Waiting for legal proceedings to begin under police watch inside what looks like a busy court building, Tanveer Ahamed, a skullcap-wearing former doctor at Fauzia Nursing Home at Mumbai’s Nagpada, says in a videotaped interview that police interrogators chided him for his Muslim faith.
“They said I had a bad mentality. I was educated, and yet read the Quran, kept a beard…why couldn’t I be a liberal?” Ahamed says his interrogators told him. Ahamed is among 13 individuals, all Muslims, being tried for their alleged involvement in several terror bombings between 2006 and 2010.
To many Muslims, the war on terror has looked like a war on the community itself. A new exposé by the website gulail.com
, founded by journalist Ashish Khetan, now claims to have damning evidence of how India’s anti-terror police framed 13 innocent Muslims, trumping up charges and withholding crucial evidence from judges that could set them free.
Khetan has cited access to hundreds of classified documents, including detailed investigation reports and police records, to back his claims. In the tapes, many of the accused narrate tales of threats and torture, including water-boarding. The police haven’t yet responded to the charges.
In a petition before the chief justice of Bombay high court, Khetan has alleged that in the terror attacks on Mumbai’s local trains in 2006, in Malegaon in 2006 and at the Pune Best Bakery in 2010 – Maharashtra’s anti-terror squad had “deliberately created bogus evidence”, recorded “false confessions” through torture and even “planted” explosives in the homes of accused.
Two of the 13 men – some of who led ordinary but religious lives – were implicated in all three incidents. So, when the police later arrested Hindu militants for the Malegoan blasts, the accusations came unstuck, putting a big question mark on how terror cases were being handled, according to Khetan.