‘Outcasts in own community’: Life after acquittal for Hyderabad bombing suspects
Ten people were acquitted on all counts as the prosecution failed to prove their role in the attack that killed a home guard and the suicide bomber on October 12, 2005.india Updated: Aug 12, 2017 22:59 IST
The young Muslim suspects in the 2005 Hyderabad suicide bombing spent more than 11 tortuous years in jail awaiting the long-drawn trial to end. They were guilty until proven innocent.
They were among 10 people, including a Bangladeshi man, acquitted on all counts on Thursday as the prosecution failed to prove their role in the attack that killed a home guard and the suicide bomber on October 12, 2005.
They are free men now. “But our life has been ruined completely,” said 34-year-old Mohammad Kaleem on Saturday, walking with a limp from alleged third-degree torture in police custody.
“We have not only lost our precious youth but also our image in society. We are outcasts in our own community,” he said.
Like him, Mohammed Abdul Zahed of Moosarambagh near Malakpet suffered a similar ordeal.
He was just 22 and working at a shop that repairs mobile phones when he was arrested on December 19, 2005, almost two months after the bombing.
Zahed said he was humiliated and ill-treated in jail and branded a Pakistani terrorist. “That pained me a lot. How could they call me a terrorist without proof?”
“My crime was that I happened to be the brother of Shahid Bilal, who police suspected to be a terrorist working for HuJI (Harkat-ul-Jihad al Islami) … He was killed in Pakistan in 2007,” he said.
For 33-year-old Syed Haji, the experience in jail is too traumatic to speak about.
“It will take the whole day to finish,” he said, trying to find a way to “restart” his life as his parents died when he was in jail and his relatives are refusing to accept him now.
Similarly, Zahed’s father Mohd Abdul Wahed was a respectable headmaster of a government school and he exiled himself in his home fearing social stigma after his two son headlined in media for alleged acts of terrorism.
“He is 87 and my mother is 82. I have to take care of them and build my life from scratch,” Zahed said.
Kaleem’s widowed mother, Khairunnisa Begum, faced social boycott after her son’s arrest. She was thrown of her rented house and forced to move to a nephew’s place.
“I was to get married within a couple of months … then the arrest happened. She married someone else,” said the man whose father, Abdul Kareem, was a retired head constable.
Kaleem was a welder at a shop that makes iron grills. He was picked up when he was returning home at Amberpet from a relative’s wedding in Nalgonda district on December 17, 2005.
“Police told me I would be let off in an hour after questioning about a petty case involving clashes over a local dispute in 2004. But for the next three days, they tortured me, forced me to sign some papers and produced me in court,” he recalled.
“On the second day of my judicial remand I came to know that I was implicated in the suicide bombing case.”
He got bail after nine months and sent back to jail again.
“Since then, I was shifted from one jail to another … Hyderabad, Visakhapatnam, Rajahmundry, Warangal and Kadapa. In 2011, the cops filed another attempt-to-murder case against me, accusing me of assaulting a jailer. It was struck off in April 2016,” he said.
In 2015, Kaleem’s health deteriorated from tumours in his lungs. After doctors warned that he might die in jail, authorities sent him to Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences in Hyderabad for surgery and treatment.
These three men were among 10 suspects taken into custody after a special investigation team (SIT) of police accused 20 people in a charge-sheet, filed a year since the blast. The investigators said three suspects died and seven more were on the run.
After their acquittal, the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi asked if the investigating officers will be made accountable. Police couldn’t prove the conspiracy, but the accused lost 10 years of their lives in jails, he said.