MUMBAI – Four policemen, who were allegedly involved in the custodial killing of 27-year-old Khwaja Yunus in January 2003, were reinstated on Friday and resumed duty on Saturday in the city’s police force.
According to The Indian Express, assistant police inspector Sachin Vaze and police constables Rajendra Tiwari, Sunil Desai, who continue to face charges of murder, destruction of evidence, resumed duty in the local arms unit. Constable Rajaram Nikam was reinstated in the motor vehicle department. The four were suspended in different months in 2004.
Khwaja Yunus, a resident of Prabhani and engineer by profession, was arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act on December 25, 2002, by Mumbai Police, which claimed his involvement in a bomb blast in Ghatkopar on December 2.
Yunus and three other co-accused were interrogated in Ghatkopar on January 6, 2003. His co-accused told the POTA court they saw him being stripped, assaulted severely, and he vomiting blood.
In January 2017, one of the men booked along with Yunus, deposed in the trial court hearing Yunus’s murder that four other policemen, different from the ones suspended, had tortured Yunus. So far, he is the only witness to have deposed in the case. The seven men booked for the blast apart from Yunus were subsequently acquitted of all charges.
“My son would have been acquitted too if he was alive. We trust the criminal justice system but the accused being reinstated feels like a betrayal. Instead of this, there should be efforts in expediting the trial to punish those who killed my son,” Asiya Begum, the 70-year old mother of Yunus, was quoted by Indian Express as saying.
The role of the four policemen reinstated on Friday is alleged to be that of destroying evidence in the case.
According to the notice announcing their reinstatement, a meeting was held on Friday under the chairmanship of the city Commissioner of Police as per rules constituted to review suspension orders periodically. The four are stated to be reinstated pending court order in the case and pending departmental/ preliminary inquiry against them.
The case has been stalled after the state government removed the prosecutor conducting the trial in 2018. Asiya Begum’s plea before the Bombay High Court against the removal is pending. Other pleas by the accused are also pending before the High Court.