In possibly the first instance of its kind in the country, the Andhra Pradesh government has decided to compensate 70 victims of police violence following the May 2007 Mecca Masjid blast.
The men had been falsely implicated in the case and tortured in custody. The 20 men who were the worst affected would get Rs 3 lakh each, the rest Rs 20,000 each.
The announcement of the Rs 70 lakh compensation was made by CM Kiran Kumar Reddy in the Assembly on Monday, prior to the no-confidence vote.
“We have got back our lives,” said Abdul Khader Imran, 30.
Though he has his own auto-rickshaw today and is making ends meet, the days of joblessness after his 6-month stay in jail still haunts him.
For him, and others who were in the same quandary, the character certificate the government will provide means much.
“The police action left a question mark on our character. No one would deal with me, relatives started avoiding my family,” said Aslam Siddiqui, 32. “The cash has no importance. I want the certificate which gives us a clean chit.”
Reddy had directed the police to issue the certificates as part of the “confidence-building measure” and they will be issued within a day or two.
Civil rights leader Mohammed Lateef Khan said all the victims had been tortured by the police, who were keen to secure confessions.
Imran’s ordeal began in the last week of May 2007, when a special police team picked him up from his house. Dubbed an agent of Pakistan’s ISI, he was tortured for weeks, he said.
When he was finally released, no one would give him a job and finally, Majlis-Ittehadul-Muslimeen (MIM) helped him get a loan from state-owned Minority Finance Corporation to buy an auto-rickshaw.
Siddiqui, who studied till class 7, has his own shop in the Tolichowki area and is doing well today.
But he has not forgotten the real victims of the blast — those who lost their near and dear ones. Hours after the government announced the ex-gratia, he rang up four of the beneficiaries and mooted the idea of contributing part of the money to those families, particularly the ones who lost their breadwinners. All of them have agreed, he said.
Civil rights groups and political parties have welcomed the government’s decision.
“It’s a historic decision. It will quicken the socio-economic rehabilitation of the victims,” said PCC general secretary Abid Rasool Khan.
“This will be a lesson for security forces, they will be doubly careful before torturing any innocent,” said an activist of Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee.