Gulail Expose – The Squad’s Fall Guys


The Maharashtra ATS persists with the prosecution of 13 innocent Muslims by keeping the evidence of their innocence from the court. Ashish Khetan exposes a sinister conspiracy of the men in uniform.Additional reporting by Thufail PT
Not one but two acts of terror visited us on July 11th 2006. The first was inflicted by those who planted seven deadly bombs on suburban trains in Mumbai, snuffing out 188 innocent lives. The second, invisible but equally insidious, was unleashed in its aftermath. It was those sworn to uphold the rule of law, to be fair and just who launched a systematic programme of Muslim persecution.In the name of combating terror, the Mumbai police and its specialized anti-terror squad (the ATS), tortured, humiliated and stripped at least twenty innocent Muslims of all their basic human rights. Their right to live with dignity, their right to be a Muslim, their right to earn an honest living—was mercilessly taken away in one fell swoop.

Waterboarding, administration of chemicals through veins and anus, giving electric shock to their private parts, sleep deprivation, threat of raping family members were among some of the techniques of coercion that were applied to extract false confessions.

In the course of its investigations Gulail is putting out internal documents running into hundreds of pages that exposes how the anti-terror agencies deliberately misled the Indian Courts, how material facts are being concealed from both the public and the judiciary and how different versions of the same terror plot are touted before different courts. Our expose establishes how the Maharashtra ATS selectively picked and chose from the revelations made in a subsequent terror investigation. This was done to retrospectively validate the bogus 7/11 train blasts investigation. These documents reveal how one version of a terror conspiracy was circulated for the internal consumption of the agencies and another for the judiciary.

This investigation by Gulail exposes the false implication of innocent and disempowered Muslims in crimes they never committed. It lays bare the sinister and elaborate conspiracy of the Maharashtra ATS of manufacturing bogus evidence, planting explosives in the houses of innocent accused and dressing up stoolpigeons as eyewitnesses.

It shows that the Maharashtra ATS’s investigation was guided by a deep rooted and extreme prejudice against the Muslims. Anyone with a past association with the student organization¬¬¬¬– Students Islamic Movement of India was automatically deemed a terror suspect. The act of publishing Islamic books was equated with sedition. To be a devout Muslim was seen as a sure sign of extremism. Gulail’sexpose shows that the ATS instead of carrying out a methodical, in-depth or scientific investigation opted for the easiest route. They went after the usual suspects. Anyone with a past, formal or informal, association with SIMI was hauled up to the police station and tortured. And as days went by without any leads or break-through and public pressure to show results grew, the ATS implicated a set of former SIMI members who had been kept in illegal detention since the blasts. This story lays bare the absolute farcical method of ATS investigation and utter contempt for the due process of law.

More significantly, Gulail puts the spotlight on a deep crisis brewing in our democracy. It is a crisis of a loss of faith in the ideals of justice and perhaps the very idea of a secular India. Every act of police brutality and false implication not just strikes at the rule of law. It also erodes the faith of our minorities in the capacity of this nation to dispense equal justice and to live by the promise made by our founding fathers. This story exposes the deep rot that has set in in our system, one that first condones and then resolutely fails to take any kind of corrective action.

For the last seven years thirteen innocent Muslims are facing a farcical trial in the Mumbai train bombings. A good portion of their life has been spent behind the bars, their families have been forced to live a life of deprivation and hardships and their future and the future of their children has been cast with a permanent shadow.

Gulail is putting out in the public domain the testimonies of unspeakable torture and humiliation of members of the minority community at the hands of the ATS. These Muslims were tortured to extract false confessions of their involvement in the train blast case. Under the draconian law of MCOCA, confessions made before the police are admissible in court. As soon as these accused were sent to judicial custody, they all retracted their confessions, exposing the coercive tactics of the ATS.

All this material amounts to compelling evidence of the deliberate faking of evidence as well as the most inhuman torture of innocent Muslims in police custody to pervert the course of justice.  We hope that these revelations would shock the conscience of those occupying the highest echelons in the judiciary and the government.

In keeping with its promise of fighting against injustice and inequities not only in the public space but also in the courts, Gulail has filed a letter petition in the Bombay High Court and before statutory bodies like the National Human Rights Commission and the National Minorities Commission.

The Usual Suspects
The July 2006 train blasts were the biggest terror strikes in India after the 1993 Bombay blasts. Seven synchronized bombs claimed around 190 lives—an indication of an extremely sophisticated and elaborate conspiracy. So how did the Mumbai police go about the investigation? Did they turn to sophisticated investigative techniques. No, what they did do was haul up the usual suspects, that is, the ex-members or sympathizers of the SIMI to the police station and began interrogating them. These were the same people whom the police had been surveilling for the last 5 years since the ban on the SIMI. They became a familiar sight, hauled into the police station every time there was a bomb explosion in the city. In other words a lazy and malicious police machinery presumed those constantly under their radar to be suspects.Eventually 13 innocent Muslims were oimplicated in the blasts case on the basis of confessions made before police officers.

