Convict in '93 blasts alleges torture

A journal of one of the convicts in the blasts case says he was subjected to brutal torture during interrogation.

india Updated: Dec 12, 2006 12:56 IST

A journal submitted by a convict in the 1993 Mumbai terror bombings before a special court has brought out instances of alleged police brutality and torture of the accused and their families during the probe of India's worst terror act to date.

The journal, presented to the special Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) court by a convict while pleading mercy and which has been taken as an exhibit by the court, highlights the "unknown" other side of the investigations.

The journal, published by the UK-based Indian Muslim Federation was presented to the special TADA judge Pramod Kode by blast accused Zakir Hussain Sheikh on December 4.

Sheikh was convicted on December 4 for conspiracy and aiding and abetting terror along with three others accused.

The journal, which contains stories of alleged police brutality and torture meted out to several blast convicts and their families, including Sheikh, Prince of Tonk and Rhodes scholar Salim Khan Durani and Century Bazaar bomber Abdul Ghani Turk.

According to the journal, one of the most shocking stories is that of Iqbal Haspatel, who was picked up for interrogation and released after 14 days after the police realised that they had "mistakenly" identified a spindle in his house as a sophisticated missile.

The journal alleges that Haspatel and his family members, including women, were subjected to police brutality and torture.

The journal, quoting a letter written to then Maharashtra chief minister Sharad Pawar in May 1993, said the police had ransacked his house and mercilessly beaten up his family members, including women.

"At the police station, all the male members were stripped naked and made to stand in a row in front of their womenfolk for a long period. The women were hit with batons when they closed their eyes with their hands and were forced to see the naked men," Haspatel said in his letter to Pawar.

The journal also stated that the Turk was paralysed below the waist "due to most dreadful third-degree torture by making him squat down and an iron rod passed between his legs and hands and then tied with a rope and the policemen kept on kicking him," it said.

"They stripped me completely and touched my bare shoulders with two live wires. I felt my blood curdle," the journal quoted Durani as saying.

Police and defence lawyers, however, rubbished the allegations saying that it was "pure figment of wild imagination of the convicts".

"It is pure figment of imagination of the convicts. Torture of the sort mentioned in the journal is unthinkable. They are a bunch of lies," said MN Singh, former Mumbai police commissioner, who supervised the probe into the 1993 blasts as joint commissioner of police.

"The document presented to the court is nothing but a version of a few of the convicted. This is not the first time such allegations have been made. Similar allegations were also made at the beginning of the trials," Singh told IANS.

"The convict, by submitting the journal, is only trying to malign the police who have done such a fabulous job and have helped us secure 80 per cent of conviction in the longest trial in the history of Indian judiciary," said Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam.

"The authenticity of the book (journal) is zero. At this juncture it has no relevance at all as the allegations were never made in the last 13 years during the trials by any of the concerned to the court."

On the afternoon of March 12, 1993, a series of explosions cut a swathe through downtown Mumbai, spreading terror and destruction over a two-hour period. Starting from the landmark Bombay Stock Exchange in the south of the city during lunch hour, the blasts extended all the way across Centaur Hotel, Juhu in the north, killing 257 people and damaging property worth Rs 300 mn.

After the 13-year long trials, the court convicted 100 of the 123 accused on trial from September 12.

First Published: Dec 12, 2006 09:51 IST