My 75 days of horror in the hands of Anti-Terror Squad
Here is the story of Ehtesham Qutub in his own words how he was detained and tortured for two and half months by the Mumbai Anti-Terrorism Squad during the 7/11 blast investigations. He is resident of 202, Safiya Manzil, Naya Nagar, Mira Road (E), Distt. Thane, Maharashtra - 401107. He is currently lodged in a Mumbai jail where his address is: UT-1129/10, 2/4 (Anda Cell), Mumbai Central Prison, Arthur Road, Mumbai. According to an estimate around one thousand such Muslim youths are currently lodged in Indian jails on mere suspicion, concocted evidence mainly confessions extratcted through inhuman torture.
My name is Ehtesham Qutubudin Siddiqui, age: 29 years, occupation: Book Publisher. I was born in Uttar Pradesh in a poor family. In the year 1996, I moved to Mumbai for further education. My residential address in Mumbai is 202, Safiya Manzil, Naya Nagar, Mira Road (East), Thane – 401107 Maharashtra. I completed my XII standard through Maharashtra College, Belasis Road, Mumbai Central. I took admission in Narayan Nagu Patil Engineering College, in Pen. Raigad through Mumbai University in Chemical Engineering course in 1998. I used to stay in a hostel near the campus. However, during my vacation and holidays, I used to visit Mira Road which is my residential permanent address.
On 27 September, 2001 while I was travelling from Pen to visit my house, on the way, I thought of visiting a library situated at Feetwala Compound, Kurla (West) Mumbai, for reading some books. That evening around 8:00 pm, some policemen came in the library and took me along with seven other people to Kurla Police Station. They did not tell me the reason for detention, and arrested me under section 10&13 of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967. They informed me that Students Islamic Movement of India has been declared as a banned organisation. They informed me about the offence only after the arrest i.e. when they produced me before Magistrate of Kurla Court. The truth is that I was never associated with any organisation which is mentioned above. The Hon’ble magistrate of Kurla court had released me on bail of Rs. 3000. However the Kurla police, instead of releasing me took me to the police station and put me inside the lock up and said that I have been arrested in another case of the same offence. Kurla police has framed me in false cases which I had nothing to do with, and they have spoilt my reputation in society. In regard to second false case, the police took 15-day custody. After 15 days, I was granted bail of Rs. 8000 security. As it was a conditional bail. I could not continue my studies which resulted in the end of engineering course. After that, I learned Desktop Publishing on my Personal Computer and started a DTP business from my house in Mira Road known as "Graphic Point". In March 2004, I started a publishing company known as "Shahadah Publishing House" publishing Islamic literature and books on general knowledge. In July 2003, I had taken admission in B Sc to complete my graduation through Indira Gandhi National Open University. But due to my arrest and false implication in 11th July 2006, Mumbai serial train blast case my whole career has gone for a toss.
Due to old record in Kurla police station, it had become a regular routine of detaining me. Every time or whenever any incident took place in Mumbai, I was called by police for a formal interrogation. Besides those two false cases registered by Kurla police,. I do not have any other criminal record as I was living a normal life in Mumbai.
On 11 July, 2006, serial bomb blasts took place on Western Railway during peak hours, that time I was at home. When I learned about the blast at Mira Road, I went to the blast site to help the victims. I knew very well that police will come to me for formal enquiry like the regular police routine, that had been a trend since 2001. Hence senior police Inspector namely Murade of Mira Road police station came to my house on 13 July, 2006 in evening time and asked me to come to the police station on the next day. On 14 July, 2006 at 11:00 am, I went to Mira Road police station to meet Sr. PI Murade. He questioned me about my whereabouts and asked me for my phone number, which I gave him (28115084) and left the police station. He also told me that if required for further investigation I will be called.
