“If Aseemanand and I were not in Chanchalguda Jail at the same time then how did he know my name which he mentioned in his confession statement? How did he know that I was arrested earlier on suspicion of being involved in the Mecca Masjid blast case?” asked Shaik Abdul Kaleem, to whom Aseemanand allegedly confessed his involvement in the Mecca Masjid blast case. Kaleem was earlier arrested as a suspect in the case in 2007 and acquitted by court in 2008.
The prosecution had submitted Aseemanand’s confession before a magistrate in New Delhi and before Kaleem as the main evidence against him in the chargesheet, and the entire case hinged on these two points.
In the judgment delivered by the NIA court on April 16, Judge K Ravinder Reddy who acquitted all accused in the case, including Swami Aseemanand, observed the prosecution failed to prove that Kaleem and another youth, Maqbool Bin Ali, were in Chanchalguda Jail when Aseemanand was lodged there.
Kaleem, 29, wondered why the CBI and the prosecution lawyer did not seek jail records to prove that they were together. “Is it so difficult to prove that two persons sent to judicial custody to Chanchalguda Jail, where entries are made, records are maintained and prisoners are given numbers, were there at the same time or not? (Accused) Lokesh Sharma and Devender Gupta were already there and then Aseemanand came. Sharma and Gupta were taken elsewhere and only Aseemanand was there in the barracks. We were together for a few days and that is a fact. That is what I told the court. I told this in Ajmer court as well as the Panchakula court where the prosecution made me a witness,’’ Kaleem says.
Kaleem, who works at the office of AIMIM MLA Ahmed Bhalala in Malakpet, says he is relieved that the case is over. “I don’t want to discuss the verdict. I don’t want to get into trouble again. I got married three months back, in January, and I want to forget the ordeal,” he said.
In his verdict, the judge also dismissed Kaleem’s testimony as untrustworthy, observing that he was under police surveillance and was obliged to become a police witness.
Kaleem was arrested on June 3, 2007, by a Hyderabad Police SIT as a suspect in the Mecca Masjid blast case. He was accused of impersonation and using forged documents to obtain SIM cards, which were allegedly used by his brothers Shaik Abdul Amjad alias Khaja and Shaik Abdul Khader, and other persons accused of being associated with organisations like Harkat-ul-Jehad Islami Bangladesh, Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad.
The SIT had lodged a case at central crime station and four other youths were also held as Kaleem’s aides. He was lodged at Cherlapalli Jail. After several months of probe and narco analysis tests, police failed to establish they were involved in the blast and they were acquitted on July 23, 2008. On October 12, 2010, Kaleem was held for allegedly trying to pass off a mobile phone to his jailed brother and was sent to judicial custody in Chanchalguda Jail where he claimed to have met Aseemanand towards the end of November.