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ATS haste that brought hell to an entire family

Thursday March 10, 2011 09:11:06 PM, Aleem Faizee,

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On March 06, few days before the crucial hearing in the Special MCOCA court March 10 on the bail application filed by the Muslim youths charged in the 2006 Malegaon blast case, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) hinted that Mumbai Police's elite Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) had in its rush to solve the case named two of the accused without realising that one of them was languishing in jail while another was 700 kms away from the town on September 08, 2006 when a series of blasts struck outside a mosque in Malegaon – the Muslim dominated town in North Maharashtra.

Strangely, the CBI took more than four years and needed Swami Aseemanand’s confession to come to this conclusion. Otherwise, earlier it too was following the same ATS line, though it gave hints of breakthrough in the case on November 16, 2009 when it said in the court that it did not have any evidence against the Muslim youths arrested in the case.

That the incident should be probed with transparency and professional manner was demanded ever since the incident and even before the victims were taken for their last journey. It was raised in front of RR Patil, who as Home Minister of the state, had rushed to the town the same evening. A week later, the demand was again raised in front of the same man when a high level delegation met him at Sahyadri Rest House in Mumbai.

Thereafter, there are countless instances when the demand for transparent investigation was raised and in front of everyone - right from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Mrs. Sonia Gandhi to Maharashtra Governor and state CM Vilasrao Deshmukh. They all promised that fair and impartial probe into the incident would be done and also that no injustice would be done to anyone. However, the Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) was perhaps working on totally different game plan. It was hell bent on implicating innocent Muslim youths in the case and as is now hinted by the CBI, was “in a rush to close the case”. Despite big claims about justice and fairness by its masters, the ATS arrested one by one the youths who were under continuous police surveillance since years and booked them for the crime they were not responsible of.

And the people in Malegaon, who believed that the arrested Muslim youths had nothing to do with the inhuman and shameless terror act, were helpless. They could not do much due to the hapless government which turned a blind eye to their legitimate and just demand. But, when they learnt that the ATS had arrested Mohd Zahid from Phoolsawangi, a place some 700 kms from Malegaon, they sent a team comprising of dignitaries, advocates and journalists to inquire about his whereabouts at the time of the incident. They were aghast to find that Mohd Zahid was in Phoolsawangi at the time of the blast yet the ATS implicated him in the case.

Incidentally, the team that visited Phoolsawangi called a press meet on its arrival in Malegaon, and in front of the media disclosed their report, and the undertakings given by more than 200 people confirming that Mohd. Zahid was present in Phoolsawangi on September 08, 2006. The same was published by everyone – including leading English dailies.

Moreover, after it was established that Mohd Zahid was not in Malegaon at the time of incident, people in Malegaon were wondering what charge the ATS would impose on him. They were surprised to note that the ATS, despite the fact that the entire thing about Mohd Zahid had already hit the headlines, described him in its chargesheet as one of the bomb planters.

As is now hinted by the CBI, “the ATS was in a hurry to close the case”, so it did what it wanted. But its chargesheet that indicted Mohd Zahid as planter gave further credence to the local claim that the entire ATS case was actually cooked up to frame the innocents.

However, in a rush to close the case, the ATS never realised what kind of hell it is bringing to Mohd Zahid’s family. The family was already under tremendous pressure as the police had arrested Zahid’s younger brother Mohd Javed, few months’ before the 2006 Malegaon blast, reportedly claiming, ‘Mohd Javed is actually Mohd. Zahid’. The arrest was a severe blow for the family as it claimed Mohd Zahid, fed up of police interrogations because of his alleged association with the banned outfit SIMI, had left home years before and the family was not aware of his whereabouts since then.

The horrified family’s trauma did not end here. Left with sleepless nights due to enormous pressure and mental torture unleashed by the biased investigating officers, the family had to bear the brunt of a natural disaster when the younger brother of Mohd Zahid died in an accident. He was coming to his house one night in the last monsoon when lightening took his life.

Though the court that was supposed to give its decision on the bail plea of the accused March 10 did not take note of what the CBI hinted on March 06 and again deferred its ruling till March 15, one expects that the CBI will at least now mend the mistakes, intentionally or unintentionally, committed by the ATS.

At the same time, the government too needs to answer whom it would make accountable for the trauma the familles of the accused had to undergo during this entire period? Who will pay for the mental torture Mohd. Zahid’s father had to endure in the old age? Who will compensate for the sufferings of Zahid’s mother, who is now half mad, and sitting outside of her house, keeps asking every onlookers when her sons would come out of the prison?






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