Mumbai Police Charade

Mumbai Police Charade

By Ghulam Muhammed

The Milli Gazette Online

Mumbai: It is Déjà vu for Mumbai Police – same routine incidents of bomb blasts, same SIMI list of usual suspects and same foreign hand of Pakistan. 7/11 train bomb blasts are no different. Less than 3 months and Mumbai’s Police Commissioner could hold a Press Conference, giving out a story worth comparing with any Saleem-Javed film script. However, to their despair the scenario is fast unraveling.

In a front page story in Mumbai’s widely circulated URDU TIMES, Raees Ahmed, its correspondent, starts with blazing headlines: Nobody from outside visited our house and no bomb was prepared. Police is lying. So say home people, mostly ladies of the accused Mohammad Ali household. A photo of the group of 5 women and girls, a boy and a brother of Mohammad Ali are shown as part of the interview. The following is rough and rush English translation of the Urdu news story:

Mumbai, Oct. 1,(Raees Ahmed): Police has claimed to have solved the mystery of 7/11 bombings. But there is widespread resentment among the people of the locality, over the accusations on Govandi, Shivaji Nagar’s resident Mohammed Ali Shaikh. Mohammad Ali was 5-time prayer and no strangers ever visited his house. Mohammad Ali’s family has alleged that Crime Branch and Anti-terrorist Squad have always given them false assurances asking them for patience and promising that Mohammad Ali will be released after some enquiries. However, home people were shocked when he was brought in as prime accused and they searched each and every corner of the house. According to information, Mohammad Ali Shaikh is born in Bombay, and he studied in Shivaji Nagar Municipal School. Shaikh passed his 12th standard exams in Hindi medium. They are staying in Shivaji Nagar, House No. 33-T-2 since last 28 years. In 1982-83 he joined service with Aasooda Cooperative Bank. But following bank’s failure in 1999, his economic conditions deteriorated. He traveled to Dubai for a job, but returned back within a month without getting any suitable employment. Later he worked for sometime in a mutton shop in Plot no. 25. After that he started the business of ‘magical pearls’ used to ease teething troubles of babies, when worn around the neck. He used to get the product from Hyderabad and supplied to Mumbai’s medical stores. That took care of his home expenses. According to sources, in 1999 he contacted SIMI (Students Islamic Movement of India) and was member of that organization till it was banned. As a member, he taught teachings of Islam in the neighbourhood and was instrumental in closing down of some illegal activities in Govandi, Shivaji Nagar. He was called (by the police) in connection with Mulund bomb blast. He was released (without any charge) after two days. In the similar fashion, he was called (for enquiries) after Ghatkoper and Gate of India bomb blasts, but every time, he was released after one or two days after police has completed its investigations. After the 7/11 train blast, he was taken with 4 others for investigations, to Shivaji Nagar Police Thana, where ATS, FPI and crime branch people questioned him and later released him. The news was published in Urdu Times. Later, people from Ghatkoper Unit (7) took him away for investigation and released him after one day. After that ATS team of Vijay Salaskar from Kurla took him away for investigation and detained him for one month five days. Mohammad Ali Shaikh’s younger brother Mukhtar Shaikh informed URDU TIMES correspondent that whenever we used to visit his brother, police used to tell them, they will release him after a day or two. He said this way, they prolonged his detention to one month and five days. When he suggested he will hire a lawyer, he was warned not to hire a lawyer or they (the Police) will involve him in any (fake) case. Mukhtar further mentioned that “his brother Mohammad Ali too advised him not to hire a lawyer, as they will release him. After that they released Mohammad Ali. But barely 6 days had passed when Nagpada ATS’s Sailesh Gaikwar team picked him up. At first, we never knew from where these police people had come. Only when we enquired with Kurla ATS, they informed us that Mohammad Ali was taken away by Nagpada ATS. When I and Mohammad Ali’s wife Saeedunnisa went to Nagpada, the police allowed us to see my brother. There too, Mohammad Ali told me, they will release after two days. Later, on September 30, we enquired with Nagpada police, they informed us that your brother has been arrested and is in Kala Chowki. When I phoned Salesh Gaikawar (ATS), he told me that he is in an important meeting and advised me to go home as he cannot tell anything at the moment.

