A YEAR ago, on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the 2006 Mumbai train blasts, Abdul Wahid Shaikh, who was acquitted in the case, became part of an all-India collective called Innocence Network. The collective, comprising individuals and organisations, works for the rights of those who have been “wrongly prosecuted or convicted”. While he walked out of prison after nine years, Shaikh has continued to fight for 12 of his former co-accused, including five who have been sentenced to death.
“I know they are as innocent as me and I will continue to speak for justice,” Shaikh has been saying since his release in 2015. On Monday, Shaikh launched a website called theinnocent.in, which has details of each of the 12 men convicted by a special court in 2015. The website, which claims to give the “untold story” of the Mumbai serial blasts, has details of the criminal trial including the deposition of 192 witnesses, letters to the victims of the blasts and their families by the accused, as well as those written to Members of Parliament and Legislative Assemblies.
After their conviction, the men had written to the victims claiming that the Anti-Terrorism Squad had failed to arrest the “real perpetrators” of the serial blasts and had made them “scapegoats”. Since the past year, Shaikh has been traveling across India speaking about the case, attempting to create awareness about what he claims is a “wrongful conviction”. He deposed in a first-of-its-kind “People’s Tribunal” held in Delhi in October last year, which saw participation by nine other men exonerated in terror cases in various states.
Shaikh also published a book titled Begunah Qaidi (Innocent Prisoner), which he wrote while in prison, describing torture and the systematic abuse of prisoners. On Monday, a Hindi translation of the book was unveiled by Shaikh. In attendance were advocates Yug Mohit Chaudhry, Sharif Shaikh and Wahab Khan — part of the defence team that represented the 13 accused — reporter and political analyst Ajit Sahi, Manisha Sethi, author and faculty of Jamia Milia Islamia and JNU scholar Umar Khalid.