Ghatkopar blast paradox: Techie Taj-ul-Islam Siddqui too discharged of all terror charges

    By Mohd. Ismail Khan,,

    Hyderabad: In yet another embarrassment for Mumbai Police in Ghatkopar bomb blast investigation, a special POTA court has discharged from all charges the Hyderabad based software engineer Taj-ul Islam Kazi Siddiqui, who was arrested in November 2012 as main absconding conspirator.

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    Taj-ul Islam Kazi Siddiqui was arrested by three plainclothes officials of Mumbai crime branch from his house in Al Hasanath colony of Tolichowki in the suburb of Hyderabad on the night of 21 November 2012.

    His family, which had no idea about identity of those police officers filed a complaint of kidnaping in the Hamayunagar police station. Later after two days on 23 November, the family officially received a phone call from Mumbai Police Crime branch confirming the arrest of Siddique in connection with the Ghatkopar bomb blast.

    Blast site and the accused.

    It was only a day after that Hyderabad Police Commissioner Anurag Sharma confirmed the arrest but made it clear that Mumbai Police carried out their operation without informing Hyderabad Police.

    40 year old Kazi Siddique was a native of Aurangabad district in Maharashtra. Before he started working in Hyderabad, Siddique had also worked in software companies at Chennai and in Bangalore. Siddique is married and have five daughters.

    In 2002 a bomb exploded in a BEST bus at Ghatkopar in Mumbai, which killed two persons and injured nearly 30. In 2005 all the eight accused in the bomb blast were acquitted by the special POTA court.

    The most disturbing part of the bomb blast case was its alleged main accused another software engineer from Prabhani 27 year old Syed Khaja Younus was killed in police custody due to third degree torture allegedly used by Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Waze.

    Waze covered up the custodial death and made up a story that Younis has escaped from police custody and made a dead man an absconder. But later an enquiry by CID found out that Younis’s body was burnt at a farm in Asangaon in Raigad district to cover up custodial death 20 Mumbai crime branch officers including a DCP rank officer was made an accused, but case was put under cold storage. Sachin Waze was put under suspension; he later quit the police force and joined Shiv Sena.

    In the case of Siddique Mumbai police at the time of his arrest claimed that he was a member of SIMI in Aurangabad and escaped to Hyderabad after the bomb blasts and declared him as one of the main conspirators of the blast.

    Mumbai police presented chargesheet of the blast case in which his name was included as conspirator, police then booked him under stringent sections of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) and various sections of the Indian Penal Code.

    Software Engineer Khaja Yunus who was accused in the blast and was killed in Mumbai Crime Branch custody. Later police burned the body to destroy evidence.

    Mumbai police even went on to allege that Siddque was working on a fake name in HCL Hyderabad. But his family was quick to clarify that his full name is Siddique Taj-ul Islam Kazi, but he uses short form of his name Taj Siddiqui at his work place.

    His family who since the beginning was fighting a lone battle for their son has also refuted the claim of Mumbai police that Siddiqui was a SIMI member; at that time his family claimed that Siddiqui was the associate member of SIO student wing of Jamat-e-Islami.

    On April 2013 Siddiqui was granted bail as Mumbai crime branch failed to file the charge sheet in 90 days limit even after given one month extension by the court.

    When he got out on bail Siddiqui found out that he was dismissed by his employer HCL after terror branding. Now after ten months of legal ordeal and terror stigmatization finally on 1 August Mumbai Police retracted from all its claims and informed the special POTA court that they found ‘no evidence’ against Siddiqui.

    In its submission to court Mumbai crime branch stated, “He was not found involved in the case after investigation of related papers. After studying the mirror image of his laptop’s hard disk, no evidence of his involvement in the case or objectionable matter was found,” police also stated that Taj Siddiqui’s e-mail accounts were checked and no evidence linking him to the blast case was found.”

    The court order copy which arrived on Monday discharging Taj Siddqui has brought a sigh of relief for him and his family. But Mr. Siddiqui and his family are still terrified with the events, and none of them is ready to speak with the media.

    Today when The Hindu carried the publication on its front page the whole media circus started rolling over to have Siddqui’s bite.

    A friend of Mr. Siddiqui told TCN that his family does not trust the media because when Siddiqui was arrested his HCL ID card was flashed in all news channels declaring him a ‘Techie Terrorist’.

    With all the media ethics in dustbin some media houses showcased the house in which they were living as tenants, which forced them to shift to another place. No one from the mainstream media, who were writing ‘exclusive’ pieces of police versions had then even bothered to take family’s view.

    His friend informed us that Siddiqui used to earn nearly Rs.70,000 in HCL and after his arrest his family lost the sole bread earner and his old mother’s health started deteriorating.

    He said that Siddiqui’s and his family keeping in mind the history of prosecution in Ghatkopar blast and the fate of Khaja Yunus is scared to act against police for framing false charges.

    SIO state Advisory council member Mohammed Rahmath told TCN that when Taj Siddiqui was arrested it was a mammoth media sensation with journalists writing Mumbai crime branch version as gospel of truth. Now he says, the same journalists are not ready to write a rejoinder on the case after his discharge from terror charges by same Mumbai police.

    Best bus in which explosion occured killing 4 people.

    Rahmath told us at the time of his arrest, Deccan Chronicle wrote an exclusive piece linking Siddiqui with SIMI, when he along with some SIO members went to DC office and complained the writer journalist informed that report was based on version given by Mumbai top cop Himanchu Roy, and they assured SIO delegation that when Siddiqui gets acquitted they will give the same importance.

    But now Rahmath feels all those assurances of media houses were deceits, “When a person gets arrested journalist are ready to make an exclusive story by just reading police press statement. But when the person gets discharged or acquitted they want to meet him personally to make it another exclusive story, even when that discharged person is reluctant in meeting his former branders.”

    Than he adds logically, “If you can write an exclusive sensational report without speaking with accused person’s family, why can’t you write in the same way a rejoinder piece when the same person is discharged.”

    Professional Solidarity Forum of Hyderabad has also demanded that HCL should restore Siddiqui’s job and welcome him voluntarily as now it is being proved that he was framed in false charges by Mumbai crime branch.

    PSF spokesperson told TCN that Siddiqui’s family is so frightened by the procedures that they are unlikely to file a case to claim damages from Mumbai police, so HCL should come forward and help its employee get back to his normal life.

    When news of Siddiqui getting arrested in Ghatkopar blast was made public, Jamat-e-Islami Hind found itself in the dock with media eyes on it; Aaj Tak started showing video images of JIH state headquarters along with running Siddiqui’s arrest story. Jamat-e-Islami to the ire of SIO kept quiet and didn’t even issue a statement.

    Now when Siddqui is discharged Jamat has lashed out at media for its ‘irresponsible reporting’. JIH A.P. state president Khaja Arifuddin told TCN that media should not be biased in their reporting he feared that in sensation market journalist are forgetting their professional ethics. “Media cannot declare a person or organization guilty until it is established in court of law, Siddiqui’s case is one more living example of how media is working in our country”, he said.

    He appealed to the police to work on investigation in professional and unbiased manner by taking all the angles into consideration otherwise investigations will remain inconclusive and innocents will keep on getting framed without any evidence.

    JIH state president has demanded that Government should now compensate and rehabilitate Taj Siddiqui and many other youths like him who are discharged from false terror charges so that they can live in this country as respected citizens.