Take the case of 30-year old (age at the time of his arrest) Abdul Wahid Sheikh who was a teacher at Anjuman Islam AbdusSattarSaheb High School, MaulanaShaukat Ali Road, Mumbai. In 2001 when the SIMI was banned, the Mumbai police had registered a case against Wahid and dozens of other Muslim youth from Mumbai for being members of the banned organization.  Since 2001 the Mumbai police had been following the policy of hauling SIMI members to the police station every time there was a bomb explosion in the city. Since 2001 like other alleged SIMI members Wahid was permanently on the police radar. He was interrogated on multiple occasions after a series of blasts at Ghatkopar, Mulund and Vile Parle in 2002-2003 and the Gateway of India Blasts, 2003. Similarly, after the 7/11 blasts Wahid was detained at the ATS police stations. The ATS finally arrested him under the claim that he had been absconding since the train blasts.  During the trial evidence has now emerged of police station diary entries showing his presence on multiple occasions at different police stations after the train blasts.

Similarly,Dr Tanveer Ansari, a BUMS doctor was working as a specialist in emergency procedures at Fauzia Nursing Home in Nagpada, Mumbai. In 2001, Tanveer had participated in the medical relief work carried out by the SIMI in Bhuj in the aftermath of the 2001 earthquake.  In 2001, when the SIMI was banned, Tanveer was also arrested, accused of being a member of the SIMI. Like other associates of the SIMI, Tanveer too became a usual suspect, questioned multiple times in the aftermath of the bomb explosions. Post 7/11, after some rounds of questioning, Tanveer was illegally detained and finally arrested.
The story of the other eleven accused is more or less similar, except that some of them had absolutely no linkage with the SIMI. Still they were implicated since the ATS needed an array of characters for the fanciful story they had scripted.
The Call Data Records of the cell phones owned by these men have now revealed that they were not even present at the blast site.

Torture and Coercion 
Out of the nine 7/11 accused who were interviewed by Gulail, eight gave a detailed description of the unspeakable torture they were subjected to in police custody (all 13 accused have been behind bars for the past seven years, these interviews were obtained by Gulail with great difficulty in court corridors. Gulail couldn’t speak with the ninth accused MuzammilShaikh in detail as the police escort stopped us from interacting with him).
1
Kala Chowki branch of the ATS was the designated torture chamber. Besides inspectors and constables, senior IPS officers like AN Roy, Naval Bajaj and Jaijeet Singh also participated in torturing these men.

Waterboarding.
The extremely barbaric technique of torture used by the CIA on Guantanamo Bay detainees was used by the ATS on these 13 innocent Muslims. The accused used to be tied to a handcart with their feet up. Their faces were then covered with a piece of cloth and water was poured onto their faces so that they felt like they were drowning.

Narco-analysis in police custody
Many of these men while they were in police custody were also administered chemicals through their veins that was meant to make them unconscious and was supposedly meant to extract information. These narco-analysis tests were carried out in police custody without any medical supervision or court permission. These illegal narco tests were done in addition to the narco-analysis that was done on many of these men with court permission at the FSL, Bangalore facility.

Some of the other techniques of torture that were used:

  1. 180 degree stretching of legs
  2. Electric shock to private parts
  3. Beating with shoes and belts
  4. Chinese water torture: Victims head was fixed to a spot

 

Manufacturing bogus Evidence

The evidence lead in the charge-sheet was of three kinds:-11 MCOCA confessions made to police officers; recoveries of explosives and detonators from some of the accused and  so-called public witnesses (well known stool pigeons or those  under the thumb of the police)  who claimed the unlikely feat of recognising the faces of some of the  accused while getting in and out from the local train though they were strangers to them. However, against most of the accused, the case is based on confessions and recoveries.

Gulail’s investigation reveals the circumstances under which these accused were compelled to sign onto pre-drafted confessions. Some accused agreed to sign under extreme physical pain. But there were some who refused to give in. These men were then told that their wives, sisters and mothers would be raped in front of their eyes and their brothers and father would also be implicated. Faisal Shaikh’s 70-year old father was made to march naked in front of his son. The ATS finally got what they wanted. These men too gave in.
The ATS extracted 11 confessions on the strength of which they filed the chargesheet in the first week of December 2006.  Since then all 13 men have been in jail.


The crackdown on the ‘Indian Mujahideen’ and arrest of Sadiq Sheikh.

In August and September 2008, there were serial blasts in Delhi, Ahmedabad and Surat.  Following some leads in these blasts, the Mumbai Crime Branch arrested one Sadiq Sheikh along with 20 other accused from Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra.

