When Sayed Khwaja Yunus Sayed Ayub got a job as software engineer in Dubai in 2000, his family had rejoiced. But his parents’ dreams were shattered within a year and nine months.
Yunus, who had returned to his sleepy town of Parbhani, 200 km from Aurangabad, on November 11, 2002, was branded a terrorist by the Mumbai Police and arrested on Christmas in 2002 in connection with the Ghatkopar train blast case.
The worst was yet to come.Glancing through old photographs of her 25-year-old son, 65-year-old Hashiya Begum said: “This one is among the last two photographs that I have of Yunus. The remaining have been taken away by the policemen on one pretext or the other who kept visiting my house for nearly six months after Yunus was killed.”
So, while the ruling Congress-led coalition lashes out at the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party government in Gujarat for killing Sohrabuddin Sheikh, Kauser Bi and Tulsiram Prajapati as alleged Laskhar-e-Tayyeba operatives, it seems to have forgotten the blotch left by the custodial murder case of Yunus in Maharashtra.
Encounter deaths in Maharashtra have come to be defined by the larger-than-life images that “encounter specialists” enjoy in the state’s police force. They were often eulogised by the media and public, with films made in their tribute.
It is another matter, though, that 14 policemen have been charged with involvement. They include seven sub-inspectors, assistant inspectors and inspectors. While the API Sachin Vaze has been suspended, rest have been transferred out of Mumbai limits so that they do not influence the investigation.
For nearly two months, the CID investigated the death on a first information report (FIR) filed by Vaze. It claimed that Yunus had escaped from police custody after the police vehicle in which he was being taken for investigation to Aurangabad turned turtle in the western district of Ahmednagar.
The CID also appealed to the Supreme Court against a Bombay High Court order to file a separate FIR. It was only after the apex court threw the appeal out that the CID filed a separate chargesheet based on the statement of Abdul Mateen, a co-accused in the Ghatkopar blast case, who also told the court about the alleged torture meted out to Yunus in custody.