Torture position 1: Hitting the victim by flour mill belt on the inner part of hand, buttock and feet about 200 times per spell leaving part of hand and feet in blue colour with strong pain during torture. Other body parts too were hit by this belt any part of body
On 24 July, 2006, in the morning around 11:00 am, police sub-Inspector Sunil Mane of Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) unit-II, visited my house and asked me to come at Nagpada ATS office, the same day before 3:00 pm. That day I went to Nagpada ATS office at around 2:00 pm. I met PSI Sunil Mane and he told me that senior officials will interrogate me so they will take me to Bhoiwada ATS office. Upon reaching Bhoiwada ATS office, PSI Sunil Mane took me to the second floor in lock up, where he called PI Vilas Joshi, PI Dinesh Ahir, PSI Shailesh Gaekwad and other beating me with belts and sticks and continued beating me till evening. Later they took me from Bhoiwada to Nagpada handcuffed. They did not allow me to inform my parents or any of my relatives. When I was taken from Nagpada to Bhoiwada, before taking me inside the lock up, they emptied my pockets during my physical search. They took away my mobile, ATM card, PAN card and Rs. 25.000 cash, which I was carrying off, with which I wanted to purchase a personal computer. PSI Sunil Mane only made entry of ATM card, PAN card and mobile in panchnama. However they distributed the Rs. 25000 cash among themselves. On 29 July, 2006, when PSI Sunil Mane was prepreparing panchnama, I noticed that he did not mention the Rs. 25.000 cash in the recovery. upon which I asked him about the money. I was surprised by his reply: "bhool ja be tere paise!" (forget your money)
Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) detained me illegally from 24 July, 2006 to 29 July, 2006, as I was not produced before any Magistrate till 29 July, 2006. During this period ATS officers continued beating me for several hours everyday.
ATS officers had searched my house in my absence, as I was in their custody. They took all the books and literature which was published recently into their custody. ATS officers had taken all valuable things from house, which I saw in ATS office and which included computer, printer, drill machine, tape recorder, Rs. 10.000 cash, blankets etc. ATS officers chose two books namely Jihadi Azkar and Islam ki Rooh-Jihad fi Sabilillah, which described basic fundamentals of Jihad in Islam, and contains verses of Qur’an and saying of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), and does not contain any inflammatory material and is easily available in the market. On the basis of these two books they arrested me on 29 July, 2006 and produced me before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, 2nd Court, Mazgaon, Mumbai and took me on 15 days police custody u/s 10&13 of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967. I was surprised when charge sheet was filed and one book namely Jihad fi sabilillah-kyon added in recovery which was not at my house. I wanted to tell many things to magistrate about the torture and illegal detention but ATS threatened me not to say anything to magistrate or else they will torture me more severely using third degree torture methods, therefore I could not tell any thing to the magistrate.
Torture position 2: Giving shock using an electric current machine by making the victim nude. They tie wire on thumbs of legs and private parts of body, then current is passed at regular intervals.
ATS officer took me to unit-II office and they started beating me, they never told me any thing why they had arrested me but kept beating me. While torturing they used to say that too musalman hai isliye tere ko mar rahe hain (You are Muslim therefore we are thrashing you) with every blow they used to abuse my religion and said tere ko yehan koi nahi bachayega (No one will save you here). On 03 August, 2006 I was cruelly tortured by PSI Shailesh Gaekwad, PSI Sunil Mane and PI Vilas Joshi and asked me to accept the said crime of bomb blast in front of senior officials of ATS because of the torture I agreed to do whatever the ATS officers told me to do. After which they took me to ATS head office, where ATS Chief KP Raghuvanshi and DCP Naval Bajaj were seated in the office. There in front of these senior officers I complained about the torture that PSI Shailesh Gaekwad, PSI Sunil Mane and PI Vilas Joshi had done, and I also told ATS chief KP Raghuvanshi, that I am innocent and they are trying to involve me in the blast case. But to my surprise KP Raghuvanshi slapped me and told the officers that this torture was not enough and asked them to take me to Bhoiwada and beat me black and blue. I completely lost faith in the senior-most officers as well as junior officers because this fraud of framing innocent people was ordered by senior officers of ATS including ATS chief. That on next day i.e. on 05 August, 2006 an officer namely PI Sunil Deshmukh took me to Chandan Chowki at Juhu where the officers conducted Narco analysis test which was illegal and without permission of court, and the officers from Forensic Science Laboratory, Mumbai were also present there. Before taking me to Chandan Chowki, I was taken for medical check up at KEM Hospital, where I had complained about the torture, the medical officer present there referred to get x-ray and gave some medicines. However the medical reports were false and no report of torture was registered. After the illegal Narco test DCP Naval Bajaj told me that, I confirm that you are innocent and we will transfer you to judicial custody on 12 August, 2006. However the next day I was taken to Nagpada unit-II by PI Dinesh Ahir, and upon reaching there he along with other officers tortured me and also gave electric shock on my private parts. After torturing me for ten hours they left me back to Bhoiwada lock up.
