Thursday, June 10, 2010

'Govt of Andhra Pradesh should openly say sorry'

Three years after the Mecca Masjid blast in Hyderabad, investigators stated that all evidence point to right-wing Hindu groups. However, this is no consolation for Imran Khan and 40 others who were arrested soon after the blast without proper evidence.

The 2007 blast had killed nine people and injured several others. However, the wounds of the 40-odd people incuding Khan, arrested after the blast, may never heal.

The blast changed Khan's life -- the Hyderabad police picked up the BTech student as the first suspect three days after the blast and released him after he was acquitted by local court after 17 months.

"Many innocent people were picked up along with me, but I was the first. I spent 17 months in jail before being acquitted."

Life has not been easy for Khan even after the acquittal. "I was acquitted, but at what cost? I still carry this terrorist tag. My father, who was a central government employee, had to face an inquiry and, worse, he was demoted because of this."

"I don't care whether it was a Hindu group of any other group which carried out this attack. My only concern is that the government of Andhra Pradesh should announce openly that they are sorry for what happened to me and the other innocents in the case," he said.

Khan feels life would continue to be difficult till the Andhra Pradesh government and Hyderabad police admitted their mistake, just as it had publicly declared him and others guilty three years ago.

"Even after I was acquitted, the Hyderabad police told me that I was still an accused for them."

Khan said the police forced him to undergo a narco-analysis test and also made him confess falsely before the media.

"They forced me to confess that I had made the bombs. They also force me to admit I was a conspirator in the case. I knew all along that the story was baseless, but I had no voice."

The Hyderabad resident said it was the Central Bureau of Investigation that saved him from the police' shoddy investigation.

"I was really assured when they (the CBI) told me that the case against me was baseless. They assured me that I would never face a problem again.After this, the police stopped troubling me," he recollected.

Khan is today pursuing his BTech again after it was cut short three years ago. However, restarting life after the trauma has not been easy.

"In my case, the state police acted like a licenced goons. They said what they wanted and never realised the pain and misery it caused to my family. I am still studying and want to take up a respectable job.

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