Subsequent to the arrests, the Mumbai Crime Branch claimed to have recorded confessions of more than 10-12 persons including SadiqShaikh, as this was also a MCOCA investigation.
This was a crucial juncture in the terror investigations in India. In a span of a little over one year between August 2007 and September 2008, there were terror bombings in Bangalore (seven serial blasts of July 2008), Hyderabad (Lumbini Park and GokulChaat Blasts of August 2007), UP (triple blasts at Court premises in Lucknow, Varanasi and Faizabad, November 2007), Jaipur (serial blasts of May 2008), Ahmedabad (21 serial blasts in July 2008) and Surat  (aborted attempt as eighteen bombs malfunctioned) and Delhi (five synchronized bomb blasts in market places of Delhi in September 2008). The series of bombings across India hinted at a single, integral terror conspiracy and brought several investigating agencies of different states together and consequent pooling of information.

Evidence emerges that 7/11 was not done by the 13 men originally arrested

Thus, the confessions of Sadiq Sheikh and others as recorded by the Mumbai Crime Branch, are significant, because they clearly point to the fact that even the July Mumbai local train bombings of 2006 were done by this set of people newly arrested and without any reference or link to those prosecuted by the ATS from 2006 onwards!

In other words the set of men arrested following the 2007 and 2008 set of bombings across the country were interrogated by Ahmedabad, Delhi, UP, Karnataka and other police teams and were subsequently made common accused in all these 2007-2008 blasts.
Sadiq Sheikh and his alleged ‘Indian Mujahideen’ accomplices were interrogated by different police agencies on different dates. Each agency prepared detailed Interrogation Reports (IRs). Common to all is the view or conclusion that it is this set of men that were behind even the July 2006 Mumbai local train bombings.

Gulail obtains internal documents of over half a dozen agencies that show the 13 train blast accused are innocent.

Our sources in the Mumbai police and state police agencies of Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka who were involved in investigating ‘Indian Mujahideen’ and its alleged involvement in the 2007 and 2008 blasts provided us the Interrogation Reports of Sadiq Sheikh and others prepared by each of these agencies (All these interrogation reports are uploaded on the website). These Interrogation Reports show the dates on which they were prepared and the computers on which they were prepared.

All these Interrogation Reports (IRs) based on ‘confessions’ record a massive and integral conspiracy. These IRs contain a meticulously detailed description of more than eight terror strikes that Sadiq Sheikh and his accomplices had plotted and executed since 2003:These are
1. DashashwamedhGhat, Varanasi, 2004 (the bomb packed in a container had failed to explode. The local police dismissed it as an accident. But Sadiq told the police that it was actually a terror plot)
2. Shramjeevi Express Blast,Jaunpur, UP, 2005
3. Diwali Blasts, Delhi, 2005
4. Varanasi Blasts, 2006
5. Mumbai Train Blasts, 2006
6. Hyderabad Twin Blasts (Gokul Chat and Lumbini Park), 2007
7. Ahmedabad Serial Blasts and the failed Surat Blasts.


Agencies accept Sadiq’s revelations in cases that were yet to be solved

The agencies have themselves claimed (both in court and in public) that Sadiq’s interrogation led to the arrest of over 70 terror suspects by UP ATS, Hyderabad CIC, Ahmedabad Crime Branch, Rajasthan ATS and Delhi Special Cell.

The content of these reports, and  ‘confessions’ etc is part of the charge-sheetSadiq and his accomplices in the alleged oufitnamed Indian Mujahideen were charge-sheeted in all those blast cases in which the investigation was still not completed. Hyderabad Blasts (Gokul Chat and Lumbini Park) of 2007, Ahmedabad and Surat (aborted) Blasts of 2008, Delhi Blasts of 2008 were some of the cases in which the alleged Indian Mujahideen members including SadiqShaikh were charge-sheeted.
At the same time all of them were equally aware that an entirely different set of persons had been put on trial for the same by the Maharashtra ATS.

But those parts of Sadiq’s revelations that go contrary to previous investigations are brushed under the carpet.

Now either Sadiq and his accomplices were responsible for 7/11 bombings or those 13 men who were originally arrested. But the agencies accepted and further corroborated only those of Sadiq’s revelations that related to the investigations in which the accused had still not been identified and arrested by the respective agencies. But revelations pertaining to blasts like 7/11 that went contrary to the police theory were conveniently ignored.

Can in a country governed by rule of law this policy of pick and choose followed by the agencies in the offences punishable with death penalty be condoned?

Thus at least after 2008 September, all the said agencies including ATS Maharashtra were privy to the nature of evidence and revelations pertaining to the July 11, 2006 train bombings and they relied heavily on these revelations in the investigations pertaining to the 2007-2008 bombings. But those revelations that related to the 7/11 Mumbai train blasts were conveniently brushed under the carpet.

The lack of bonafides is evident from the fact that no attempt was made to arrive at the truth or exonerate one set of obviously innocent persons.

