Special Reports

They forced me to take seven narco tests and one brain mapping test

Here is the self-testimony of a victim who was subjected to the maximum number of illegal narco tests, for which his statutory consent was not obtained, which were carried long after the chargesheet was already filed and in the name of another incident for which questions were not asked...The notorious Dr Malini offered full support in this illegal activity. MG asks: when will Dr Malini and the criminal police officers who flouted law and ran roughshod over the legal and human rights of the detainees be punished?
By Asif Khan Bashir Khan
An accused in Mumbai (7/11), Malegaon blasts cases and Jalgaon conspiracy case

I, Asif Khan Bashir Khan, age 35 years, am a diploma-holder in civil engineering and was last employed as a civil billing engineer with Lokhandwala Construction, Mumbai. I was arrested on 03/10/06 by Police of Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) Mumbai and falsely implicated in the Mumbai Train Blast case of 11/07/06 (MCOC case no. 21/06). I was in police custody in this case from 03/10/06 to 01/11/06 during which period I was taken twice to Bangalore for two narco analysis tests on 20/10/06 and 28/10/06, first of which was conducted at Bowring Hospital, Shivaji Nagar, and the second at Sanjay Gandhi Hospital, Bangalore.

After 12 days in jail/judicial custody, I was taken from Arther Road Jail, Mumbai, by ATS Mumbai and was falsely implicated in the Malegaon blast case of 8 September 2006 (MCOC case No. 23/06).

I was in police custody from 13/11/06 to 06/12/06 during which period I was again taken to Bangalore for a narco-analysis test on 04/12/06, conducted at Bowering Hospital.

After 24 days in jail/judicial custody, I was taken from Arther Road Jail, Mumbai, by the Local Crime Branch (LCB) Jalgaon (M.S.) and falsely implicated in a case of conspiracy to attack Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (R.S.S.) headquarters in Nagpur dating back to July 2001 (case No. 173/06). I was in police custody from 30/12/06 to 12/01/07 during which period no narco-analysis was conducted.

However, after a period of 73 days while I was in jail/judicial custody, I was handed over as per court order from Arther Road jail to the police of LCB, Jalgaon on 26/03/07 solely for the purpose of conducting narco analysis and other tests in relation to the above mentioned case. The order was not for further police custody since the maximum period of 14 days police custody had already been taken in the said case. The order was for conducting narco analysis and other tests while in judicial custody. The charge-sheet in the said case had been filed on 23/03/07 and the statutory period of 90 days for completion of investigation too had ended on 29/03/07. Yet I was taken [out] and lodged in the police lock-up of Central Crime Branch (CCB) Bangalore and was taken from there for [the following] tests which were conducted on me:
1) Narco analysis at Spandana, a private hospital, Bangalore on 29/03/07;
2) Brain mapping at Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) Madiwada, Bangalore on 30/03/07;
3) Narco analysis at Spandana private hospital, Bangalore, on 31/03/07;
4) Narco analysis at Bowring Hospital, Bangalore, on 03/04/07;
5) Narco analysis test at Bowring Hospital, Bangalore, on 05/04/07.

During the above period though I was supposed to be in the custody of LCB, Jalgaon police, DCP of ATS Mumbai, Nawal Bajaj, was present and directing proceedings. After the above tests, I was brought back to Arther Road jail on 08/04/07. I was out of jail for a period of 14 days.

All the above tests were conducted by Dr. Malini, assisted by Dr. Pravin of FSL, Bangalore. During narco analysis tests, operation theatre staff including anaesthetist would be present. Video recording was done.

Legal Points:
1) Consent: Constitutional provisions give citizens the right to refuse to give evidence against self. Further, any medical procedure requiring anaesthesia rendering a person unconscious requires the consent of the patient or his near relatives. No consent was taken from me by the doctors involved in the initial three tests conducted by ATS. Rather, no attempt to take consent was even made. The LCB Jalgaon took my signature on a sheet of paper saying medical examination for investigation was needed. No mention at all was made regarding a narco-analysis, brain mapping or any such test.

2) Narco tests after the charge-sheet:
As per the Supreme Court decision, narco analysis, brain mapping and other such tests have no evidence value. In view of the police and investigating agencies, such tests are supposed to aid the investigations.

The last four narco and brain mapping tests were done to me after the investigation was completed and the Final Report (chargesheet) had been filed. So how could these tests aid investigations?

3) Questions unrelated to the case:
Though my custody was taken by LCB Jalgaon, in the last four narcos and brain mapping tests not a single question related to Jalgaon case was asked. Rather, the questions were mostly related to Mummbai blasts. Directions regarding this were given directly by DCP Nawal Bajaj of ATS who was present in Bangalore at the time of the tests.

