What happened after the 2007 serial blasts in Hyderabad?

By Kaneez Fathima,

The serial blasts which rocked the Hyderabad city in the year 2007, the first major one at Macca Masjid and then twin blasts – one at Lumbini Park and another at Gokul Chat (eatery). Several people were killed in the blasts, and scores others were severely injured. Police started randomly picking up the youths, especially Muslims, from twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad (not a single youth from any other community). What did this ‘picking up’ mean? It was not arrest as such, but they were abducted, kidnapped, which is otherwise called as ‘Illegal Detention’.

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Immediately after the blasts, the fact finding teams rushed to the places of incidents and brought out the facts through their reports. Similarly on the other side when the Muslim youths were indiscriminately getting picked up illegally from their homes, shops etc, civil liberty groups formed fact finding team and visited the families of the victims, spoke to them and brought out the facts.

The frisking operations by the police continued extensively for the three months, after the blasts, in 2007. A large number of Muslim youths were illegally detained in unknown places, some remanded to judicial custody. Under the pretext of investigations, these youths were targeted by the police. While under illegal detention and wrongful confinement, they were tortured physically and mentally, administered electric shocks, stripped naked, abused with filthy language, humiliated, sleep denied, threatened of abduction and rape of women of their households, threatened of false implication of their own selves and their family members in terrorism cases and threatened of killing them in fake encounters.

Many of them suffered long periods of torture – they were hung either by the hands or upside down by the legs for long periods, brutally beaten with sticks, rubber and leather objects, made to lie down and beaten, piercing of needles into the sensitive area around the nipples, heavy objects hung from the detainees’ private parts, firing ammunition near the ears of the detainees and making claims that the next rounds of fire would be into the heads of the detainees. Electric shocks were given to the ear lobes, nipples and the private parts (penis and scrotum) and so on. The police also used unprintable abusive words telling those who screamed out “Allah, Allah” in extreme pain to call out “Bhagwaan” instead, and in some cases went to the extent of telling them to drink urine when asked for water to drink. All the above were the systematic violation of constitutionally guaranteed rights, both human and civil.

Before producing them in front of magistrates, they were held in secret places akin to torture camps, till the marks of injury began fading, giving them heavy doses of pain killers and cautioned them of more severe adverse consequences if they revealed the torture. These details were highlighted in several reports including the report by Advocate Ravi Chander, appointed by the Andhra Pradesh State Minorities Commission, the report by the Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee, the fact finding committee that went to the Cherlapally jail and also many press reports. And yet apparently there were no questions by the learned magistrates from the detainees as to how they were treated from the time of arrest to the production, nor any question as to why the production was always in the night times, when lawyers would not be present.

The language used by the police officials for the detainees was filthy and abusive, detainees were asked to confess else their sisters and mothers would be brought before them, stripped and raped, and then they would confess and sign on the papers on which the police already have ‘recorded’ their alleged statements and then claim those to be as “confessional statements” of the detainees.

The police have systematically brutalized the detainees and have so badly ruined their lives and those of their families that they are a shattered lot. Their social, academic, professional/service related lives are a complete shambles, they stand stigmatized as terrorists or terrorist’s supporters, have been brazenly told in many words by the policemen that in future any such untoward thing happens, they will be automatically picked up as suspects, and if they dare to make an issue, they will face a worse fate.

None of the family members were informed about the arrests or illegal detention for more than 10-25 days. All the detainees were subjected to third degree torture methods. All the detainees were from the poor background, where in most of the cases, the detainee himself was the sole bread winner of the family.

It would have been impossible for the detainees to bring the details to the attention of the outside world, had it not been for the fact that because of repeated complaints by several concerned civil rights groups and civil society organizations, the AP State Minorities Commission decided to appoint a person as advocate commissioner to visit the jail where the detainees had been confined to and take along with that commissioner, a medical specialist with expertise in forensic science, in order to assess the truth of police excesses and high handedness.

The bail petitions filed by the advocates in the Trial courts/ sessions court were rejected thrice. Then after that the bail petition was filed in high court for one person and was successful to secure the bail. Following this the bail petitions for other detainees were also filed, and slowly all the youths secured bail. The media always reported that these youths were booked in the cases of bomb blasts, but the detainees were actually booked in the conspiracy cases.

The 26 youths booked under the cases of Cr. No. 198/2007and Cr. No. 75/2007, were acquitted by the 7th Additional sessions judge of Nampally court and dismissed the case no. 75/07 for the reason that the special investigation team of the police had not provided any evidence or proof to establish the charges against these people.

Although the youths detained, tortured and arrested by the police are all acquitted by the courts, the cases of the blast in Macca Masjid in May 2007 and the twin blasts at Lumbini Park and Gokul Chat in August 2007 still remain unresolved.

(The author is attached with the Hyderabad-based rights group Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee. India)

Website: Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee. India

Ravi Chander report: http://www.twocircles.net/2009apr08/ravi_chander_report_reveals_torture_and_illegal_detention_ap_police.html