Blast from the Past: The hidden/torture/frame-up story of the Mumbai 93′ Bomb Blasts
By Amaresh Misra and
the AIPF team
I had written this story way back in 2005 for Tehelka magazine. Etmad Khan, another journalist was my accomplice. We jointly did a sting operation on PW2, the approver of this world famous case. For reasons known and unknown, a very watered down version of this story was published in one of 2005 Tehelka issues.
Maybe today for many the story has lost its relevance. But for me, it remains an unforgettable experience, a reminder of the cruel lengths to which communal/fascist forces can go to torture Muslim and non-Muslim under-trials. Please see the entire way men, women and children were tortured—a case by case account is given with bullet mark points below.
I decided to expose this story with new inputs by AIPF activists now as back then the many faceless victims got no sympathy or a proper hearing from either the Indian judiciary or the civil society. Judgment of the TADA court on the issue has been pronounced and several accused have been given death sentences. Their case is before the Supreme Court now.
I believe in a just God. I believe that justice will be served in some way on the perpetrators of this crime against humanity. The Times of India, Hindustan Times, Indian Express, India Today, and Hindu etc have consistently ignored this story. The foreign American and British liberal media has been equally callous.
But justice shall be served to them—who ignore such sufferings—also. Serving Mumbai Police officers like Rakesh Maria and MN Singh will have to answer in this world for their crimes. Maybe someone will take up this issue in whatever way they deem fit.
One possible point of this story today is that it makes the campaign run by All India Patriotic Forum (AIPF) and the American Federation of Muslims of Indian Origin (AFMI) for the passing of `Atrocities against Minorities (prevention) act’ and `Torture and Compensation Bill’, all the more relevant. The AFMI and the AIPF are going to organize a civil rights march in February 2009 in Delhi.
I do not have a media platform. So I hope that whoever receives this will make copies and circulate it in the print or whatever form.
For many, it just might change their lives.
And yes—please read the full text.
On 12th March 1993, thirteen bomb blasts rocked Mumbai. Arrests followed soon after. By the end of 1993 about 198 accused’ had been charge-sheeted. By then the CBI had taken over the case. The charge against the accused’ then was `waging war against the state’. All accused’ were booked under TADA, a draconian black act promulgated in 1987. Super seeding the regular Indian Penal system, where confessions before the Police are not admissible in Court, TADA gave the police the right to record confession.
Barring a few exceptions the main TADA accused’ were all Muslims. The Mumbai blast case was seen as one where Muslims had conspired to attack India. A general anti-Muslim phobia gripped the Mumbai police. After the American 9/11 attack on twin towers, Mumbai Bomb Blasts were called India’s 9/11.
But in the CBI charge sheet submitted to the special TADA Court the number of accused’ came down to 135; the charge of waging war against the State was dropped. The charge sheet mentioned revenge for the Babri Masjid Demolition (6th December 1992) and Mumbai riots (1992-93) as the motive.
The Babri Masjid demolition and Mumbai riots were then seen as communal acts in which the Indian State power sided with fascist Hindu elements to target Muslims.
The Mumbai bomb blast case began in 1993 and has continued till this date viz April 2005. First JN Patel was the TADA judge; Mr. Pramod Kode replaced him in the late 90s.
In its 12 year span the Mumbai blast case has seen several ups and downs—amongst the 135 accused’ more than 35, including Dawood Ibrahim, Tiger Memon absconded. About 35 or so got bail in the 90s—the rest are still languishing in jail.
Allegedly, the Chota Rajan gang killed seven amongst those who got bail. Many others were attacked: All through the 90s the accused’ kept making allegations and submitting petitions to the TADA judge regarding their safety. The accusation of a Chota Rajan-Home Ministry nexus to eliminate Bomb blast accused’ was common.
The TADA Judge ignored these petitions. No accused was given security—furthermore the accused’ brought forward serious charges of fourth degree torture against the police.
The accused’ alleged that police were extracting confession with force, a power not given even by the TADA act. TADA Clause 15 (a) states clearly that confession has to be before a DCP and that too voluntarily. The sign of the accused has to be in each page of the confession.
The accused’ alleged that in a bid to extract confessions the police used barbaric methods. A sample is given below:
§ Young naked Manzoor Ahmad was told to insert his penis into the mouth of Zaibunnisa Kazi, a woman of his mother’s age.
