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No innocent should ever be jailed, my life is dedicated to get other innocents released: Abdul Wahid Shaikh

Abdul Wahid Shaikh talks to Sabrang India’s Vallari Sanzgiri in an interview about his experience as an accused in the 2006 Mumbai train bomb blast case

Sabrangindia 17 Jun 2022

Abdul wahid shaikh

Abdul Wahid Shaikh, was a teacher in a Mumbai school when he was wrongly imprisoned in the Mumbai train bomb blasts case on July 11, 2006. Although police could find no evidence against him, he was released from jail in 2015, while 12 fellow-accused in the case remain imprisoned to this day.

Through his book ‘Begunah Kaidi’ (Innocent Prisoner) – and recent movie ‘Haemolymph’ – Wahid spoke about how his refusal to sign a false confessional statement proved his greatest strength. The beginning of his book and movie also talk about his interaction with a 1993 bomb blast accused. Shocking though not surprising is the manner in which co-accused were tortured and pressured to sign statements that were used against them in court. Wahid himself is recently dedicated to educating people about their rights as accused. His book is an important stepping stone in this direction.

However, many other questions remain. What did he do during his years in prison? How did he fight the case and what effect did it have on him? When and how did he resolve to write his book? Most importantly, what kept him going through this ordeal?

In this interview with Sabrang India, Wahid talks about his life in jail, how he continued his post-graduation and law-studies behind bars and the treatment of the police towards accused. While discussing the prevalence of police-raj in India, that too with a distinct anti-minority (Muslim) bias, Wahid also talks about how unconstitutional laws such as UAPA, MCOCA, POTA and TADA support such a partisan regime. He also talks about his deep concerns regarding the manner in which the criminal justice system works. Prison manuals, rules are just never implemented, they remain on paper for the prisoner who suffers the indignity of unregulated prison assaults.

With great stoicism and eloquence, Wahid talks about his life as an innocent prisoner.

Wahid’s well-documented book, published by Pharos Media in 2021, has been preceded by another searing account of torture of a Muslim cleric, Mufti Abdul Qayum Mansuri from Ahmedabad, Gujarat, who suffered brutality when wrongly accused and convicted in the infamous Akshardham case (2003), Gujarat. He and five others were finally released 9 years later, on May 16, 2016 when the Supreme Court, in a scathing judgement pulled up the investigation and prosecution for lack of basic professional standards. “ The story of the prosecution crumbles at every juncture,” the SC had then observed. Former DG Vanzara himself an accused in the Sohrabuddin and Ishrat Jahan encounters that shook the state in the mid-2000s guided the (mis)conduct vis a vis Mufri Abdul Qayum and others under the now repealed POTA law.

In Innocent Prisoner, 500 pages, well written and direct, pen the story of not just the 7/11 train blasts case of 2006 and how persons (apart from Abdul Wahid Shaikh) still remain incarcerated, but do so with the express purpose of wanting to inform other innocent accused from the minority Muslim community, who with some legal knowledge could resist such false and mala fide incarceration. In that sense, the book is a treatise in simple legal education, a tutorial that even our police and judiciary desperately need. Special thanks are given by the writer to Jamiat-e-Ulema Hind for help battling such cases be the case of the Akshardham (2003) falsely accused or the 7/11 Mumbai train blasts. Indians should be concerned about the fact that we still do not know the criminals who were responsible behind these mass public outrages. Worse even is the fact that the policemen, named in both instances of grossly illegal acts, were not prosecuted or punished. [1]

Related:

Moderate or Conservative: Who represents the Indian Muslim?

India under Modi is living through a Dark Age: Professor DN Jha

The Constitution is a miracle: Sen Adv Rajeev Dhawan

Dec 15: Jamia attack anniversary

 


[1] In September 2014, the same SC that had acquitted all the six accused in the Akshardham case refused the acquitted persons right to reparation and fair compensation. Most of India’s counter-terror laws carry within them craftily drafted clauses/sections that in fact protect police and the jail administration from prosecution for mala fide acts.