But none of these agencies placed the entire relevant material before the MCOCA court trying an entirely unconnected set of 13 men for this very act. Why?

Our intent is not to pass a verdict of guilt against certain accused. But it is only to highlight the blatant discrepancies and contradictions in terror investigations. Evidence that suits a police case is considered credible and evidence that debunks bogus investigations is hidden both from the courts and public view.

HOW THE ATS MISLEAD THE 7/11 MUMBAI COURT

More here- http://www.gulail.com/squads-fall-story.html

 

Mumbai- Hubby’s ‘friends’ gang-rape woman, thrash him too #Vaw #WTFnews


By, TNN | Mar 17, 2013, TRAPE

MUMBAI: In the third case reported in the city in a week, a 30-year-old woman was gangraped by seven persons late on Friday in her shanty adjoining the Matunga railway compound wall. Some of the accused thrashed the victim’s husband to prevent him from coming to her rescue or raising an alarm. The Dadar GRPregistered an offence of gangrape, assault, sodomy and intimidation, before transferring it to the Matunga city police station. No arrests were made.On Wednesday, a woman was gangraped at Vile Parle while in a separate incident the same day, a eunuch was sodomized in a moving van at Kurla.

The husband of the Matunga victim grows vegetables near the tracks. They have an 18-month-old daughter who went missing six months ago. This is the victim’s second marriage; her first husband resides in Bhiwandi with their three kids.

“Two of the seven accused, Siddhu and Anoop, are known to the victim’s husband. Siddhu is a resident of Matunga labour camp,” said a police officer.

Around 6pm on Friday, the victim and her husband had a fight. Siddhu arrived at their house soon after and began instigating the victim’s husband to desert her. After Siddhu made a pass at her, the victim’s husband threatened to lodge a complaint with the RPF against him. This prompted Siddhu to leave.

Later that night, the couple was asleep when some men knocked at the door around 11.45pm. They claimed to be looking for a friend. “Once inside, some of the accused dragged out the victim’s husband and thrashed him with bamboo sticks. The others took turns to rape her,” said an officer. The victim was also sodomized. Her husband couldn’t come to her aid as he was injured. The accused left around 1.15am.

 

Mumbai–Woman gang-raped in front of male friend throughout night #VAW #WTFnews


 Adrienne Rich`s #Rape- but the hysteria in your voice pleases him best #poem #Vaw

By, TNN | Mar 15, 2013, 01.07 AM IST

MUMBAI: A 23-year-old woman was raped by four men through Wednesday night in the presence of her male friend at his home in Vile Parle (E). Her torture continued for more than five hours till her friend managed to hoodwink the accused and call up an acquaintance who led the police to the spot and got the four arrested.The accused, Rajesh Varma (21), Ramchandra Humbe (30), Krishna Kevat (31) and Mahesh Kewat (20), were produced in the Andheri magistrate court on Thursday. The court reprimanded the police for handling the case casually as they had not mentioned any strong point in the remand application. The officers had reportedly asked for the four’s custody stating that during the recording of witnesses’ statement, they wanted the accused in their custody to prevent them from threatening the witnesses. The court said such a request should have been made while opposing their bail application and not while demanding their remand. The magistrate subsequently remanded the four to police custody till March 20.Around 1.30am on Wednesday, a tourist taxi driver brought over his female friend to his chawl room at Sahar in Andheri (E); his wife and child were away to their village and he was alone at home. As the two walked towards the driver’s room, the four accused, notorious in the area for creating trouble, followed them, said the police.

The four, carrying alcohol bottles, barged into the room and accosted the man; brandishing a knife, they threatened him into silence, said the police. Even as three of the men pinned the driver down, one allegedly raped the woman.

After the first accused committed the crime, the four sat down and had a drink following which the remaining three took turns to allegedly rape the woman. The assault on the woman continued till morning when around 7am, the driver made an excuse of visiting the bathroom. From there, he called up his acquaintance. The friend approached the Vile Parle police who sent a team with him to the chawl. The four, who were still in the chawl room, were arrested and booked for gang rape, wrongful confinement and robbery.

The accused have confessed to have followed the victim and the driver to his room in the chawl.

#India -10,646 Indians jailed abroad and forgotten #prisons


Published: Sunday, Oct 28, 2012, 8:15 IST
DNA Special
By Yogesh Pawar | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

Indian techie Bhavesh Parmar’s return has highlighted the plight of Indian prisoners in Pakistan. But there are also 10,646 other Indians who’ve shared a similar plight inprisons across the globe since 2000, an RTI query by Thane resident and RTI activist Om Prakash Sharma to the ministry of external affairs has revealed. It also reveals that 29 Indians were given the death penalty in different countries during the same period for offences like drug running, theft and murder.