4) Lodged in Police lockup while in jail/judicial custody
During the last four narco tests, I was supposed to be in jail/judicial custody and therefore, should have been lodged in a jail in Bangalore. However, I was illegally kept in CCB, Bangalore lockup so that the police would have full control over me during that time. (There have even been examples of narco-analysis test being conducted while a person is under illegal detention without being produced in a court.)

5) Two narco analysis tests conducted in a private hospital
Contrary to the procedure, two narco tests were conducted on me in Spandana Hospital in Bangalore which is a private hospital. The purpose of conducting two tests each in two different hospitals was probably to hide from government hospital doctors the fact that four narco tests were being consecutively conducted in the short space of one week which would definitely have serious and dangerous consequences on my health. (There have been even more dangerous examples of the police themselves giving me narco injections during interrogation without the presence of an anaesthetist or any doctor).

Physical (medical) experiences during a narco test:
All solid and liquid foods would be stopped 12 hours before the scheduled narco test. This means that even water was removed from the cell from the night before the test. Often the narco test scheduled for morning would get delayed upto 14.00 or 16.00 hours which would mean that I was kept thirsty and starving for upto twenty hours before the start of the test.
The test period itself would be for about half an hour from the first injection. During this period, I would be constantly given slaps and pinches with metal tweezers/pliers so as to keep me conscious as well as to overawe and threaten me and to cause pain to me. Sometimes Dr. Malini would start slapping me even before administering the drugs, so as to put me in a submissive mood before the questioning started.

The pinches were so severe that they would invariably result in the earlobes getting red, swollen and bleeding. Scars caused by the metal tweezers/pliers were also all over my stomach, arms and legs, particularly on my thighs.

No portion of the body was safe from Dr. Malini’s attention as I would be completely naked under the hospital robes. These scars lasted for several months.

The half-hour semi-conscious state was followed by around six hours in complete unconscious state. While recovering consciousness, there would be severe nausea and sometimes vomiting. Nausea would last for around two to three hours. During this period, again, food was not permitted and only small quantities of water were allowed. Thus one narco test would mean over 24 hours without water and upto 36 hours without food. When four narco tests were conducted on me in the space of a week, it meant that I was thirsty and starving continuously over a period of eight days.

These tests had several ill-effects on my body and health which continued for months during which my full face and head would be severely swollen causing me considerable pain.

The torture administered to me by Dr. Malini and Dr. Pravin caused scars on my hands, legs and stomach which continued for several months. For many days after each test I had continuous severe headaches, repeated dizzy spells. I even had difficulty in my vision during this time. During the period in Bangalore, I also suffered from continuous diarrhoea and vomiting.

On return from Bangalore, I made a complaint regarding all this when I was produced in the MCOC court at Mumbai. However, MCOC Judge Mridula Bhatkar refused to entertain my complaint saying that the order of narco test was given by the Jalgaon magistrate.

Since I had not been produced before any Jalgaon court since 12 January 2007, I immediately sent a written complaint to the chief judicial magistrate Jalgaon through the Arther Road Jail authorities. The CJM called for the version of LCB Jalgaon and merely marked the reply of LCB Jalgaon as “seen”. No further orders of any sort were passed either for my medical examination or of any action against the concerned authorities.

Though over a year has passed, the matter still remains pending. When I was produced before CJM Jalgaon on 5 December 2007, I asked for information regarding the order passed on my application but was told by the CJM that information would be directly sent to me at Arther Road Jail. Meanwhile, the case has been committed to Sessions Court at Jalgaon. On an RTI application requesting information about action taken, I received a reply from the Registrar and information officer at the Sessions Court Jalgaon on 7 December 2007 that order passed was “seen” and production warrants were sent to Arther Road Jail for my production in court. I have yet to be sent to that court though six months have elapsed since then.

Actions of malafide and criminal nature by Police and FSL Bangalore authorities
 1) All tests conducted at FSL Bangalore
Though I was lodged in Mumbai and facilities for these tests are available nearby at FSL Mumbai, FSL Ahmedabad and FSL Hyderabad, I was deliberately taken far away to Bangalore thrice by air and once by train. The purpose of bearing such additional expenditure of time and money is due to the close nexus between the Police (particularly ATS Mumbai) and Dr. Malini for manipulating and falsifying the test results to suit the requirements of the Police. Dr. Malini’s reputation for manipulation is wide. During my stay in Bangalore, an accused was brought all the way by train from Jammu despite closer facilities at Delhi, Chandigarh and Ahmedabad.

2) Tests under Jalgaon court orders were done by DCP Naval Bajaj of ATS Mumbai
The LCB Jalgaon made repeated applications before CJM Jalgaon requesting my custody for narco and other tests and in each application the reason given was “so as to complete the investigation and file the chargesheet.” Thus, it is obvious that once the chargesheet was filed on 23 March 2007, there was no bonafide reason for conducting more tests. Yet, CJM Jalgaon issued a letter to the jail authorities on the very next day, 24 March 2007, ordering my custody for narco and other tests.

