Yet another acquittal of eight Muslim accused in the infamous Malegaon blast case is a slap on the face of all those trying to malign Indian Muslims implicating them in false, cooked up cases. Forcing a confession through torture, in the name of duty and service to the nation is as big a mockery of law, justice and the constitution as it can get
AAZEEN F KIRMANI | Caravan Daily
[dropcap]W[/dropcap]ith the acquittal of eight surviving accused in the 2006 Malegaon blast case, the list of victims of khaki terrorism has just got longer. The blasts in the Malegaon town, some 300 kilometers from Mumbai, targeting the local mosque and graveyard, killed 37 people, something for which a group of Hindu extremists had been investigated by the National Investigation Agency.
According to Noor-ul-Huda, one of the acquitted men, he had been tortured constantly until he ‘confessed’: “For 80 days I was subjected to third degree torture and then was forced to sign a false confession.”
Noor-ul-Huda is not the only one to have gone through this ordeal. There are many like him who have been through the same nightmare and who continue to be subjected to a systematic procedure of false accusations, arrests (at times abduction), third degree torture and forced confessions only to be declared innocent after losing long and precious years of their lives.
It often includes electric shocks, inhuman perches, beatings and solitary confinement.
To quote Justice Anand Narain Mulla of the Allahabad High Court, “there is not a single lawless group in the whole of the country whose record of crime comes anywhere near the record of that single organized unit which is known as the Indian Police Force”.
In his order Special Judge V V Patil who acquitted the Malegaon blasts accused said that the accused men had been made “scapegoats” by the ATS (Anti-Terrorism Squad).
Forcing a confession through torture, in the name of duty and service to the nation is as big a mockery of law, justice and the constitution as it can get.
In the words of Adriana P. Bartow of Amnesty International, “Torture is wound in the soul so painful that sometimes you can almost touch it, but it is also so intangible that there is no way to heal it. Torture is anguish squeezing in your chest, cold as ice and heavy as a stone, paralyzing as sleep and dark as the abyss. Torture is despair and fear and rage and hate. It is a desire to kill and destroy including yourself.”
Here is a first person account of Ehtesham Qutub of how he was tortured for 75 days by ATS (Qutub was acquitted in 2006).
The impact of torture is not limited to its direct subject. It takes in its clutches the people in close emotional periphery of the person on whom torture is inflicted. The parents, children, spouse and sibling are unrecognized victims of torture.
India became a signatory to the UN Convention against Torture in 1997. The Prevention of Torture Bill was passed in Lok Sabha in 2010 to provide punishment for torture inflicted by public servants or any person inflicting torture with the consent or acquiescence of any public servant, and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto (as passed in Lok Sabha)
In 2014, however, the bill lapsed as it fell short of what was required under the United Nations Convention Against Torture.
“It is unfortunate that there is no specific law to compensate acquitted people in our country, or a provision to punish the authorities responsible for the injustice” says lawyer and activist Prashant Bhushan.
Even the ever loud and boisterous India media, which is supposed to be the fourth pillar of democracy, and which leaves nothing under the sun unscrutinized remains curiously silent on this gross violation of human right.