Mukhtar said, I was fasting and when we and my sister in law reached home, we found about 20 to 25 policemen in the house with Mohammad Ali draped in a black sheet over his head. We were prevented from entering the home, but when I told them that I am the brother of Mohammad Ali, they let me enter the house. Mukhtar told the correspondent that Mohammad Ali was crying loudly and he was even allowed to speak. Still he was able to tell me that he has been framed and you should immediately hire a lawyer. Mukhtar said: police checked each and every thing in the house. They took one cooker from the house, which was in use for the last seven years. They further scrapped and took samples of wall plaster. When Mukhtar told the police that he is hiring a lawyer, he was brusquely answered by the police: So you people have lots of money. There is no need for a lawyer. Mukhtar Shaikh told the correspondent that they are staying in a 10’x15′ room. They are 3 families staying in that room. Mohammad Ali has 4 children. Rizwana (16), Suhail (12), Ammara (10), Ziad (2 1/2). We are all 22 people living in one house. It is our poverty and helplessness that we are forced to live in one room.

Mohammad Ali’s sister-in-law Rashida mentioned that it was the police who asked her permission to take the cooker away. People from the neighbourhood all vouched for the clean character of Mohammad Ali and could say that he can never be connected with any bomb blast. The whole neighbourhood is prepared to give witness to Mohammad Ali’s good character. They have resolved to submit a memorandum to Home Minister R. R. Patel and MLA Yusuf Abrahini. Mukhtar Shaikh reiterated that his brother is innocent and he is being framed by the police. He said, as Anti-Terrorist Squad could not get the real culprits, they have framed my innocent brother. The pattern, alas, is all too familiar.

Anybody with minimum intelligence can make out, how a person, who is under constant police surveillance for months at end, would have dared to indulged in such a elaborate act of preparing and planting a bomb in a train. This while he is staying with a family of 22 members in a small room in a crowded community of Shivaji Nagar, where people are staying cheek by jowl and nothing but nothing escapes neighbours attention. If he Mohammad Ali Shaikh had been involved in any criminal or terrorist activity, his own neighbours would have informed the police. And police do have their own informers in all localities. Prima facie, Mumbai police has resorted to the old tricks of hauling people just to make up a successful enquiry and get their necks off from public scrutiny. The danger is that the real culprits are roaming the city scot-free and would be able to repeat their crime with impunity. One can only marvel at the chutzpah of the Hindu terrorists, Maruti Wagh and Sanjay Chowdhry from Nanded, who were injured while preparing of a bomb, which killed 3 and injured another three. Sanjay admitted that he placed the bomb at a Parbhani Masjid and Wagh admitted to a bombing in Jalna. When Wagh was arrested and presented in court, a panel of 40 Hindu lawyers presented themselves to take up his brief. While Bal Thackeray’s nephew Raj Thackeray had openly warned any lawyer to take up the case of any Muslim accused in 7/11 bomb blast. What a travesty of justice — 40 lawyers for a self-proclaimed bomber and no lawyer coming foreward for Muslim innocents, falsely accused.

The city of Mumbai is tense. The Muslim community, busy with Ramadan fasting and taraveeh prayers in the nights, is at edge over police atrocities and blatant discrimination against Muslims. A newly formed organization has plastered Muslim areas with posters appealing Muslims to boycott all Iftar parties organized by politicians and the police. This in the backdrop of daily sentencing of the accused in 1993 Bombay blasts — practically all Muslims. A storm is brewing over Congress party’s open anti-Muslim prejudice in not punishing criminals that orchestrated Bombay riots that took the toll of thousands of Muslims. The demand for activating the Srikrishna Commission recommendation to bring riot culprits to book is fast gathering momentum. This partisan show of Indian justice cannot be tolerated by Indian Muslims for long. Some thing is got to give.

The author may be contacted at ghulam_muhammed2@yahoo.co.in

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