Torture position 3: After removing clothes, the victim is made to sit on floor with both hands tied behind by rope; thereafter both legs are stretched in opposite direction making 180 deg. angle.
On 12 August, 2006, ATS officers arrested me in Mumbai train serial blast case and took on police custody for two days. ATS officers told me that I will be sent to Judicial custody on 14 August, 2006. However on 14 August, 2006, they took police custody upto 25 August, 2006. On the same day I was taken to Kurla in Vijay Salaskar’s anti-Robbery Squad office which is also a torture room. There the officers beat me with belt and stick and then they handcuffed me to the window and did not allow me to sleep and I remained standing whole night.The same night ie. in the night of 59th anniversary of Independence day, horrifying torture were carried out by Vijay Salaskar’s men on the family members of an accused namely Faisal Shaikh, who is under arrest in the Mumbai train serial blast case. These tortures are a great shame for nation as our country became Independent on the ideology of "ahinsa" propounded by father of nation Mahatma Gandhi. In front of us Vijay Salaskar’s men had removed the dress of 75 year old Faisal’s father and beat him with belt. They also insulted the modesty of woman by uncovering the face of wife of Faisal’s brother, which was covered by veil.
On 21 August, 2006, PI Vilas Joshi, API Survey of Nagpada unit took me to Ujjain by train. There ATS officer showed me a hut 20 km away from Ujjain city. After that they told me that now you had attended a meeting held in 1st week of July at the said place. I was stunned and surprised because they falsely implicated me in the said meeting. On 24 August, 2006, I was taken back to Bhoiwada lock up.
On 25 August, 2006, I was produced before Hon’ble Judge of Mazgaon Court and ATS again took me in police custody till 08 September, 2006 in another case of Mumbai serial train blast registered by Andheri Railway Police Station. ATS officers did not allow me to sleep for six consecutive days. During this period an officer from Ahmadabad, Gujarat namely DG Vanzara also interrogated me and also abused and tortured me. He said that you are in Mumbai that is why you are alive, if you were arrested in Gujarat, I would have done your encounter. DG Vanzara told Naval Bajaj that the arrested accused are Muslims, therefore implicate them in the blast case to avoid public reaction and pressure from the government, and if required shoot any of them and show that they were trying to escape from custody.
Torture position 4: Victim is tied to a chair so that he is unable to move his head in any direction; water is dropped slowly on his scalp for hours causing very strong pain in neck and head.