The malafide intention of the police became all the more clear after we reached Bangalore. The investigation officer of LCB, Jalgaon, Inspector Y.D. Patil left Bangalore and returned to Jalgaon after two days and was not present in Bangalore during all the tests. DCP Naval Bajaj of ATS Mumbai was present in Bangalore throughout and all directions for the tests were given by him and all questions were related to the Mumbai blasts.

Dr. Malini collaborated completely in this. Though court orders were clearly with relation to the Jalgaon case and DCP Bajaj had no locus standi in this case, Dr. Malini coordinated with him and took directions from him. She also asked all the questions which had no relation at all with the Jalgaon case of 2001.

Thus the Jalgaon case and Jalgaon court orders were merely used by the ATS Mumbai and Dr. Malini for torturing me and manipulating and creating material related to Mumbai blast case.

3) Manipulation and falsification of videos
Dr. Malini was in league with ATS and other police authorities to obtain video materials that can be edited and cut and pasted in such a way as to suit the requirements of the interrogators.

Since all the blast-accused are in no way involved in the blasts there is no way in which information can be obtained through narco analysis tests. The purpose of the narco was merely to create information that suits the story cooked up by the police. Thus, for example, if the Police have made up a story that a conspiracy was hatched in a meeting held on 2 June, Dr. Malini would ask an innocent sounding question like “Ek June kay baad kya aata hai?” and she would get the answer “Do [2] June”. Later, the video would be edited and the question would be changed to ask on which date the conspiracy meeting took place. Similarly, questions like “who stays in your cell in jail” or “who stays in the next cell?” would be asked and if names of other accused were given, the question in the video would be changed to ask “who gave the RDX?” or “who attended the meeting?” When I refused to fall into her trap and kept silent, Dr. Malini even threatened to inject me with poison so as to scare me and force me to say what she wanted, to repeat after her the words she uttered.

The video files thus created and falsified were then used by ATS to further torture the accused. Where the video files had been manipulated to show some accused being connected in line with the Police story, the files were played on computer to that and other accused. They were told that during narco-analysis, they had incriminated themselves or had been incriminated by others. Then they were further tortured and forced to sign confessions. Lower level police officers doing the torture, who would probably not know about Dr. Malini’s manipulations, would be convinced by the narco-analysis evidence and be motivated to inflict the most horrible torture on their victims. The accused, though convinced of their own innocence, would be forced to give in under pressure.

Some accused were then even forced to “confess” on video. These videos were released to the media and were shown widely on TV channels during the time of the Mumbai blast’s first anniversary. This was shown by media as “evidence” during the trial, thus further strengthening the false case made by the police.

When there were protests, Maharashtra Home Minister R. R. Patil announced that he had ordered an inquiry into the leak. However, there has been no report of the results of such an inquiry. An RTI application has been made by the accused asking for information regarding the inquiry. Many months have passed but each department is passing the buck without giving a definite reply.

Why narco analysis and other tests?
As can be seen from the above, the purpose of conducting narco analysis and other tests is not to find the truth or do any serious investigation. In fact, the purpose is basically the same as other forms of torture - it is to force a person to say things that will match the story cooked up by the Police. It does not matter whether the story is true or not. The approach of Dr. Malini and Police teams was based on the assumption that the accused is guilty and the results of the tests should be doctored so as to support the case already cooked up by the Police. Since the “science” of narco-analysis, brain mapping and polygraphy is yet very much undeveloped and imperfect, it is easy to do such falsification in the results.

Particularly in high-profile cases, there is heavy pressure from politicians and the media on the Police team “to show results”. In such a situation, when there is no headway in investigation, unscrupulous Police officers take the easy way out of arresting persons whom they know to be innocent and then create a false case. Tortures and forced confessions, bribes and threats are used to create so-called “approvers” which, in return, are used to support this false case and such cooked up information is then selectively leaked to the media to suit the interests of politicians and Police. In recent years, the leaking of manipulated CDs to the media has become an instrument of choice in this trial by media and to create a public impression that the Police have “solved” the case.  

The media and unscrupulous doctors, like Dr. Malini, become collaborators in this process of trying and sentencing the accused even before the court proceedings had started.

I was particularly targetted and forced to undergo seven narco tests because despite severe torture, I refused to give a false confession as required by the Police in the Mumbai blasts case. Narco-analysis was then used as another form of torture. And because Dr. Malini and the ATS Police did not obtain the results they wanted in the first phase of the narco tests, they continued doing these  tests to the maximum extent possible.

Place: Mumbai
Date: 17 June 2008
Asif Khan Bashir Khan
U. T. No. 1180/07, 2/2 Anda Barrack, Arther Road Jail, Byculla, Mumbai  400011

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 May 2013 on page no. 8

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