No innocent should ever be jailed, my life is dedicated to get other innocents released: Abdul Wahid Shaikh

Abdul Wahid Shaikh talks to Sabrang India’s Vallari Sanzgiri in an interview about his experience as an accused in the 2006 Mumbai train bomb blast case

Abdul wahid shaikh

Abdul Wahid Shaikh, was a teacher in a Mumbai school when he was wrongly imprisoned in the Mumbai train bomb blasts case on July 11, 2006. Although police could find no evidence against him, he was released from jail in 2015, while 12 fellow-accused in the case remain imprisoned to this day.

Through his book ‘Begunah Kaidi’ (Innocent Prisoner) – and recent movie ‘Haemolymph’ – Wahid spoke about how his refusal to sign a false confessional statement proved his greatest strength. The beginning of his book and movie also talk about his interaction with a 1993 bomb blast accused. Shocking though not surprising is the manner in which co-accused were tortured and pressured to sign statements that were used against them in court. Wahid himself is recently dedicated to educating people about their rights as accused. His book is an important stepping stone in this direction.

However, many other questions remain. What did he do during his years in prison? How did he fight the case and what effect did it have on him? When and how did he resolve to write his book? Most importantly, what kept him going through this ordeal?

In this interview with Sabrang India, Wahid talks about his life in jail, how he continued his post-graduation and law-studies behind bars and the treatment of the police towards accused. While discussing the prevalence of police-raj in India, that too with a distinct anti-minority (Muslim) bias, Wahid also talks about how unconstitutional laws such as UAPA, MCOCA, POTA and TADA support such a partisan regime. He also talks about his deep concerns regarding the manner in which the criminal justice system works. Prison manuals, rules are just never implemented, they remain on paper for the prisoner who suffers the indignity of unregulated prison assaults.

With great stoicism and eloquence, Wahid talks about his life as an innocent prisoner.

Wahid’s well-documented book, published by Pharos Media in 2021, has been preceded by another searing account of torture of a Muslim cleric, Mufti Abdul Qayum Mansuri from Ahmedabad, Gujarat, who suffered brutality when wrongly accused and convicted in the infamous Akshardham case (2003), Gujarat. He and five others were finally released 9 years later, on May 16, 2016 when the Supreme Court, in a scathing judgement pulled up the investigation and prosecution for lack of basic professional standards. “ The story of the prosecution crumbles at every juncture,” the SC had then observed. Former DG Vanzara himself an accused in the Sohrabuddin and Ishrat Jahan encounters that shook the state in the mid-2000s guided the (mis)conduct vis a vis Mufri Abdul Qayum and others under the now repealed POTA law.

In Innocent Prisoner, 500 pages, well written and direct, pen the story of not just the 7/11 train blasts case of 2006 and how persons (apart from Abdul Wahid Shaikh) still remain incarcerated, but do so with the express purpose of wanting to inform other innocent accused from the minority Muslim community, who with some legal knowledge could resist such false and mala fide incarceration. In that sense, the book is a treatise in simple legal education, a tutorial that even our police and judiciary desperately need. Special thanks are given by the writer to Jamiat-e-Ulema Hind for help battling such cases be the case of the Akshardham (2003) falsely accused or the 7/11 Mumbai train blasts. Indians should be concerned about the fact that we still do not know the criminals who were responsible behind these mass public outrages. Worse even is the fact that the policemen, named in both instances of grossly illegal acts, were not prosecuted or punished. [1]

Related:

Moderate or Conservative: Who represents the Indian Muslim?

India under Modi is living through a Dark Age: Professor DN Jha

The Constitution is a miracle: Sen Adv Rajeev Dhawan

Dec 15: Jamia attack anniversary

 


[1] In September 2014, the same SC that had acquitted all the six accused in the Akshardham case refused the acquitted persons right to reparation and fair compensation. Most of India’s counter-terror laws carry within them craftily drafted clauses/sections that in fact protect police and the jail administration from prosecution for mala fide acts.

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