‘Forced to confess crime I never committed’https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/forced-to-confess-crime-i-never-committed/

‘Forced to confess crime I never committed’

Ehtesham Siddiqui,an accused in the 7/11 train bomb blast case Thursday told Special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court that he was repeatedly tortured and forced into confessing a crime he never committed.

Ehtesham Siddiqui,an accused in the 7/11 train bomb blast case Thursday told Special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court that he was repeatedly tortured and forced into confessing a crime he never committed.

Siddiqui was deposing before the court as a defence witness. Testifying before Judge Yatin D Shinde,Siddiqui alleged he was first picked up by the Mira Road Police,where he was tortured and threatened before being taken to Kala Chowkie Police Station. While official records show Siddiqui was arrested on August 12,2006,he claimed police had detained him illegally for a few days prior to that.

“They also threatened to get women relatives from my native place to Mumbai and torture them if I did not obey their orders,” Siddiqui claimed in his testimony.

According to the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS),Siddiqui was the Mumbai secretary of the banned outfit SIMI and had allegedly harboured Pakistani terrorists in the city.

According to the ATS’s chargesheet,Siddiqui surveyed local trains to plan the 7/11 blasts; helped assemble bombs and attended conspiracy meetings. A bomb allegedly planted by Siddiqui in a Virar-bound train went off at Mira Road Station. Last week,a nodal officer from Bharti Airtel told the court that tower readings showed his mobile phone’s location was nowhere near Chuchgate railway station,where bombs were allegedly planted in Virar-bound trains. Records show Siddiqui’s mobile phone was at Mira Road,where he stayed in 2006. Seven bombs had exploded,killing 187 people and injuring over 700.

In his deposition,Siddiqui also referred to the slain Assistant Commissioner of Police (ATS) Vinod Bhat,who was found dead on the railway tracks between Dadar and Matunga stations days after Siddiqui’s arrest.

“Bhat met me and others and told us we were being arrested under pressure. He asked me to stay calm and assured us that we would be exonerated from all charges. That did not happen and Bhat was found dead near railway tracks,a few days after my arrest,” Siddiqui said.

At least four different statements were recorded by police,Siddiqui claimed. However,these statements have not been furnished before the court. “Narco tests were conducted on me twice,once in Mumbai and on another occasion in Bangalore. But these reports have not been made available before the court,” he added.

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Siddiqui’s defence lawyer Sharif Shaikh has sought these documents to be made available to the court. “While confessions given to the police cannot be used by police,the defence can use it if it supports their claim,” Shaikh said,citing an apex court’s order. Siddiqui will continue with his testimony Friday.