“If you go by figures available with international watchdog organisations, it’s clear that India has the largest number of its citizens incarcerated abroad,” Sharma told DNA. “The media glare on cases like Sarabjit Singh ensures that the government attempts to at least show that it is taking action. But other prisoners and their families struggle on their own, with no support forthcoming.”

Pakistan, with 2,372 Indians in prison, is second to the UAE, where the numbers nearly double at 4,315. Bangladesh follows with 2,008 Indians jailed, while Kuwait with 1,161 comes fourth. This is followed by China, with 673 Indian inmates, and Oman, with 429.

Incidentally, the UAE has given as many as 21 Indians the death penalty since 2000, followed by Kuwait with six death penalties, while Timor and Iran have executed one Indian each.

When asked to comment, MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin defended the ministry, “The MEA extends every possible help to all Indian nationals, irrespective of where they are. There is no prioritisation on the basis of which country they’re incarcerated in.”
Sharma points out instances of how other countries go out of their way to help their nationals caught in a similar predicament.

“Look at the recent case of Italian marines who’re facing trial in India over murder charges after they shot dead two fishermen off the coast of Kerala in February this year. Their government has gone out on a limb to help them and is even using non-conventional tactics – like encouraging sporting events sponsored by Italian brands – to create sympathy for the marines.”

He lamented: “Indian authorities love to preen at the high table, calling the country an equal among superpowers. But the real acid test is how much they value they lives of their citizens. Even human rights activists, who hog the limelight when it comes to cases like Sarabjit, never speak about imprisonment of other Indians or the death penalties handed out.”

Don’t want to disturb him: Parmar’s mother
A day after 32-year-old software engineer Bhavesh Parmar reached his Vile Parle home after spending seven years in a Pakistani prison, his family is being very cautious. They have decided not to talk to him or let him talk to anyone else either, his mother Hansaben told DNA. She also said that it was too early to consult a psychiatrist and that they were going to give Bhavesh time to adjust to life back at home. pXX

10,646: Indians jailed abroad since 2000
4,315 in UAE
2,372 in Pakistan
2,008 in Bangladesh
1,161 in Kuwait
673 in China
429 in Oman

#India- #Bhavesh Parmar Techie returns a free man 8 years after drifting into #Pakistan #goodnews


Yudhvir Rana & Bella Jaisinghani, TNN | Oct 26, 2012, 07.34AM IST

MUMBAI: Vile Parle resident Hansaben Parmar’s agonizingly long wait for her son finally ended on Thursday. Eight years after Bhavesh strayed across the border, he was repatriated by Pakistani authorities following his release from a Lahore prison.

A software engineer by education, 32-year-old Bhavesh crossed into India in the afternoon through Wagah border, where Hansaben was waiting for him. “Mamma mil gayee,” he exclaimed on embracing his mother. “I am so happy. I came all the way to Attari almost crying.”

Bhavesh is believed to have wandered into Pakistan in 2004 in a mentally disturbed state. That was the year his father passed away from cancer. His long leave of absence from work cost Bhavesh his job with a leading manufacturer of ATM machines.

On Thursday, Bhavesh, attired in a salwar-kameez and a jacket, said he accidentally boarded Samjhauta Express from Amritsar and fainted before reaching Pakistan. It is unclear how he reached Amritsar or got on the train. According to activists, Bhavesh was arrested in 2007 and in 2009 sentenced to three years’ imprisonment. Bhavesh said he was treated well in Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail.

Vile Parle MLA Krishna Hegde, who accompanied Hansaben to Attari, said Bhavesh will be taken to Mumbai on Friday after all formalities are completed.

During the Thursday reunion , Bhavesh’s mother kept breaking down. “These tears are of happiness. I have finally got my son back,” Hansaben said. While she expressed delight at his return , she wished Pakistan had repatriated him immediately after the arrest.

The 57-year-old said Bhavesh’s mental condition worried her and she would get medical exams conducted . “Bhavesh was dedicated to his father’s treatment. But we lost my husband within three months.” Bhavesh disappeared after the death while Hansaben was away at her parents’ place as per local traditions. “I had told my neighbours to take care of Bhavesh. But when I returned I found him missing.” She did not lodge a missing report with the police since she thought he might have gone in search of another job.

Hansaben was clueless about her son’s whereabouts until 2008, when Intelligence Bureau informed her about his presence in Pakistani jail. “We started making efforts to bring him back when we came to know that he was imprisoned in Pakistan,” explained Hansaben. The process was not easy but as time passed immense support poured in for Bhavesh’s release . Britainbased lawye r Ja s Uppal reported the case to the United Nations, Amnesty International , Human Rights Watch and to others. In July 2012, Pakistani lawyer Awais Sheikh filed Bhavesh’s mercy petition before the country’s president Asif Ali Zardari.

Back in Mumbai, friends and neighbours at Kamla Terrace building in Vile Parle who had helped Hansaben through the ordeal awaited Bhavesh’s return. “I was to travel to Wagah but could not make it,” said activist Jatin Desai.

