Justice eludes victims falsely arrested for blast
They are the worst victims of physical and mental torture by police in the Mecca Masjid blast case.
Hyderabad: They are the worst victims of physical and mental torture by police in the Mecca Masjid blast case. But like justice, compensation too seems to elude them till date. A few hours before Mohammed Raeesuddin was to receive a cheque of Rs 300,000 along with 15 others, his name was deleted from the list. Syed Imran Khan and his uncle Shoaib Jagirdar, who were among the first to be arrested on false charges for the May 18, 2007, blast, did not find a place in the list.
There are others who were subjected to police harassment, but are yet to receive the compensation on the ground that there are some cases pending against them. Out of 84 suspects rounded up by police after the blast, the government identified 70 for compensation and paid them Rs 70 lakh. More than 15 of them were denied compensation in last minute changes to the list.
The victims say it is a deliberate attempt by police to deny them the compensation on the pretext of other false cases. Take the case of Mohammed Raeesuddin. He was picked up by police and tortured because he was a witness in another case in which the Gujarat police had shot dead a youth, Mujahid Saleem, in Hyderabad in 2004. "I am a witness in the case. He was my friend and I want the Gujarat police officers who killed him to be punished," Raeesuddin told IANS.
"They lifted me from the road. I was kept in a farmhouse for eight days where I was stripped, thrashed and given electric shocks. The police wanted me to withdraw as witness in the Mujahid case. They threatened to implicate me in the Mecca Masjid case if I did not withdraw," recalls Raeesuddin, who was working in a jewellery shop when he was picked up by police and kept in illegal detention.
Raees feels more than compensation, a character certificate would help him in getting a job. "People don't give me a job as they still view me with suspicion because of the stories cooked up by police," he said.
He complains that police harassment is still continuing. "The police come to my house or call us to police stations on dates like 'Bonalu', 'Ganesh Chaturthi' and Dec 6. They do all the harassment in the name of maintaining peace and law and order in the city."
Syed Imran was an executive in a leading private bank and was about to join a multi-national bank when police picked him and his uncle, Shoaib, in connection with the Mecca Masjid blast case. They were accused of involvement in bringing RDX into the city. Though acquitted, Imran, who spent 18 months in jail, says it is not possible to again lead a normal life. He is now working in a small private firm.
The youngster and his uncle have not been paid the compensation as they are accused in a case of making an illegal passport. The case was booked a few months before they were arrested for the Mecca Masjid blast. "The police accused us of making illegal passports, but the fact is that not even an application for a passport was filed," says Shoaib, a kerosene dealer in Jalna, Maharashtra.
"I don't want money. All I want from them is a character certificate so that I can continue with my job," said Imran, a resident of Bowenpally in Secunderabad.
The son of a retired central government employee, Imran says he will never get a job in a multinational company. "I am still carrying the terrorist tag and facing social stigma. We were once behind bars. we have come out, but we feel that mentally we are still in jail," he said.
There are others who were booked in various cases during their detention in the blast case. "One of them was booked for using a mobile phone in the jail. Such cases are because the police implicated them in the Mecca Masjid case," said Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) legislator, Akbaruddin Owaisi, who wants the government to withdraw all cases against them and pay them the compensation.