Compensation to Muslim youth wrongly held after Hyderabad blasts

November 14th, 2008 - 9:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Hyderabad, Nov 14 (IANS) With an eye on crucial minority votes in the ensuing elections, the Congress government in Andhra Pradesh has decided to compensate 21 Muslim youths who were wrongly detained and tortured after the serial bomb blasts here last year.The government said it would pay Rs.30,000 to cover part of the cost of buying an auto-rickshaws to each of the 21 youths wrongly held in connection with the bombings at Mecca Masjid, Lumbini Park and Gokul Chat.

State Minorities Welfare Minister Mohammad Ali Shabbir told reporters here Friday that compensation would be paid to all those who were arrested on the suspicion of being linked to the blasts, but were proved innocent.

Though the state minority commission submitted its report on the torture of innocent youths to the government in October last year, only now has the government decided to act on its recommendations.

Nine people were killed in a blast during Friday prayers at the historic Mecca Masjid on May 18 last year. Twin blasts at Lumbini Park and Gokul Chat, a popular eatery, claimed 43 lives on Aug 25.

Police had detained 70 Muslims on suspicion after the blasts. Majority of them were released after a few weeks, while about 25 were booked on charges like criminal conspiracy and waging war against the state.

The move to compensate them comes close on the heels of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, the oldest and biggest Muslim organisation, holding a massive public meeting here Sunday. Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, one of the speakers at the meet, had promised to help rehabilitate those found innocent.

Seven of those held after the blasts have been acquitted by the courts. A city court on Nov 4 acquitted four youths arrested after the Mecca Masjid blast.

Those acquitted included Shoaib Jagirdar, a native of Jalna in Maharashtra, his relative and engineering student Imran Khan, Mohammed Adul Kaleem and Abdul Majeed.

Abdul Majeed is the younger brother of Mohammed Abdul Shahid alias Bilal, an alleged member of the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant outfit. The police claimed that Bilal, who was believed to be hiding in Bangladesh, was the mastermind of all terror attacks in south India during the last two years.

However, Mohammed Rayeesuddin, one of those acquitted, has refused to accept the government’s compensation.

“If the government is sincere in paying the compensation, let them withdraw the false cases booked against me,” he said.

The 25-year-old, who alleged torture during detention, has opened an electrical goods shop with Rs.40,000 assistance provided by the Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee (APCLMC). He ran from pillar to post for a job after his acquittal but could not get one due to the cases against him.

APCLMC, which is fighting a legal battle for those arrested, has raised funds from concerned citizens and plans to help rehabilitate the innocent youths.

A fact-finding team of the state minorities commission, in its report last year, had said that the detainees were made to strip, were physically abused and given electric shocks on their private parts.

The panel had visited Cherlapally jail on the city outskirts and met some of the arrested youths lodged there.

“Most detainees carry some tell-tale signs of bodily abuse obviously not self inflicted,” said the panel’s report.

The forensic expert, who examined the detainees, found that they were physically and mentally harassed.

“That there are noticeable 1 mm to 2 mm scars noted around the nipples is indicative of electricity or needle entry,” the report said.

Though the police picked up dozens of youths in connection with the blasts, not a single person directly involved in the blasts could be arrested.

The Mecca Masjid blast case is yet to be solved while police claimed to have made some progress in the twin blats. Two activists of the Indian Mujahideen arrested by Mumbai Police recently confessed to have planted bombs at the park and the eatery.

However, the police here are yet to get the custody of the two men and question them.

Muslims constitute about 10 percent of the state’s 77 million population. Majority of the Muslim voters had backed Congress party in 2004 elections.

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