‘MAMMA MIL GAYEE’ 

Tragedy at home 

Bhavesh Parmar, a software engineer, lived with his aged parents Hansaben and Kantilal Parmar at Kamla Terrace in Vile Parle He held a mid-level position with one of India’s largest manufacturers of ATMs The young man was left traumatized following the death of his father due to cancer in mid-2004 His prolonged absence from work owing to his father’s illness and then death cost him his job Unable to cope with the double blow, he wandered away from home in a disoriented state

Odyssey & ordeal 

The 24-year-old ended up in Pakistan aboard Samjhauta Express in 2004 He was arrested in 2007 and a case was registered under section 14 of the Foreigners Act In 2009, Bhavesh was given a three-year sentence with a penalty of Rs 5,000 For non-payment of penalty, he was made to undergo further imprisonment of three months His case was placed before Pakistan’s supreme court and Bhavesh was declared an internee on June 2 for three months. The term ended on September 28

Sparks of hope 

Earlier this year, Hansaben received a letter from journalist Neeraj Sharma informing that Bhavesh was in Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore Sharma had interviewed a batch of prisoners released at Wagah. One of them, Ram Rajji, passed on a chit of paper on which Bhavesh had scribbled the family’s Mumbai address A friend of Bhavesh telephoned the reporter, who, in turn, put him through to Rajji Hansaben approached local MLA Krishna Hegde in February 2012. The MLA, in turn, sought help from MP Priya Dutt. The chain led to external affairs minister S M Krishna and the Indian High Commission in Pakistan Soon, activists across the UK, Pakistan and India reached out to help In Pakistan, lawyer Awais Sheikh represented Bhavesh to secure his release.

 

Mumbai Man found in Lahore Jail after eight years


Letter from Pakistan – I want to return home

Vile Parle man who went missing in ’05 found in Lahore jail

After his father passed away, Bhavesh left home for Amritsar, hopped on to Samjhauta Express and crossed into Pakistan without any papers

Nazia Sayed, Mumbai Mirror
Thursday, May 03, 2012 at 09:39:40 PM

The man in the photograph is 32-year-old Bhavesh Kumar. He went missing from Mumbai eight years ago. The letter you see is one he wrote to his mother – 57-year-old Hansa Kantilal Parmar – in February this year. She got the letter from a man called from Ram Rajji, who described Bhavesh as being “very quiet”, as being a man who cried when he thought of home but at most times recalled nothing.

Rajji had spent time with Bhavesh in jail; a jail in Lahore, where Bhavesh has spent the last eight years remembering and forgetting the past. For Hansa, the letter has brought fresh hope that she may yet see her long-lost son.

Bhavesh’s and his mother’s story reads like a melodramatic film script, even if no one’s sure how it will end. According to the version the police managed to piece together, Bhavesh had drifted into depression after his father’s death. He stole money from home before boarding a train to Amritsar.

There, though it’s unclear how, he managed to board the high-security Samjhauta Express, and once he got to Pakistan, he was detained because he had neither a visa nor any documents to prove who he was.

It’s hard to believe how smoothly things were going for him back in 2004. A bright student, Bhavesh had graduated from NIIT and landed himself a decent job. He lived with his family in Vile Parle, and like many parents of 24-year-old boys, his were on the look-out for a suitable bride.

Then his father lost a prolonged battle against cancer. “He was very close to his father, and after his death he went into depression,” Hansa told Mumbai Mirror. “He had not only lost his father but a friend as well. After that he also lost his job. The family fell into financial trouble and he blamed himself for not being able to look after us.”

Hansa had gone to her maternal home to perform some rituals when the next tragedy struck.

She got a call from her neighbours saying that Bhavesh had not returned home for a few weeks. Hansa returned immediately and when she couldn’t find him anywhere, registered a missing complaint with the police. “Some people told me he must’ve died or committed suicide, others said he had run away. I didn’t know what to do so I decided to wait,” she said.

She waited four years before she heard about her son: the good news was Bhavesh was alive; the bad news that he was in jail in Pakistan, and that getting him back would not be easy.

“In October 2008, officers from the Mumbai Police special branch came looking for me. They told me my son was being held in Kot Lakpath jail in Lahore,” Hansa said. “The cops also told me that he was mentally unstable, and that all he did was mutter the name of his college and call out for his mother. The police got my address from his college records,” Hansa said.

With this information in hand, she started the long battle to get her son released. She wrote to the Home Ministry and to the Ministry of External Affairs pleading with them to get her son back.

A few months later, there came another glimmer of hope. In July 2009, she got a letter from the Indian High Commission in Pakistan confirming that her son was indeed lodged in one of their jails.

The letter also stated that a team from the High Commission had met him, and that they had confirmed his nationality status to the government of Pakistan. The letter said that they were in touch with the Pakistani government and were seeking Bhavesh’s release and repatriation to India at the earliest.

