By Mohd. Ismail Khan, TwoCircles.net,
“Police must ensure that no innocent has the feeling of sufferance only because ‘My name is Khan, but I am not a terrorist’,” this was the comment of Supreme Court bench of justice H.L. Dutta and C.K. Prasad on September 26th while giving a judgment on misuse of TADA. Though this judgment was meant for Gujarat police, the observation by learned judges was general. First time acknowledgment from the highest institution in the nation that indeed innocents were being targeted in Government’s ambitious and security agencies ambiguous ‘war against terror’.
Syed Imran Khan is one such victim of the biased police system and was literally bowled by it. On this same day five years back Imran, then a third year engineering student was rotting in jail as police charged him as the mastermind of Mecca Masjid bomb blast who kept 10kg RDX in his house to blow up whole Hyderabad.
Three years after his acquittal Imran narrates his appalling tale, that how a young computer engineering student and part time bank operator with such a moderate approach ended up being branded as ‘dreadful terrorist’ which could give us an insight in the continuing whole war against terror theory in India.
Imran’s case was exceptional he was the only youth arrested from Hyderabad being charged withdirect involvement in the blast, others were booked in conspiracy cases. Imran said police built up his connection with Abdul Nayeem, a resident of Aurangabad a friend of his uncle ShoaibJagirdar who visited their house for making a passport in Hyderabad as he was finding it difficult to make one in Aurangabad due to some criminal cases pending against him. Imran said he didn’t know that Nayeem had criminal record back in Aurangabad.Nayeem stayed at Imran’s house for a dayand left after finding difficult to get passport from Hyderabad. Nayeem was subsequently arrested in Aurangabad arms recovery case.
After the Masjid blast Nayeem was presented as accomplice of ShahidBilal who at that time according to the police was a HUJI commander who ordered the blast in the mosque. With recent visit of Nayeem in Hyderabad before the blast it was easy for the Hyderabad police to build up local connection and exactly after seven days after the blast on next Friday Imran was in the Hyderabad police torture chamber.
Nine days in torture chamber of Hyderabad police
Imran recounts his arrest and torture tale. On Thursday evening Imran returned home after playing a cricket match when police barged into his house and arrested him, he said it was like a movie scene, “There were four police vans with many officers, when they got me out of my house, I saw some police officers on the terrace pointing sniper rifles on my chest, it was just like one movie scene but it caught whole neighborhood in terror.”
Next Imran Khan found himself in a chamber with mask on his head naked lying on the floor getting the beatings and kicks of the police. Imran was tortured for consecutive nine days in a police farm house in the suburbs of Hyderabad. “There were many youths with me in that torture chamber, all were naked,we all were tortured in a consecutive way to grip us into fear. Four officers used to beat me till their breath goes up then they used to give me painkiller tablets, hour later the same event continues. They gave electric shocks to our private parts by making us standing in line. Police officers used to bark only this line ‘Accept that you have planted bomb in the masjid’,” as Imran recounts his torture tale.
Syed Imran Khan
When after nine days of torture Imran was presented before the magistrate it was then he realized that this moment police is above all even the constitution. He said, “I was presented to a magistrate named AteequrRehman, I complained to him about the torture which I have suffered, to my surprise he did nothing and handed me back to police custody, police officers in the van beat me again for opening my mouth in front of magistrate, this was the time I realized that police is now above the constitution and law.”
Imran said he can recognize each and every police officer who had tortured him, one of them he said was infamous cop from Hyderabad P. Ramachandran, who headed SIT at that time which was investigating the blast case. Imran said he often encounters that cop on the roads of the city, but can’t do anything but watch helplessly the man who treated him worse than an animal for nine days. Ramachandran was even arrested by ACB for disproportionate assets worth Rs1.64 crore, he was suspended but later after two years his suspension was revoked, and he was promoted from inspector to ACP (reportedly by the recommendation of a powerful politician from Hyderabad). Imran said this cop got his reward for arresting nearly 100 Muslim youths and conducting a phony probe in the Masjid blast.
