On Friday, the government handed over Rs 3 lakh compensation to 16 youngsters who were wrongly implicated in the Mecca Masjid blast. But the Muslim community from Hyderabad is still miffed. According to them, the biggest compensation would be to punish the police officials who tortured the innocent youths. Moreover, they also claim that around 80 youths who deserve the compensation have been left out by the government.
The Andhra Pradesh government's compensation of Rs 3 lakh to the 16 youths from Hyderabad who were falsely implicated in the Mecca Masjid blast will bring little relief.
The Mecca Masjid case, in which youths from Hyderabad were illegally detained, is considered a turning point in the city's history. The wrong investigation changed the social dynamics in the Andhra capital.
The question today is whether government's decision to hand over compensation to the youths will bring about a much-required sense of peace in the Muslim community who feel that they have been wronged. Many feel that justice is still not done.
For starters, the list that has been drawn up is selective and many youths have been left out. Secondly, the biggest compensation would be to punish those officers who conducted a wrong probe. And thirdly, they would have preferred if the money came out the government coffers instead of the Mecca Masjid funds. But most importantly, they will like to see the real culprits behind bars.
According to Lateef Mohammad Khan, the convenor of the Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee, which has been fighting for these youths, the compensation will be looked at as the first step towards justice. "It's definitely a beginning and not the end of the road. The anger among the community will disappear only if more action is taken," he said.
"Look at the list of youths who are being compensated. Is the government saying that only 16 Muslims were wrongly implicated? There are 80 more youths who were illegally detained and they are not part of the list. I wish the 16 youths had rejected the compensation, but it would be unfair to suggest that since they are poor and in need of money. The government is aware of their desperation," said Khan.
He said the Muslim community is hurt by the way the government has treated them. "They have destroyed our families and are now throwing money at us as though we are beggars. The fight will continue and we are not withdrawing the case of compensation and damages that we have filed before the civil court."
But the minority community is most angered by the fact that the government is protecting the 20-odd police officers, who conducted the probe. "Despite being aware of the fact that these officers have erred the government has given them promotion. Moreover, senior lawyers have been hired to protect them," said Khan.
"The government is aware that the firing in the aftermath of the blast was a mistake. The Bhaskar Rao commission has stated that the police did what they had to do, but could have taken precautions. We have taken this up before the high court and the government has chosen to fight us," he added.
According to him, the Central Bureau of Investigation probe in the Mecca Masjid case is very slow. The government is not investigating the local angle in the case, he alleges. "We know people who have supported local groups involved in the blast, but the investigators care little."
"Merely throwing compensation is not the solution. I wish the above-mentioned issues are addressed and a proper rehabilitation package is granted," he said.
Khan furnished names youths who do not find a mention in the government's compensation list but deserve relief. Sameer Khan, Naseeruddin, Masood Ahmed, Imraan Khan, Syed Ismail Baig, Syed Zulfiqar Ahmed, Abdul Raffey, Abdul Wassey, Shakeel, Abdul Saleem, Sheikh Mehboob, Muneeruddin Mujahid, Abdul Majid and Abdul Sattar are a few youths who were picked up by the police following the Mecca Masjid blast.
"All of them have alleged torture by the police and today state that they ought to have been compensated and do not understand why their names had been left out," he said.