On 05 September, 2006, I was taken to ATS Head Office, where police commissioner AN Roy, ATS chief KP Raghuvanshi, Adl. CP SK Jaisawal, Jaijeet Singh were present. However Jaijeet Singh and SK Jaisawal left the room. KP Raghuvanshi told me that "we are not able to find the real culprits and were are planning to frame up the case because government is pressurising us to implicate the arrested accused and finish the case, and also told me that "we will make you an approver in the case and you will be released after some months". He also offered me Rs. 25 lakhs for becoming an approver. I refused and told him that I am innocent and there is no question of confessing the crime or turning into an approver. The next day I was taken to Bangalore to conduct Brain mapping test, polygraph test and Narco analysis test. PI Raja Mandge and PI Prasad Khandekar took me along with them to Bangalore through Jet Airways. In Bangalore I was taken to Forensic Science Laboratory, where brain mapping and polygraph test was conducted by Dr S Malini. Next day I was taken to Bowring & Lady Curzon Hospital for the Narco analysis test. After conducting this test I was brought back to Mumbai on 08 September, 2006. While returning to Mumbai API Shelke told me in the plane that the test confirms that I am innocent and will be released shortly. However ATS officers produced me before the court and took me in police custody till 14 September, 2006, and arrested me in another case of Mumbai train serial blast registered by Bandra Railway Police Station. On 10 September, I was again taken to Bangalore for another Narco analysis test. The Narco test was conducted on 12 September by Dr S Malini. During the test, I was conscious and understood all the questions asked by Dr S Malina and answer given by me. The next day i.e. on 13 September, 2006, I was brought to Mumbai by another officer PI Prasad Khandekar and was taken to Nagpada ATS head office and produced before KP Raghuvanshi who told me that I have taken lot of rest and now it is time to break your bones. If you want to save yourself then do as directed and become an approver. I declined his offer saying that I am innocent and you all are trying to frame me in an offence which I have nothing to do with. This infuriated him and he told to PI Tajne to take me to Kalachowki police station and beat me till I obey them. PI Tajne took me to Kalachowki police station, there officers including Adl. CP Jaijeet Singh, DCP Naval Bajaj, ACP Sadashiv Laxman Patil PI Raja Mandge, Tajne, Khanwilkar and other constables started beating me using third degree torture methods. During the torture ATS officer showed me an edited CD of the Narco test. When I told them that the CD was edited, they started beating me mercilessly and asked me to act according to their wish. The series of tortur continued till 18 September, 2006, and on the same day PI Khanwilkar talked to me in private and said that he will request to the police commissioner AN Roy for my judicial custody on 22 September, 2006 and after one month I will be discharged from this case. However, when I was produced in court on 22 September, 2006, PI Khanwilkar told me that the senior officers have planned to falsely implicate you people in this case, but also said that do not worry as ATS have no proof of your involvement in this case and you will be discharged or acquitted from this case in about two years.
On 24 September, 2006, ATS officers again took me to Bangalore for Narco analysis test and I understood that the frequency of conducting so many Narco test was only to convince the senior officials of the government. From the Narco test ATS officers wanted some specific word from the accused persons which would incriminate them in this case and they wanted the Narco test video CD edited in a proper manner, which they did with the help of Dr S Malini, who conducted the Narco test thrice on me and other co-accused persons. Dr S Malini is also involved along with the ATS officers in this fraud. On 27 September, 2006, I was brought back to Mumbai on 28 September, 2006, I was produced before Hon’ble special judge Shri Abhay Thipsay in Sewri Session Court and ATS took my police custody under Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act 1999 till 09 October, 2006.
On 29 September, 2006, I was tortured continuously for five hours using third degree methods by PSI Sachin Kadam, later I was produced before police commissioner AN Roy and ATS chief KP Raghuvanshi. Both the senior officers laughed at me and KP Raghuvanshi told me that I have been implicated in the blast case and forget about India being a democratic country. India is a Hindu rashtra and there is no place for Muslims in India. Muslims in India are only for jail and encounter. Now the only way to protect yourself from long imprisonment is that you become an approver in this case. I refused to become an approver and told them that the method to save myself was that you people catch the real culprits and release the innocent people. On this AN Roy told me that I have pressure from the home minister of India and home minister of state, and we are unable to do anything besides framing the case on you people and fabricating evidence against you people because I have to answer my seniors also. After this AN Roy told me that tomorrow we are calling a press conference and you all will be famous as terrorists.
