PICKED up, TORTURED, Acquitted, Picked up AGAIN

Arrested, tortured and acquitted after the Mecca Masjid blasts, Raisuddin is stalked by fear after the Hyderabad blasts

Sadiq Naqvi Delhi 

“I was picked up again on February 25, 2013,” says Raisuddin. He was called for interrogation by the Hyderabad Police after the Dilsukh Nagar twin blasts on February 21, 2013. “I was not the only one. There were several such people I know who were acquitted in the Mecca Masjid blasts case, and they are being harassed again this time,” he told Hardnews.

Hindutva terror groups have been decisively found to be involved in the Mecca Masjid blasts, as also several other blasts as in Malegaon, Ajmer, Samjhauta Express and so on. Several innocent Indian Muslims have had to face condemnation, detention, torture and brutalization, even while there was no evidence found against them. Most of them were later released after horrible spells in jail.

“They called me to the police station and kept me there for 24 hours,” he says. “They kept asking me about the bombings. What do I know about it when I was not involved? I have no knowledge.” 

“Police officers would come and leave. They would disappear for lunch and then another one would come and interrogate us,” he recounts. “I asked them, what have I done? And they would just reply that we have no enmity with you, but we have orders from the top,” says Raisuddin. He was let off after 24 hours.

“The new police commissioner is sensible. He later put a notification that people can only be interrogated after a proper notice is served to them,” says a journalist from Hyderabad.

Hindutva terror groups have been found to be involved in the Mecca Masjid blasts, as also several other blasts as in Malegaon, Ajmer, Samjhauta Express and so on. Several innocent Indian Muslims had to face detention, torture and brutalization, even while there was no evidence found against them 

However, a day in police custody is enough to bring back the horrific memories of 2007. “I can’t forget those days. Continuously, for eight days, I was subjected to electric shocks on my private parts and ears. I was beaten up badly,” says Raisuddin. He was among scores of youths who were picked up arbitrarily from Hyderabad after the Mecca Masjid blasts in 2007. They were later acquitted by the court after no evidence was found against them and Swami Aseemanand of Abhinav Bharat confessed to the role of Hindutva terror outfits in the attack.

“I was taken to an interrogation centre with a mask around my face. For the next eight days I had no idea where I was,” he says. His days in judicial custody were no better. “They kept all of us in the high security prison which was a separate enclosure. Once inside, the policemen would always refer to us as members of the ISI and taunt us.”

The agony did not end even after Raisuddin was acquitted six months later. He was among those who were entitled to a compensation of Rs 3 lakh for the harassment they had to face. “I went to the State Waqf Board office to collect my cheque. The officer handed me the cheque but took it back after he noticed my name was in a separate list of people who had cases pending against them,” he says. “I was horrified and surprised. I had no knowledge of any cases pending against me.” 

After sifting through the records, he discovered that his name figures in a case of an attack on the DGP office of Andhra Pradesh in 2004. Section 307 and several other provisions of the Indian Penal Code were slapped on him and others who were protesting against the arrest of MaulanaNaseeruddin, a resident of Hyderabad, whom the Gujarat Police claims is a dreaded terrorist. The Maulana has been acquitted in most cases, including facilitating the stay of an alleged ISI agent, SaleemJunaid, in 1998.  

“A Gujarat police team with NarendraAmin (top Gujarat cop now in jail for his alleged involvement in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case) came to Hyderabad to arrest MaulanaNaseeruddin. We went to the DGP office to protest because he was our neighbour,” says Raisuddin.

A minor altercation ensued between the protesters and the Gujarat police team. “Amin took out his pistol and shot at MujahidSaleem, a young man. He was pronounced dead when we reached the hospital,” he says.  

Raisuddin narrates that his harassment began as soon as he gave his name as an eyewitness to the incident. “We went to the Saifabad police station and lodged a complaint (number 882/2004) and I told the police that I saw it happening in front of my own eyes.” However, he claims that he had no knowledge of the case till the time he went to the Waqf Board to collect his cheque. “My name figures as an absconder in the case. How can I be an absconder when I was in police custody and then in jail for six months?” he asks. “Even when I was being tortured in connection with the Mecca Masjid case, the police would tell me to withdraw my name as a witness in the NarendraAmin shooting incident. They have tried all kinds of pressure tactics.” 

‘NarendraAmin took out his pistol and shot at MujahidSaleem. He was pronounced dead when we reached the hospital.’ Gujarat top cop, Amin is now in jail as an accused in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case. Raisuddin’s harassment began when he said he was an eye witness to the incident

The Hyderabad police have failed to move an inch on the case involving Amin. “They visited Gujarat twice for investigations. Once, they were not even allowed to enter the premises of the Gujarat crime branch,” says a source. Raisuddin moved to a new locality after he was released. “I wanted to start my life anew. I would sell fruits and dates during Ramzan and cattle fodder during Eid-ul-Zuha.”

Now, he is yet again stalked by fear. It is like déjà vu of the horror days in 2007. “Even before I was finally picked up by the police in 2007, they had called me two/three times for interrogation. This time also a similar pattern is being followed. I hope they don’t implicate me again. A friend, Abdur Raheem, who too was acquitted, has bought a mini lorry from the compensation money. Since I had no money he has made me a partner in the new business. I hope I am not subjected to the same torture of 2007,” he says, terrified.

This story is from the print issue of Hardnews: APRIL 2013