18 months in jail
Imran rotted in jail for 18 months. Before being acquitted he was on the front pages of every newspaper pronouncing him ‘Atankwadi’ (terrorist). The Hindu’s Praveen Swami declared him as HUJI militant.Imran tells one Hindi news channel used to run his pic with a byline ‘yahihaimasoomchehraAtankwadkepiche’ with images of blast victims on the backside.
He rememberson the incident where he understood how irresponsible and biased media could become. During his Narco analysis test he was in Bowring and Lady Curzon hospital in Bangalore, before heading for Narco test at FSL laboratory, where on the reception he saw TV9 Kannada was playing his pictures with breaking news. When he enquired with one of the staffer about what is being played, he got the reply that it is reported you have admitted your guilt and given vital leads to trace RDX, it was one hour before the Narco test.
Imran said during his trial police in well planned manner tried to transform all his progressive gains into his complicity with terror attack. Imran said his part time job in ICICI was used to brand him terror fund organizer; his computer background was used to declare to be useful for preparing bomb. Even his past association with Scouts and guides and athletic abilities were used in the case, to make him look trained for the purpose.
Police in their charge sheet stated that 10 years back Imran went for terror training in PoK, “At the time of my arrest I was 21 what is the logic behind 11 year old boy crossing border for terror training.” Imran asked.Even he was not spared by the top police brass, commissioner of police of Hyderabad at that time went on record to declare that arrested accused (Imran) has brought 10 kg RDX in the city and only 800 gm.was used in the Masjid blast. Now Imran wonders where is that huge sum of RDX which was enough to blow up whole city, till date Hyderabad police is unable to recover that alleged RDX, no one knows either earth has eaten it, or sky had swallowed it.
For Imran in this whole episode apart from torture the most horrific thing for him was Narco Analysis test which was done without his consent even though it doesn’t have any legal standing. He said Narco test seriously affected his brain; he was Narcoed two times in a span of eight days. It was after his Narco report by Dr. S. Malini he was in much trouble, because the Narco analysis test declared that Imran knew the terror plot and participated in its execution. Imran said he went to court to get the CDs of Narco test but never got even a minute clip. However in the following year Dr. Malini was suspended from FLS laboratory for making false brain mapping document in another case.
But Imran still considers him lucky enough as one more accused with him, Nayeem was Naroced four times and became temporary insane due to it.
Acquitted of all terror charges
Finally on 4-11-2008 Imran was acquitted from all charges of terrorism by 4th metropolitan second class magistrate. Life was even tougher for Imran outside the jail. He said people still fear to meet him. When he went back to Lord Institute of Technology to complete his computer engineering he was denied admission, “Only when I threaten them to sue in the court they allowed me to sit for exams and even reduced 10,000 from fees, I think that is the only benefit I got out of this face.” He said in a humor approach.
Imran till now has been fired from Tata Consultancy Service, and GENPAC after his background check was done. He said it is difficult to get good and decent job now, every MNC does a background check and I know no one wants a former branded terrorist in their company.
The police harassment and court trials have still not ended for Imran Khan. He is also being framed for allegedly helping Nayeemget a fake passport. And he said trial of this case is not going in a proper way, every time trial date comes judge either is absent or unavailable. He said due to this case he was unable to receive character certificate and Rs3 lakh compensation amount which Andhra Pradesh govt. has provided to the acquitted Muslim youths in the Mecca masjid bomb blast case. Strong irony the man who was arrested as mastermind suffered inhuman torture, spent more amount of time than any other accused in jail is being denied his right.
Now he believes that compensation money and character certificate has become a distress in disguise. He said “Till that fake passport case is not finished, I can’t get that certificate and cash amount and police officers don’t want me to get that certificate and compensation amount, so they are delaying the proceedings of that case making my future to hang on thread of fate.”
Imran believeshe was being targeted just because as Supreme Court puts it ‘My name is Khan’.