On 03 October, 2006, DCP Naval Bajaj came to meet me in Bhoiwada lock up. He was convincing me to sign on some blank paper and some paper with written material, but I did not sign on any of the papers. He abused me and said that I was very stubborn and would not obey without being tortured. After that I was taken to Kalachowki police station for torture.
On 06 October, 2006, PI Tajne produced me before DCP Dattaray Karale of zone IV, where the DCP asked my name and lodged me in Matunga General lock up for 22 hours. During this time PI Tajne and API Deore tortured me in Matunga lock up and threatened me to sign on the papers given to me on next day. Then next day I was taken to the office of DCP Dattararay Karale, where he forced me to sign on some papers, with written material on it. PI Tajne and API Deore were also present in DCP’s cabin. I did not sign the papers voluntarily but upon police pressure and threats I did. Later I was produced before chief metropolitan magistrate SS Shirke. The magistrate asked my name and date of first arrest in front of ATS officers. I did not understand what was going on, then I was sent back to Bhoiwada lock up. On 08 October, 2006, one of the ATS offices told me that the papers which I had signed was my confession, which I was not aware of till this ATS officer informed me. On 09 October, 2006, I retracted my "confession", which is false and fabricated, before Hon’ble special judge Mridulla Bhatkar, and on the same day I was remanded to judicial custody.
Torture position 5: Victim is tied upside down, both legs and hands also are tied by rope, then water is poured into his nose at regular intervals for about one hour
In the police custody of 75 days, I never forgot the words of Asstt. Commissioner of Police late Shri Vinod Bhatt, who committed suicide in the second week of August. Before his suicide, during interrogation he told me that he was under immense pressure from his senior officers to implicate us falsely in Mumbai train blast case and he also promised that he will try his best not to implicate all of you innocent people till he is alive. Unfortunately Shri Vinod Bhatt committed suicide under tremendous pressure.
In the 75 days long period, police custody, ATS officers used third degree method for torture. The third degree torture methods which were used by ATS officers on me are as follows:
- ATS officers used belt, which is used in flour mill, to beat us. They strike on the inner part of hand and feet about 200 times per spell leaving part of hand and feet in blue colour with strong pain during torture. After beating the parts of hands and feet become swollen. Medical officer of KEM Hospital supported ATS by not examining properly. ATS also used this belt to torture us also on any part of body, even on buttock also, due to this torture I cannot sit properly.
- ATS officers gave me shock using an electric current machine by making me nude. They used to tie wire on thumbs of legs and private parts of body. After that they pass the current at regular intervals. ATS used this method of torture four times on me during police custody.
- After removing my clothes, I was made to sit down on floor, both hands tied by rope behind the body, thereafter my both legs stretched in opposite direction making 180 degree angle. This torture method was repeated many times. During the period of custody they stretched my legs five times.
- ATS officers tied me on a chair, which is kept very close to wall, they tied my head in a way that I cannot move my head anywhere in any direction. Then they dropped the water drop-by drop on my scalp upto eight hours. Due to this torture very strong pain occurred in neck and head.
- They used to tie me upside down (i.e. in reverse position) and my both legs and hands also tied by rope, then they used to pour water in my nose at regular intervals about one hour, they used this technique of torture on me 3 times.
- ATS officers threatened me that my family members also will be arrested in this case or brought by ATS and they will be molested, if I do not sign on confessional statement. They used the example of the family of my co-accused Faisal Shaikh, who was molested by Vijay Salaskar team in front of me.
- ATS officers, including senior officers of IPS rank police commissioner AN Roy and ATS chief KP Raghunvanshi had given huge amount of cash after release, and also given the inducement of settlement anywhere in the world. These officers also promised many times to discharge me from the case if I became an approver.