Once again, Hansa was left with nothing else to do but wait; this time, for another two-and-a-half years (more painful, considering she knew where her son was but could do nothing to help him).

Out of the blue, on February 24 this year, she got a call – not from a police station or an embassy, as she had been expecting. It was from a man called Ram Rajji, Bhavesh’s fellow prisoner who had returned to India bearing a letter from her son.

Unlike Bhavesh, Rajji was the victim of a con. In 2004, an agent in Amritsar had told him he had arranged a job for him in Lahore, and that he would meet his point-of-contact when he reached that city. There was no one waiting for him and Rajji found himself in jail. He was released in February this year as part of a group of 19 Indian prisoners who were sent back home.

When Mumbai Mirror contacted Rajji, he said that Bhavesh seldom spoke about his home or his family. “For many years, he was very quiet. He used to break into tears when he remembered things from his past but at most times he recalled nothing. On the day I was getting released, he pushed a piece of paper in my hand and told me to give it to his mother. He also asked me to click a photograph of his and show it to his mother as proof that he was alive.”

Rajji was taken aback, mainly because of how quiet Bhavesh had been until then. “But I was moved by his sudden emotional outburst. I promised him that I would personally meet his mother and tell her that her son was alive.”

After receiving the letter, Hansa once again approached the authorities. Vile Parle (East) MLA Krishna Hegde, who is helping Hansa out, said, “I have written to the Ministry of External affairs explaining the situation. We are now waiting for their reply.”

For Hansa, the letter has brought with it fresh strength to fight. “For the first time in eight years my son remembered me. He scribbled his address on a piece of paper, he gave Rajji a message for me.”

And what was the message? “He said he wants to come back home.”

One-sided deal: Hospitals get but don’t give back


Hospital, Bandra

Hospital, Bandra (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Grants, concessions and exemptions given to the hospitals far exceed the cost of free treatment they are asked to carry out

Jyoti Shelar and Lata Mishra, in Mumbaimirror

Posted On Thursday, April 26, 2012

The death of accident victim Reena Kutekar, whose husband Ram desperately hunted for a hospital that would save her life, has brought into focus how badly poor patients are treated in private medical facilities across the city.

Reena was first taken to Vile Parle’s Nanavati Hospital, where the authorities refused to take her into the ICU because Ram could not furnish the Rs 25,000 required for admission.

The story in most other hospitals in the city is alarmingly similar: though they are required by law to treat a certain number of economically backward patients, most people come away empty handed in their time of need.

The contention of the hospitals - from Jaslok to Breach Candy, from Lilavati to Hinduja - is that taking care of poor patients is a huge burden on them, and that they are asked to provide free treatment for nothing in return.

What these hospitals fail to reveal, however, is that the grants and concessions they are given by the government far exceed the cost of free treatment they are being asked to carry out. Running as charitable public trusts, their list of unaccounted-for exemptions is staggering:

1. Cheap land

If any charitable trust wants government land to build a hospital, it is charged only one-tenth of the market value in the island city, and one-twentieth of the market value in the suburbs. If the land is on lease, the price can be as low as Re 1 per square foot per year.

“Several facilities, such as Jaslok, Hinduja and Bombay Hospital, are on government land given to them on a Re 1 lease. Now they’re earning crores annually but still make excuses when it comes to treating poor patients,” said advocate Sanjeev Punalekar, who had filed a PIL on the issue in 2004.

2. Extra FSI

While the rest of the city’s commercial establishments have to make do with an Floor Space Index of 1.33 to 2, public trust hospitals get an additional FSI of up to 5.32 in the island city and up to 5 in the suburbs.

The FSI determines the height of the structure, which in turn translates into more room for patients, and more business. But the taller hospitals have hardly been of help to poor patients.

“The additional FSI and all other rebates come from the government. The rest of the money comes from patients. Ultimately, it is the government and public money that adds up to the surplus funds of hospitals,” said health activist Leni Chaudhary. “Then why not ensure that poor patients get treated?”

When contacted, Dr Pramod Lele, the CEO of the Mahim’s Hinduja Hospital, admitted that additional FSI proved beneficial in increasing the hospital’s “bed- strength”, but contented that they were asked to pay a premium for it. Not the best argument considering the demand-supply ratio of hospital rooms guarantees that this money is easily recovered.

3. Income Tax rebate

The exact rate of exemption varies from hospital to hospital, depending on how much money it makes. On average, however, 85 per cent of a public trust hospital’s income is exempt from tax. Even the remaining 15 per cent can be set aside as a corpus fund, ensuring that most hospitals have to pay no tax at all. The only catch is that anything accumulated above this 15 per cent in their account is taxable. Hospitals registered as research institutes are given similar concessions.

