Soon after the blast at Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad on May 18, 2007, Hyderabad Police picked up 58 Muslim youths in different raids and allegedly detained them illegally for several days on suspicion that they had allegiance to jihadi elements, who were initially held responsible for the explosion.
Of them, 18 people complained they received third-degree torture in custody.
The then undivided AP State Minorities Commission appointed advocate L Ravi Chander to probe these allegations. In his report, Ravi Chander stated there was enough evidence that some of them were tortured. After six months in jail, and attending the court for nearly 18 months, all 58 were acquitted. Eleven years on, four of them look back:
Ibrahim Junaid was 25 in 2007, when he was arrested for allegedly being in possession of jihadi literature and holding secret meetings to instigate youths to wage war against the country. He was in final year of studying Unani Medicine at the time. He said, “I spent six months in jail and it took another 18 months before the court acquitted. I completed my Unani course after that. I have set up a clinic at Baba Nagar…I heard the verdict today. Although the painful memories remain, I have moved on.”
Mohammed Raisuddin was 26, working as a salesman at a jewellery shop. He was in jail for five months and lost his job. He was the first to be rehabilitated by an NGO, Nisa, with a loan of Rs 40,000. The money helped him start a small electrical appliances service shop at Old Malakpet in Hyderabad. He later moved the shop to Bandlaguda. “I was ostracized by family and relatives and faced many difficulties… I have put all that behind in trying to lead a normal life,” he said. He did not want to discuss today’s verdict.
Shaik Abdul Kaleem was 19 and working as a lab technician. He claimed that Aseemanand allegedly confessed his role in planning the Mecca Masjid blasts while they were in Chanchalguda Jail in Hyderabad. He completed his LLB in 2013, but was declined a job at various law firms. He now works in the office of Malakpet MLA Ahmed Bhalala of AIMIM.
Abdul Kareem was 24 and worked as an autorickshaw driver. “Even after acquittal I was boycotted by family and relatives for years. Six years ago I finally got a job as salesman in a company. I got married and moved to Kalapather and started life afresh. I still get nightmares at times…” He was “distressed” with today’s verdict.