§ Najma (the sister of Shahnawaz Querishi, an accused) was forced to fondle her father’s penis and eat his shit too.
§ Najma’s father Wali was sinisterly `informed’ that his children’s real father was someone else.
§ Then Police Commissioner MN Singh told Salim Durrani, who belongs to a royal family of Tonk, Rajasthan, that he was being booked under TADA in the blast case especially because he was an ex-Muslim Nawab. Salim Durrani’s head was forced down into the toilet bowl to eat feces. When his head could not reach deep down enough the said detainee was force to use his hand.
§ Nafeesa (accused Majid Khan’s wife) spent two months in jail in a single night suit, badly sinking and soaked in menstrual blood. Like they did in the case of other women prisoners the police had not provided a sanitary pad to her.
§ Accused Shahid had 4 epileptic attacks during his detention; his mother Hasina has so averred before the High Court.
§ Rukhsana (accused Ghulam Hafiz’s sister-in-law) was released only when pre-natal pangs gripped her.
§ Parveen (accused Shahnawaz’s sister) was detained for 15 days. On release she gave birth to a physically weak child who could not survive beyond three months.
§ Saaeda (accused Zakir Hussein’s sister) was viciously beaten up in front of her 41 days old infant child who too was slapped. She was not allowed to breast feed the baby for hours together.
§ Shabana (accused Abdul Rehman’s daughter) was stripped and beaten despite her late pregnancy.
§ Noorjahan (accused Shahnawaz’s wife) was not permitted to clothe her infant child when she was nabbed and dumped in the police jeep.
§ Accused Iqbal Haspatel was repeatedly taunted about the paternity of his children.
§ Zahida (Haspatel’s daughter) was separated from her child and detained for 15 days at Srivardhan police station; she was callously refrained from breast feeding her baby.
§ Mrs Anwar Theba a newly married convent educated girl was stripped and her naked body placed on ice slab while drunken policemen violated her naked body. Cigarette burns were inflicted on her body.
§ Farzana (Ghulam Hafiz’s wife), Noorjahan (Shahnawaz Abdul Kader Qureshi’s wife, Safia (Abdul Khan’s wife) who were detained alongside other women for several days with their small children had to sustain themselves on water and tea for several days.
§ Policemen brought milk and food from outside for fees ranging from Rs. 5 Rs. 100. The food served to all inmates comprised 2 small loaves of bread and a pouch of tea served at 12:30 in the afternoon and 4 loaves of bread was watery daal at 8: 30 in the evening.
§ Water was scarce even for drinking. Many women inmates were forced to drink their urine.
§ Medical treatment was a taboo. Only those unfortunate ones were taken to the hospital who had been beaten `within an inch of their (sic) lives’ by the police. In all such cases victims were admitted under false names. The late Rahim Karbelkar who for months was pleading jail authorities as well as designated court for medical court died within a few hours of his admission to the JJ hospital.
§ Those who could manage to stand up were taken to the dispensary on foot. Hand cuffed they were forced to walk bare foot under the sun, being dragged by sneering and swearing cops who willfully avoided shady pathways. Such punitive ordeals were reserved especially for those who clamored for medical relief.
§ Putting dirty chappals in the mouth was a regular practice.
§ The pregnant Shabana was made naked and forced to beat her father with chappals.
§ Inserting chilly powder into the private parts of was a regular part of the torture. Most victims have developed permanent piles.
§ Genitals of men and women were targeted in a most morbid manner.
§ Urine and feces were part of the food, spitting into mouth of prisoners and spitting by especially bought lepers was a regular affair. The police enjoyed all such incidents.
§ Wives were `advised, by lecherous policemen to become prostitutes.
§ Electric shocks were rampant and the human genital was the target most favored by the police.
§ Family members were given sticks and belts to beat each other.
§ Whenever women, to avoid obscenity tried to cover their eyes, severe beating was unleashed on their hands. Their hair locks were savagely pulled up. They were forced to see the stripped torsos of their men for hours together.
§ Small children and infants were incarcerated; they too were subjected to physical and sexual torture.
§ Several individuals, including Raj Kumar Khurana, owner of the Stomach restaurant in Bandra committed suicide. The police wanted some information out of Khurana and he was shown what is being done to women and children. Fearing the worst Khurana went home shot his wife, children and then himself.