4. No Octroi

While Octroi rates in Maharashtra are inordinately high, hospitals are exempted from any additional tax for transporting equipment and machinery. In 2003, the BMC withdrew Octroi exemption from a few hospitals for not doing enough charity work. When contacted, a senior doctor from Lilavati hospital agreed that there had been several complaints made to the Charity Commissioner about norms being flouted, which had resulted in some rebates being pulled back for certain hospitals.

5. Duty free

All public trust hospitals are exempted from customs duty on imported machinery and medical equipment, as opposed to 10 per cent for all non-public-trust hospitals. When contacted, Customs officials said machinery and medicines from abroad were one of the most common items brought into the country. “As per the law, we clear them immediately,” an officer said.

6. Cheap Medicines

Hospitals procure generic drugs at nominal costs, and several medicines which are made available by the government under various programmes such as Tuberculosis and Malaria eradication are given to them at a fraction of the cost. However, health experts point out, that these drugs are then sold to patients at the market rate.

7. Low water and electricity rates

Despite being commercial establishments, hospitals are charged residential tariffs for water and electricity, which in itself is a huge benefit. The Residential rate for water per 1,000 litres, for example, is Rs 2.25 as opposed to Rs 38 for commercial use.

 What hospitals are supposed to do 

According to a Supreme Court judgment, charitable hospitals must admit a patient brought in an emergency and provide “essential medical facilities” until stabilisation. Transportation to a public hospital should be arranged, if necessary, and no deposit should be asked for.

Each hospital has to transfer 2 per cent of its income to an Indigent Patients Fund (IPF). The hospital has to reserve 10% of its beds for indigent patients (annual income less than Rs 25,000) who should be given free treatment.

A further 10% of its should be reserved for economically weak patients (annual income less than Rs 50,000) who should be treated at concessional rates. At the time of admission, all a patient has to provide is a certificate from the Tehsildar or a ration card or BPL card.

Immediate Release-Rationalist under threat of arrest for exposing the “miracle” #FOE


‘FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION UNDER ATTACK’

Sanal Edamaruku, well known rationalist,  under    threat  of arrest for exposing the  “miracle”

On 10th March, Sanal Edamaruku, President of the Rationalist International,   flew to Mumbai. The TV channel  , TV-9  had    invited him to investigate a “miracle” that caused local excitement. He went with the TV team to Irla in Vile Parle to inspect the crucifix standing there in front of the Church of Our Lady of Velankanni. This crucifix had become the centre of attraction for an ever growing crowd of believers coming from far and wide. The news of the miracle spread like wild fire. For some days, there were little droplets of water trickling from Jesus’ feet. Hundreds of people came every day to pray and collect some of the “holy water” in bottles and vessels.

Sanal Edamaruku identified the source of the water (a drainage near a washing room) and the mechanism how it reached Jesus feet (capillary action). The local church leaders, present during his investigation, appeared to be  displeased.  See the
investigation in detail on YouTube.hours later, in a live program on TV-9, Sanal explained his findings and accused the
concerned  Catholic Church officials  of miracle mongering, as they were beating the big drum for the drippling Jesus statue with
aggressive PR measures and by distributing photographs certifying the “miracle”

A heated debate began, in which the five church people, among them Fr. Augustine Palett, the priest of Our Lady of Velankanni
church, and representatives of the Association of Concerned Catholics (AOCC) demanded that Sanal apologize. But Sanal refused  and argued against them. [The whole TV program is recorded. You can watch an abridged version of it on
YouTube.]

When  they saw Sanal  refused to bow to their demands, they  threatened to file a blasphemy case against him. And they did. On  (10th April,2012, Sanal received a  phone call from a Police official  of Juhu Police Station in Mumbai directing him to come to the said police station to face the charges and get arrested. He also said that FIRs have also been filed in Andheri  and some other police stations u/s 295 of Indian Penal Code on the allegations of hurting the religious sentiments of a particular community.

Mumbai police  has announced that they were out to arrest him.   It is apprehended  that  he  can be arrested any moment.
The filing of FIRs by Mumbai police and threatening to arrest a well known rationalist who has been exposing miracles and superstitious beliefs  for more than  three decades is a serious attack on the freedom of expression.

Clause (h) of Article 51-A of  Constitution of India states that :‘It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to develop the scientific temper, humanism and spirit of inquiry and reform.’In exposing the said miracle, Sanal was performing  his fundamental duty enshrined in our constitution.It is distressing that the Mumbai police has chosen to harass and victimize him for doing his fundamental  duty.

‘Sanal Edamaruku Defence Committee’ appeals to all progressive individuals and  organizations  to protest and oppose the reprehensible steps of the Maharashtra police in filing FIRs against Sanal and stand behind him in solidarity for the cause of  scientific thinking and freedom of expression.

N.D.Pancholi     11 April, 2012
Convenor,                                     Sanal Edamaruku Defence Committee, “www.rationalistinternational.net.”