Hyderabad: From a bank
executive to a medical student to the imam of a mosque to an
embroidery worker, everyone arrested on false charges of
involvement in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast has a frightening story
to tell. Four years after they were subjected to torture by police
in illegal custody, they are yet to overcome the trauma and are
not sure if they can ever lead a normal life again.
Though the Andhra Pradesh government has made history by paying
compensation to the victims of police harassment and torture, they
say that money can never heal their wounds and that those guilty
for their plight must be punished.
Unable to find suitable jobs due to the social stigma after being
branded by police as 'terrorists' and agents of Pakistan's
Inter-Services Intelligence, the youths face an uncertain future
and many complain that the harassment is still continuing though
Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy tendered an apology in the
assembly and paid compensation.
Acting on the recommendations of the National Minorities
Commission, the government Friday paid Rs.300,000 each to 15
youths who were acquitted in the case and Rs.20,000 each to 46
others who were let off by police after questioning.
They believe the money and a certificate stating that they are not
involved in any case can never compensate them for the sufferings
they went through.
Kept in illegal detention for several days at the alleged secret
torture cells of police, the innocent youths were deprived of food
and water, stripped naked, severely beaten up and were given
electric shocks on their private parts.
For them justice is incomplete without punishment to the police
officers who committed excesses to force them to own up to the May
17 blast at the historic mosque that claimed nine lives.
"This money can neither erase those shocking memories nor clear
the social stigma I face. There can't be justice until the guilty
policemen are arrested and brought to book," Fiaz Khan told IANS.
A resident of Malakpet in the old city, the 25-year-old was picked
up by police and kept in illegal custody for several days before
being jailed for six months.
"The compensation and certificates are secondary. The police
mindset should change and they should stop harassing us," said
Ibrahim Ali Junaid, a Unani physician.
Even on the day when he was given the cheque by Minorities Welfare
Minister Mohammed Ahmedullah, a police official visited his house.
The student of government-run Nizamia Tibbi College located in
front of Mecca Masjid has gone through hell.
"The policemen pulled my beard and gave electric shocks to my
private parts. I am a Hafiz-e-Quran (one who memorises the holy
Quran)," recalled Junaid, who was a final year student of BUMS, a
unani medical college, when police lifted him and implicated him
in a conspiracy case.
"There should be investigations as to why police officers were
forcing me to admit my involvement. Were they aware who the
culprits are?" wondered Junaid, who was also subjected to narco
and brain mapping tests.
Immediately after the blast, police blamed it on Lashkar-e-Toiba,
Jaish-e-Mohamed and Harkatul Jihad Islami and rounded up about 100
suspects in the city. All those arrested and jailed were acquitted
in 2008 and the subsequent investigations by the CBI in 2010
revealed that the blast was the handiwork of Hindu rightwing group
"The government should not only suspend the police officers who
committed excesses but also prosecute them. If you torture people
and then give compensation this will have no meaning because
police officers will think they can beat anybody and then throw
the money," said Junaid.
"I still don't know why they arrested me and tried to force me to
own up the blast," said Mohammed Abdul Wajid, an embroidery
"I was going to work when they picked me, blindfolded and kept in
illegal custody for 15 to 20 days. They used to beat me on my
soles and give electric shocks to my private parts. I can't even
talk of some torture methods they used. I can never forget the
pain and suffering. It still brings tears to my eyes," said Wajid.
"The money and apology can't heal our wounds. The policemen who
used third degree methods should be subjected to the same for at
least one day," said Mohammed Abdul Raheem, the priest of a
(Mohammed Shafeeq can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)