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Hyd blasts probe: Stop witch-hunting, say rights groups

February 27, 2013 14:15 IST

With the Hyderabad police rounding up several Muslim youth for questioning in connection with last week’s twin blasts in Hyderabad, some civil rights groups are up in arms and say witch-hunting will only prove fatal to the probe. Vicky Nanjappa reports.

The Jamia Teachers Solidarity Association and the Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee Hyderabad say that the investigations into the 2007 Mecca Masjid blasts too commenced in the same manner, but the culprits turned out to be someone else.

Although both the National Investigation Agency and the Hyderabad Police have made it clear that they have not arrested anyone in connection with the case and are questioning several persons to get more clues, the rights groups allege that a witch-hunt is on.

“The same Hyderabad police which, in the aftermath of the Mecca Masjid blasts, had raided Muslim mohallas, rounded up scores of young men, tortured them at private farmhouses, alleged to have recovered RDX, arms and ammunition, jihadi literature, incriminating cell phone records and laptops, as well records of journey to foreign countries for terror-training by these young men -- all proven to be false now -- have been entrusted with the investigation of the Dilsukhnagar blasts,” the groups said in a statement.

“Have we already forgotten that the additional metropolitan sessions judges in throwing out the two related cases of Mecca Masjid blast found the police unable to produce any evidence except for the confessional statements of the accused -- statements which had obviously been extracted under harsh and brutal torture, as attested by the Advocate Ravi Chander report?

“And sure enough, the various special investigation teams formed by the Hyderabad Police have knocked on the same doors. Mohammed Rayeesuddin, Mohammed Azmath, Arshed Khan, Abdul Raheem and Abdul Kareem were detained for questioning, while Dr Ibrahim Ali Junaid was hounded over the phone. Not only were the same people targeted once again, the methods were no improvement over 2007 -- the same surreptitious whisking away without information to relatives, reviving the horrors,” the groups allege.

“Why have the police officers, who indulged in and supervised the frame-ups in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blasts, have not been punished? Indeed, investigations demand that the policemen who deliberately tried to fabricate and derail a genuine probe the last time, be first punished. 

“What is the guarantee that they will not influence the course of investigation of the recent twin blasts as well? Is there any reason for us to believe that they will not avenge the humiliation of their 2007 fiasco by harassing their victims, many of whom have filed a civil suit seeking damages for their illegal detention and torture? 

“The detentions of Rayeesuddin and others have in fact again confirmed our fears of collusion and complicity between the Andhra and Gujarat police over encounter killings and communal witch-hunts. Rayeesuddin is a key witness to the cold-blooded murder of Mujahid Salim Islahi by the Gujarat encounter specialist Narendra Amin -- currently in jail for Sohrabuddin fake encounter, another instance of the ‘cooperation’ between the police of the two states -- at the Lakdi Ka Pul police station in Hyderabad in 2004.

“While the Hyderabad Police has shown no inclination to pursue the case against Amin, not even once seeking his custody, there is reason to believe that the cases against Rayeesuddin are ways to intimidate him into withdrawing his witness in the case. In fact, many of the terror accusations against Muslim youth in Hyderabad relate to this incident in 2004,” the groups said.

“As proof of Indian Mujahideen’s existence, security experts and agencies have cited the emails that the organisation purportedly sent after every blast they executed. Though no emails were forthcoming this time, the Bharatiya Janata Party chief of Andhra Pradesh, G Krishan Reddy, received by post a letter from Lashkar-e-Tayiba, claiming responsibility for the blasts.

“While the investigating agencies see an IM module in every Muslim concentrated town and a sleeper cell in every madrasa, they must explain why those organisations currently being tried for exploding bombs in the same city in 2007 are not even being mentioned as potential suspects?

“While forensic evidence is still being collected and analysed -- much of it destroyed by the media trampling all over the site -- agencies through trusted mouthpieces are chanting about the discovery of trademark IM bombs. What is the basis of this claim? Media reports suggest that Dilsukhnagar bomb was an improvised explosive device, as indeed was in the Mecca Masjid blast,” the groups pointed out.

“In December last year, not many months ago, the NIA arrested Tej Ram, which it accuses of planting an IED at Mecca Masjid, the one that did not explode. His alleged partner Rajender Choudhary, whose IED did go off, has been in NIA’s custody for a while now. Given that Tej Ram was arrested only months ago, and given also that many of the key aides of Aseemanand and (Col Shrikanth) Purohit (both accused in Malegaon and Samjhauta Express blasts) are still at large, why is there an absolute refusal to pursue that line of investigation?

“Are we to forget the conversations between the retired Major Ramesh Upadhyay and the serving colonel in the army, Purohit, which revealed not in their ability to procure explosives but also their international linkages and patronage?

“To quote:

Maj. (Retd.) Ramesh Upadhyay:..for example what happened in Hyderabad mosque or at other places was not done by anybody from ISI; it was done by our person. On the basis of my information, I can say that it was done by this particular person.

Lt. Col. Purohit: I have done two operations. They were successful Swamiji (Dayanand Pandey), I have the capacity to carry out operations. I have no dearth of equipment (explosives). Once I decide I can procure the equipment...”

Lt. Col. Purohit: “...I am in contact with Israel. One of our captains has visited Israel. Very positive response from their side. They have said “You show us something on ground”. Secondly, they say they cannot support us in the international forum under the present circumstances for two years, till our movement does not gather some momentum. Political asylum any time; equipment and training once we show something on ground. I am trying to achieve that,” the statement quoted.

“What has happened to the full contents of the laptops recovered by the late (Maharashtra ATS chief) Hemant Karkare? We fear that they may be destroyed to hide the names and details of right-wing terrorists. It is surprising that while one elite anti-terror agency has leaked the interrogation report of a suspect to the media, there has been a silencing and secreting of the contents of the two laptops.

“Only a genuine and unbiased probe will be a true homage to those who lost their lives in the utterly senseless violence of Dilsukhnagar bombings. But sadly, that doesn’t appear likely,” the statement notes.

Vicky Nanjappa