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45 witnesses, all backtracked: How a Hubli case collapsed

Allah Baksh says ‘spent 7 yrs in hell, they stole my best years’.

Written by Muzamil Jaleel | New Delhi | Published: May 17, 2015 2:31 am
allah baksh yadwad, simi suspects, simi, simi arrests, simi convicts, simi allah baksh yadwad, simi news, india news, hubli news, hubli, simi hubli, simi convict, simi convict release, indian express “I spent seven years in hell. They stole the best years of life. I want to live now, I want my life back,” said Allah Baksh Yadwad.

He was 23, had just qualified to become a doctor, and was the pride of his doting parents. Then, at around 4 pm on February 6, 2008, a knock on the door changed everything.

“I spent seven years in hell. They stole the best years of life. I want to live now, I want my life back,” Allah Baksh Yadwad told The Sunday Express.

On April 30, Yadwad was acquitted by a Hubli court of all charges levelled by the Karnataka Police which claimed he was a member of a “SIMI module” and had participated “in conspiracy meetings aimed at… establishing (an) Islamic government in India”.

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But a copy of the judgment said it all: the prosecution, relying on Investigating Officer S S Khote, lined up 45 witnesses — including 24 medical students — to prove Yadwad’s guilt, but none of them supported the police version.

In the end, the judgment devoted 39 paragraphs to illustrate Yadwad’s innocence.

‘There was not a shred of evidence with police, they framed my son,” said Yadwad’s 57-year-old father Waliullah who had to undergo bypass surgery following a heart attack four months after the eldest of his six children was picked up that February afternoon.

As in the story of Bangalore-based software engineer Yahya Kammukutty, whose acquittal in the same case was reported by The Indian Express on Wednesday, Yadwad’s arrest was the result of a sequence of events that started with the confiscation of a motorcycle without papers from two youths in Honnali.

One of the two, Mohammad Asif, was a student at Karnataka Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS) in Hubli. At the time, Yadwad was half-way through his one-year house-surgeoncy, following his MBBS degree, at KIMS.

Police went on to link Yadwad to Asif, who they alleged had conducted mass prayers, violating rules, at the KIMS hostel.

Yadwad alleges that after he was picked up from his home in Hubli, he was threatened, slapped and made to sign on eight blank sheets of paper by police.

Police claimed Yadwad, Accused No. 6, rented a number of properties in Hubli “for conducting secret meetings of SIMI”. They alleged he had “participated in mass namaz with other 15 Muslim MBBS students” in KIMS where Asif would exhort them to “get ready for jihad”.

Police also claimed to have recovered “incriminating material” from Yadwad’s home and the KIMS hostel, and identified places that he had rented to hold meetings.

But the charges against Yadwad crumbled over the next seven years – he was not even a resident of the hostel at the time, and the owners, tenants and a broker linked to properties that Yadwad allegedly rented denied the police version.

One witness said police took him to a shop and a house in Hubli, did not tell him who they belonged to, and then made him sign on some papers.

Another said he was a “hawker in Hubli” and that police took him to a hospital, didn’t tell him why, then obtained his signatures on documents.

The list goes on: a farmer denied having spotted Yadwad attending meetings in a dargah nearby; a houseowner denied having rented his property to the “sixth accused”; a chicken shop owner denied having seen Yadwad in the building; another houseowner denied renting his property to Yadwad to hold “secret meetings”.

As for the “incriminating material” recovered, Yadwad’s father said policemen came to their home at Gouligalli asked whether “we had any books”.

“They saw only medical books in Allah Baksh’s cupboard. Then they asked where we kept our Quran. They took two books: Minhajul Arabia, a guide to basic Arabic, and a book called ‘Towards Understanding Islam’,’” he said.

Today, Yadwad says he wants to move on. “I don’t hold any grudges. I want to see it as a test of God, that is the only way I can move on. Otherwise, life will stop,” he said.

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  1. H
    hayatlives
    May 17, 2015 at 1:28 pm
    Why are the police officers "khote" which means "Liar" any way in Kannada / Marathi held accountable and fined and punished .Just declaring innocent and leaving them isnot the answer...exemplary punishment should be given...this is all too common in India especially with minorities
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    1. S
      Shaikh
      May 17, 2015 at 7:36 am
      why is it that such accused are of a prime age group only? The educational,social,economical,psychological loss to them is irreparable.
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      1. A
        Alex
        May 17, 2015 at 6:06 pm
        There is no such thing as a good snake. Its a snake.
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        1. Anil Tandale
          May 18, 2015 at 7:23 am
          What about the plight of Sadhvi Pragna Singh and Colonel Purohit, or for that matter Kashmiri Pandits? No crocodile tears from the media. They were neither secessionists nor were accused of sedition. Human rights industry does not get funds from abroad for Hindu mortals, hence no journalist wants to be commissioned for reportage on Hindus.
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          1. I
            Indian
            May 17, 2015 at 12:54 pm
            This is happening from so long why is court not punishing such police officers with stringent punishement like life terms etc, for spoiling innocents life. Such corrupt and immoral Police officers do such crime bcoz they know even if proven that case is fake , it would take years and by that time the person under investigation will not be able to fight back a case against them once freed, he would be rather avoiding to fight case against police, just to be at peace and away from all this. Why is court not questioning Police officers ? Just releasing innocent is not courts justice, but punishing police officer is also courts duty. A death penalty or life imprisonment is necessary for such police officers, to stop such crime against innocent youths.
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