‘My service to Swami made him confess’
Shaikh Abdul Kaleem, 23, an accused in the Mecca Masjid blast who spent 18 months in jail on terror charges, is believed to be the man who inspired Malegaon blast accused Swami Assemanand to confess to his role in the Malegaon and Mecca Masjid blast, among others.
Acquitted in the blasts case, he met Aseemanand when he was sent to Chanchalguda jail in Hyderabad for allegedly trying to smuggle a mobile phone in for his imprisoned brother.
In Mumbai on Thursday to participate in the rally to demand the release of the 13 men accused in the 2006 Malegaon blasts, Kaleem says terror has no religion
When were you arrested for the Mecca Masjid blast?
I was first picked up on June 3, 2007 and was confined to an unknown location for four days. The police beat me and tortured me. After four days of torture, I was named as an accused in the case and sent to jail after a few days.
My older brother, Shaikh Khaja, used to work in Saudi Arabia and the police said that he too was a terrorist. They arrested him last year and claimed that they brought him to India from Sri Lanka.
When did you first meet Swami Aseemanand?
After being exonerated from the previous case, I had gone to visit my brother Shaikh Khaja at Chellapalli jail on October 30. The police caught me and accused me of trying to smuggle in a mobile phone for my brother. I was taken to Chanchalguda jail on October 31.
A few days later, Swami Aseemanand was brought there. I did not know who he was and I don’t know why or how he asked the jailor about me. He was told that I was a terror suspect. He greeted me and I greeted him back.
What did he say?
When he met me, he immediately apologised. It seems someone had told him that I was in jail for the Mecca Masjid blast.
The first time we met, I told him how much the police had tortured me and how I had suffered. I told him about how many other innocent Muslim boys are suffering. Aseemanand broke down. I then met him two more times but the meetings were short because there was high security around him.
What kind of interactions did you have with him?
He was in the barrack next to mine. I used to take food and water for him.
Did you feel any anger towards him?
Initially. But I later realised that it was of no use. Ultimately, it was not my anger but my service to him that made him realise his mistake and he confessed.
Do you have complaints against the police or government?
I want the government to realise that terror has no religion and that they should investigate cases with an open mind and arrest the culprits rather targeting Muslims.
What are your plans now?
I was studying medicine when I was arrested but now my mother wants me to be a lawyer and help all those who have been wrongly jailed. So, I am studying to be a lawyer.