.

“When a judgements arrived, we were stumped. Sanjay Dutt, who had confessed to job for a weapons, who confessed to meaningful these group who had delivered a consignment, was clear underneath TADA. But Zaibunnisa, who was attempted for a same offence, was convicted. There was no justification opposite her, solely for Manzoor’s retracted confession. Manzoor was tortured into giving that statement. There is a roznama on record where he speaks about how he was stripped, beaten, his nails extracted, and how he was draining from control to toe. But even if we cruise a confession, Manzoor could not brand Zaibunnisa before a probity as a lady who a bag was handed to. In fact, even he was not convicted underneath territory 6 of a TADA (for extended penalties), though Zaibunnisa was. Further, distinct Dutt, Zaibunnisa did not confess to anything herself. She wouldn’t; she had committed no crime. Even a weapons were not retrieved from her possession, while an AK-56 was recovered from Dutt. And yet, distinct a film star, she was convicted,” conspicuous a source tighten to a Kazi family, who did not wish to be named.

Farhana Shah, Zaibunnisa’s former counsel, conspicuous that a lady was awarded a visualisation given a smallest punishment underneath TADA is 5 years. But Jaiswal says that she can't sense given a lady was convicted for a militant act in a initial place while Dutt was clear for a same offence. Dutt was a male who had called for a arms, while Zaibunnisa was indicted of usually storing them.

“The probity has looked during Dutt’s box with blinkers,” says Jaiswal, “And Zaibunnisa was denied a satisfactory trial. She has not finished anything for that she should be called a terrorist. Also, a bulk of a record in a box was such that a holistic viewpoint could be simply lost. All a explosve blasts were attempted together, chargesheets ran into thousands and thousands of pages, so many indicted were attempted during a same time, and finally, a 4 thousand-page order. With such outrageous proceedings, it all becomes a large mess.”

But Zaibunnisa’s distress did not finish during a judgement. Soon after she surrendered in a TADA probity in May, 2013, she was lodged in a Yerwada jail during Pune. Her daughter, Shagufta filed a tolerance interest observant that Zaibunnisa, afterwards 71 years, was riddled with several health complications. The septuagenarian had cholesterol, blood vigour and thyroid issues and was also treated for a virulent swelling on her kidney. Shagufta forked out that her mom indispensable to have biannual medical tests, and that given of her age, it would be formidable to tarry jail. But her pleas fell on deaf ears even as another indicted in a case, Sameer Hingora was postulated service of 3 and a half years in his visualisation by a Supreme Court overdue to his heart ailment. Sanjay Dutt, meanwhile, had also perceived a postpone of one year in his six-year visualisation conspicuous by a high court.

Shagufta, 45, who had to understanding with her mother’s box as shortly as she got out of college and hasn’t married yet, says, “Imagine a chairman as aged as her critical in your house, say, your grandmother. They’re so nervous during home; now suppose them critical in a jail. Because she has been convicted underneath TADA, my mom can't pronounce to us over a phone while other prisoners are authorised dual calls a week. we was authorised to revisit her for fifteen mins once each month. Last year, they started permitting me dual visits. Every time we go to see her, she asks me, ‘Sarkar ne kuch kari kya?’ (Has a supervision finished anything?) we don’t know how to answer her anymore. So we tell her, ‘Who are you, mamma? Who is going to listen to you?’ But she doesn’t understand. She gets restless. It’s unequivocally difficult, that life, generally for an aged and bum lady like her. The final time she came out on parole, she had mislaid a extreme volume of weight. She was so diseased that dual lady constables had to reason her and palm her over to me.”

Shagufta says that even removing a recover authorised for her mom was not an easy assign even as a tolerance towards Dutt in terms of provisional leaves was constantly questioned in a press. Six months after Shagufta finished a recover focus in 2014, a Pune local commissioner replied observant that a defence had been deserted as there was a probability that Zaibunnisa could abscond. Shagufta afterwards approached a Mantralaya, and after several days of follow ups, her mom was finally postulated leave. The same run steady when Shagufta finished another focus final year. The provisional releases, says Shagufta, were critical given these are a usually times when she can have her mother’s medical tests conducted. Further, even as Dutt was authorised home-cooked food and mattresses, Zaibunnisa still sleeps on a mill building and has to eat jail food, nonetheless her distended legs need salt-less cooking.