Voices, a book written by an accused brings forth these instances.The accused’ filed several affidavits saying that they are good citizens of the country and have been framed. The TADA judge ignored the affidavits—he refused to act against a single policeman involved in the most heinous torture in India’s history.
The case of Mr. Salim Khan Durrani highlights the issue further.
Mr. Salim Khan Durrani, a first class first student of Indore Degree College, an outstanding sports-person, a nationalist (his two brothers served the Indian army) was beaten up personally by IPS officer Mr. MN Singh on several occasions. He was implicated in a case laughable by any accounts. Any session court would have thrown away the case. He was however beaten in front on the whole jail while in judicial custody he was tied to the railings at night in front of India Gate so that cars could over-run him. He was taken to Jaipur and Tonk by the Mumbai Crime Branch team. Police personnel extorted money from his family then went back and told his mother that they will rape her daughter if she does not shell out more money.
Mr. Durrani was also given `fourth degree torture’ to extract voluntary confession. Mr. Durrani was subjected to a form of torture known only to Mossad, the secret Israel police. Strings were tied to his toe and pulled. This touched a nerve because of which his heart stopped for a few seconds. This form of sophisticated torture is Mossad-CIA trademark. It was used in Guatanamo prison base and the Abu Gharaib prison in Iraq.
The most shocking part is that an Israeli national tortured Salim Durrani. What was an Israeli national doing in a Mumbai crime branch torture cell? Was the Indian State power using Mossad agents illegally to torture Muslims?
Salim Durrani was willing to testify on this. But no one listened.
Thus it can be seen that the TADA judge was acting in a partisan manner throughout the case. He was violating the Indian constitution by not listening to affidavits, which involved the security and well being of the accused.
TADA was repealed in 1997 but not in retrospect. The most partisan instance occurred in 2005—on 28thJanuary 2005 a film called `Black Friday—True story of Mumbai Blasts’ was supposed to be have been released. Produced by Jhamu Sugandh in association with Sunday Mid-day, a Mumbai daily news magazine, this film is based on a book of the same name written by S. Hussein Zaidi and published by Penguin in 2002.
The accused’ felt that screening the film before the verdict would amount to violation of the right of an accused to get a fair trial. This is because the film showed accused’ as guilty, organizing blasts etc without changing names or locations. This was almost like pronouncing a verdict before the verdict, prejudicing the public against the accused’ and forcing extra-constitutional pressure on the judiciary.
Mr. Pramod Kode, the TADA judge did not pay heed to the demand of the accused’ to stay the film. Mr. Majeed Memon, the accused’ lawyer and the TADA judge reached an understanding that the makers can screen the film only if they remove the line `True story’.
Not satisfied with this and smelling a conspiracy involving even Mr. Majeed Memon, the accused’ moved the Mumbai high court. The hon. Court stayed the film’s release. After several hearings the Mumbai High Court passed an order on 31st march 2005 that the film actually does amount to the denial of a fair trial to the accused’ and should not be released till the final verdict is out.
Now comes the most astonishing part of all—the book on which the film is based begins with the acknowledgement section. On page xi, the author Mr. Zaidi writes: “My special thanks to judge of the specially designated TADA court, Pramod Kode, who reassured and encouraged me. His support paved the way for the completion of the book“.
All through the acknowledgement section the author says again and again that the book is based on the prosecution account. On page xiv of the author’s note he writes—”Much of the story is culled from the case presented by the prosecution in the trial as the prime sources of information are the charge sheet in the case filed by the police and the statement of the accused:”
Now if page xi and xiv are read in conjunction what does it reveal? That the judge endorsed the prosecution version of story, which naturally asked for the strictest punishment to the accused’ before even giving a verdict!
From the beginning the accused’ allege there has been a conspiracy to frame innocents in the Mumbai bomb blast cases. The evidence against the accused’, they say, is concocted and would not stand in the Supreme Court. According to them, `Black Friday’, both the book and the film, are parts of the conspiracy, which wants to create prejudices in the public against the accused’. This would create an atmosphere of vengeance against the accused’ which would then enable the Mr. Kode, the TADA judge, who was otherwise finding it difficult to convict the accused on the basis of flimsy evidence and several loop holes in the charge sheet, to actually convict the accused’!
Now the accused’ are thoroughly convinced that the TADA judge is part of a big conspiracy which involves top politicians, police personnel, filmmakers and journalists. The accused’ have no trust and faith left in the TADA judge who as the evidence regarding the book shows gave full encouragement to the author to write out the prosecution story as a true story.
