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Zaheera flip-flops on choice of jail

Mar 16, 2006 01:31 PM IST India India

Mumbai: Zaheera Sheikh, the prime witness in the Best Bakery case who was sentenced to one year jail term by the Supreme Court for her flipflops, has maked another U-turn. She told a Mumbai court on Thursday that Mumbai police was ill-treating her and she wants to go to Gujarat.

Earlier, Zaheera had told the court that she did not want to serve the sentence in a Gujarat prison and would like to be in a Maharashtra jail. But on Thursday, Zaheera urged the court that she be sent to Gujarat.

She alleged in the court that the Mumbai Police was not allowing her to offer namaaz and denying her food. The court sent her to judicial custody till March 20.

The Supreme Court has sentenced Zaheera to a year in jail and fined Rs 50,000 for contempt of court. Zaheera frequently changed her statements in court during the Best Bakery trial.

When Judge Abhay Thipsay inquired why she was changing her stand and wanted to go to a Gujarat jail, Zaheera alleged: "I want to go to Vadodara, they (police) will kill me here. They are not giving proper food and allowing me to perform namaaz."
The judge then inquired from policemen accompanying her to the court as to why she was denied these facilities.

A woman constable informed the court that Zaheera was demanding non-vegetarian food, which cannot be given to her, and that she was asking for a dupatta (scarf) to cover her head during namaaz.

The constable said under the rules a scarf could not be provided, but that she was being allowed to perform namaaz.

The court then ordered that Zaheera should not be treated very harshly and that better facilities should be provided to her like home food and offering namaaz. The court also ordered police to detain her in custody till March 20 and produce her on that day to answer to the show-cause notice issued to her and her family members on perjury charges during the retrial of Best Bakery case in Mumbai.

The Judge also noted that the Supreme Court had not yet clarified on the manner in which the one year jail term awarded to Zaheera has to be executed, hence it is fit and proper to keep her custody till March 20.

(With agency inputs)