“It is not a five-year sentence,” says Shagufta, vocalization to Firstpost during a coffee emporium tighten to her home, “It’s a twenty 3 years of consistent torture, a tab of being a terrorist. In these dual decades, we have mislaid a honour, all a respect. We have sole a properties to feet a authorised bills. My father died watchful to see my mom free. Even if mumma earnings home, who is going to erase those memories? The woe of authorised custody, a woe of 1993 – nobody can clean these out. And given my mother? When she sits, she can't get up. When she stands, she can't lay down. And what can we do about it? Nothing. In a past twenty 3 years, I’ve knocked on each door; I’ve created to each minister, each applicable person, though there has been no response. They need to collect adult her record and see. What has she done? She is a housewife, a mother. we wish that she had served some-more visualisation when she was arrested. At slightest during this age, when she can't even go to a washroom on her own, she would have been free.”

Former Chief Justice Markandey Katju, in Mar 2013, had sent an interest to a Indian president, primary apportion and home apportion requesting atonement for Zaibunnisa. He wrote, “In divide 125 of a Supreme Court visualisation in her box it is clearly settled that she is trusting of a categorical assign of swindling in a 1993 explosve blasts. With due honour to a Hon’ble Supreme Court we have some reservations about a anticipating of Supreme Court on this point. Be that as it may, in my deferential opinion Zaibunnisa Kazi entirely deserves atonement and therefore we am appealing to we to extend her atonement underneath Article 72 of a Constitution.” But a Union supervision did not respond to a appeal.

(The Supreme Court’s settlement on Zaibunnisa conspicuous in March, 2013.)

“It’s absurd how a authorised complement works. Justice JN Patel had postulated bail to Zaibunnisa after deriving that she was not guilty underneath TADA. But another decider sitting in a same probity convicted her underneath a Act. Similarly, former Chief Justice Katju doesn’t find her guilty, though a Bench of Justice P Sathasivam, who endorsed her conviction, did. The justification before all 4 judges was a same, and yet, a outcomes were different. Is it that judgements are given out on basement of a judge’s personal or particular viewpoint rather than a case’s merit? Is this unequivocally how they broach probity in a country? We’ve been looking for these answers for several years now. But even as Zaibunnisa fights each day to tarry those barracks, no one is peaceful to answer,” says a source tighten to a family.

Shagufta says that she had also appealed for discount and early recover for her mother. But distinct Dutt, who was postulated a service of 144 days for good behaviour, Zaibunnisa’s interest has not seen a response. “I usually wish her to come behind alive and healthy. People talk, though they also forget. we wish my mom is lost by a time she is out. If she has to live in peace, she has to be forgotten,” says Shagufta.

Senior disciple Kamini Jaiswal, meanwhile, said, “Sanjay Dutt’s standing had an over-awing outcome on a people. He got a unequivocally sensitive treatment. But it is unequivocally bizarre that a government, that has to provide all a adults equally, has not looked during her condition in jail. If Dutt has behaved good in prison, she couldn’t have had a bad record. What could she have finished that would tell that she has a bad behaviour? If you’re relieving one chairman on basement of good conduct, we don’t see given Zaibunnisa is not authorised for a benefit. And what is remission? It is a extend a supervision gives. This aged lady is not means of entrance out and committing an offence. Let her be means to live her life peacefully with her daughter. It is unequivocally hapless that luminary standing has got people subsidy for Dutt, and Zaibunnisa is usually forgotten.”

But notwithstanding all a prayers, when Zaibunnisa walks out of prison, she will not be greeted with a media frenzy or thousands of fans dancing to a dhol outward her home. She will not arrive as a resurrected superstar. Unlike her former co-accused, this 73-year-old, who has faced misapplication in her arrest, trial, conviction, visualisation and imprisonment, will lapse as a hammered terrorist.