Human right groups, Left parties such as the CPI-ML (Liberation) and secular forums like Tehrik-e-Hind and Sanatan Dharma Parishad are demanding the removal of the TADA judge. Mr. Akhilendra Pratap Singh, CPI-ML Polit Bureau member has asked for the TADA’s judge arrest for violating constitutional law. His demands include an impartial inquiry set up by the Supreme Court into the whole conspiracy behind the book, film and the role of various players.
The accused’ also state that the `Black Friday’ case is only a culmination of the conspiracy against them. The fact that normal procedures like providing security to the accused’ were not followed and affidavits highlighting police tortures were ignored points to the fact that a nexus of Police personnel, politicians and the TADA judge were prejudiced against the accused’ from the beginning. In fact the entire Mumbai blast case, the charge sheet itself is part of a conspiracy to not only condemn the innocents for a crime committed by othersbut also to subvert the rule of law and constitutional propriety in India.
Several cases of subversion of law can be cited—the prosecution case is based on the approver PW2.Evidence in Page 515 of the Worli charge sheet is shocking—there a police officer writes that the approver was arrested on 10.5.93. But the date on the document is 16th April 1993!
Amongst several other bomb blasts, the charge sheet mentions an attempt to bomb the Mumbai Sahar International Airport. The charge sheet states specifically that Mr. Jadhav, Chief of the Mumbai Police bomb squad visited Sahar International Airport on 12thMarch 1993. But Mr. Jadhav’s report, compiled a few days after the blast fails to mention any visit to the Sahar Airport!
Then in the pages of the confessions of the accused, especially those recorded by DCP Sanjay Pandey, the handwriting changes from normal to small! Even a cursory glance shows that the confessions were written beforehand and space was left so that the names of the accused could be squeezed in later!
In one confession letter signed by DCP Sanjay Pandey the accused actually says no when asked whether he wants to confess—but then the confession goes on detailing his role! 15 (a) of TADA is clear that the confessions have to be voluntary—how can an officer of law proceed further when the accused is saying `no I do not want to confess?’
It is clear that these confessions were fabricated—the police in fact knew of the bomb blasts. There are several records in the police stations, which show that some accused’ had warned Mahim police station in Mumbai that blasts were being planned and RDX consignments would be unloaded on the Konkan coast in district Raigad in February 93′. The Police in fact arrested three of the accused before 12th March 1993, the day of the blasts and they also confirmed the same.
Later when the blasts took place the Police clubbed 27 CRs registered under various police stations under one head! This is clearly a violation of constitutional law. The charge sheet mentions that several conspiracies were going on simultaneously. In fact the charge sheet mentions 4 to 5 conspiracies with proper chain of names as being operative. Then how come all these conspiracies were not treated as separate cases? Why were they clubbed as one? Is it possible that B is charged with the crime A has committed merely because B had intended to commit the same crime? This is something unheard of in the annals of law anywhere in the world. The whole world knows that there was more than one conspiracy to kill Mahatama Gandhi. Titled, `Hey Ram’ there is even a film duly approved by the Indian Censor Board, which shows other conspiracies. Now was it possible for the judiciary to hang others who had only intended to carry out the assassination independent of Nathu Ram Ghodse?
The answer is no—then why, as per the police charge sheet, different chains of different conspiracies have all been clubbed together?
Moreover, as stated earlier the CBI dropped the charge of waging war against the state. The accused’ have been charged with revenge for Babri demolition and Mumbai riots—now everyone knows that Babri Masjid demolition was a heinous crime against the nation. It led to killings of the minority community. As per the Srikrishna Commission report, during the Mumbai 1992-93 riots, which followed the demolition, the police turned communal and Shiv Sainiks; the Srikrishna Commission is on record as stating that the police were Shiv Sainiks first and part of a secular state by accident.
Now here the entire Mumbai police force is in contempt of the constitution—over 4,000 people were killed in the Mumbai riots, most of them Muslims.
However, none of the accused’ of the Babri demolition and Mumbai riots was charged with TADA. The charge sheet of the Mumbai blasts says that the blasts werethird in a chain of events the first two of which was Babri Masjid demolition and Mumbai riots. So how can TADA be slapped on the accused of the third chain of events when the accused of the first two events, which provided the motive for the third chain are being tried under ordinary IPC laws?
If A has killed B’s father and B takes revenge by killing a relative of A and the charge sheet mentions this as the motive then is it possible that A and B will be tried under separate sections only because A is a Hindu and B is a Muslim?
Is it possible that someone inviting only section 307 (attempt to murder) of the IPC invite section 302 (murder)? The Mumbai blast charge sheet does not establish that a giant chain was behind the 12th March 1993 incidents. The charge sheet shows that there were simultaneous, not a single conspiracy. The charge sheet does not establish that the simultaneous conspiracies were part of a single conspiracy. Then how can all accused be linked to a crime committed on 12th March 1993? It would have made sense had the police said that one chain committed the 12th March crime another chain was planning blasts on some other dates and so on and forth. Then the police would have had to establish each chain and their target. The accused’ of other chains would have had to be tried by law under other sections because their intended blast never took place.
The police extorted thousands of crores of rupees from hapless Muslims, openly connived with criminals to kill the accused. The Mumbai bomb blast is an amazing case of a huge extortion racquet where organs of Indian State power undermined the basis of the Indian State as part of a conscious design to install a coup where minorities are treated with a different yardstick than the majority. This is a clear violation of the constitution of India, which proclaims equal rights for all citizens of India irrespective of caste, religion and creed.
The main Mumbai blast accused is Tiger Memon. Now he lived within a radius of 100 feet from the Mahim police station. All through the night of 11-12th March 1993 activities were going on in his building. It is amazing that the police had no clue.
Then Tiger Memon was traced through a van, which was left at Worli by some of the accused’. This is as per the statement of the approver PW2. Now this approver is a police informer. There is evidence to prove this. What if the entire story told by the approver is false? What if the real story of the Mumbai Bomb Blasts is entirely different from the version put forth by the Mumbai police?
To reiterate the accused’ demand that—
1. Mr. Pramode Kode, the TADA judge should be removed with immediate effect and criminal proceedings initiated against him.
2. TADA should be withdrawn with immediate effect and the accused ought to be tried under a new charge sheet under IPC laws prepared by an able agency.
3. The Supreme Court should take up the hearing of torture cases outlined above and punish the guilty.
4. The whole anti-national nexus behind the framing of accused in the Mumbai blast case and using law to violate law, using powers given by the constitution of India to deny constitutional rights to Muslims, India’s biggest minority, should be exposed and brought before the law.
A plea is being made to the Supreme Court, which says, “India is a secular republic with a written constitution. It is the duty of the Supreme Court to uphold the constitution. We charge that citizens of India who have equal rights in the eye of law were treated as second-class citizens by constitutional agencies only because they belonged to the minority community. Mumbai Bomb Blasts case has destroyed lives of thousands of Muslims whose only fault was that they were Muslims. The Indian officials and politicians who committed atrocities on the Bomb Blast accused’ have acted against the Indian State. They have confirmed Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan who said that Muslims would always be treated as second-class citizens in India. We want to save India from fascist forces. Please hear our plea or give us in writing that India is not a secular but a theocratic state where Muslims will be treated as second-class citizens. We ask the Supreme Court to listen to our genuine grievance or dissolve itself as India is still a secular republic and passing an order that Muslims are second class citizens with no rights will be tantamount to overturning the constitution.”
All human rights activists, secular individuals and people for justice are asked to drop everything and propagate these events. Justice to Mumbai blast accused’ is an issue of keeping Jawahar Lal Nehru’s promise to Muslims intact, a life and death matter for upholding constitution of India. After the Mumbai blasts, Mumbai police implicated several innocent Muslims in the 1998 blasts, then again in the 2002 Ghatkopar blasts (famous because of the Khwaja Yunus incident) and again in 2003 Gateway of India blasts. The last mentioned in fact saw the approver PW2 of 93′ blast re-emerging as a prime accused in the capacity of Nasir, a name found in his passport. Now Nasir was PW2’s name also in the fake passport he was shown as carrying in 1993 also. This individual is a police informer—now the fact that the police or the Home Ministry (Lal Krishna Advani himself) was involved in the gateway of India blast gains credibility!
The Mumbai saga is the most organized attempt by fascist forces to practice religious discrimination, persecute a community while maintaining the façade of India being a secular, democratic republic. How long can this dualism go on? How could a state administration, which has institutionalized treatment of Muslims, as second class citizens can be allowed to continue under constitution which provides equality before law?