Double betrayal

Print edition : May 27, 2016

Abrar Ahmed. His is the most curious case of them all. Photo: Anupama Katakam

THIRTY-ONE-YEAR-OLD Abrar Ahmed, soft-spoken and mild-mannered, does not seem like a firebrand of any sort. He was one of the key accused in the case. Ahmed is an electrician and also a real estate businessman. Ahmed, who was reportedly a police informer before the blasts, turned approver in the case after his arrest. A few days after his acquittal, he spoke to Frontline at his Malegaon residence, narrating slowly and carefully the interesting and disturbing story of what happened to him after the bombings. Sources in Malegaon say Ahmed was a known police informant who ended up being used as a scapegoat. His case is a curious one. For those who follow the case, most of his account matches information out in the public domain. Here is what he told this correspondent:

“When I heard of the blast, I went to help the victims and take them to hospital. At the hospital I overhead two doctors say ‘our people exploded this bomb’. We were at the Farhan Hospital, and there is a record of my giving blood at that time. I did not know what to do with this information and felt I had to tell someone. My wife’s brother, Farookh Wardha, was at home and I told him. He told me not to tell anyone. Five days later, the police came home and said I should come with them to give my testimony. They would bring me back soon after.

I went with them. It would take two years before I saw my family again. The police took me to Jagtap Colony in Nashik. My wife, Janat Unisa, and Wardha joined me there.

We waited for an entire day to meet the judge, but it did not happen. When I asked to be allowed to go home, Rajvardhan [S.P., Malegaon] told me some local papers had carried reports that I was a police informer and it would be dangerous to go back. The three of us were taken by road to Jaora in Madhya Pradesh. From there we were taken to Indore and then Ujjain. A policeman called Arun Bhog accompanied us through the journey. We were kept at guest houses and made to visit some temples. I could not understand what they were doing. Then one day I was taken to a temple in Dewas, where I met Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur. She told me: ‘Give Rajvardhan your support and we will give you anything.’ Then I was taken back to Nashik and kept there for at least 10 days. They took me to Mumbai, saying I had to depose before a judge. The police told me if I didn’t agree my family would face the consequences—We will shoot them (‘goli marenge’), they said. I was scared and told the court that I had gone voluntarily to Indore and Ujjain. Once again I was put on the road and taken to Deolali, where I met Col. Purohit, who also asked me to cooperate with the police. Rajvardhan was with me then. I was brought back to Mumbai’s Chandan Chowki in Juhu. Here they tortured me severely —kept beating me and telling me to identify people in some photographs. These people would be charged for the blasts. My nails fell out because of the torture, I got fever and was finally taken to hospital. When I told the doctors they told me to approach the Mumbai police. I was taken to meet a police officer, Brijesh Singh, who told me to wait for a few days to meet the judge who would decide whether to let me go.

After another medical [examination], I was told I was going to a ‘big house’. This was Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai. I spent 18 hours in this jail and then was taken to another court. Here I fainted from the exhaustion. I woke up in ward 46 of the Byculla Jail. This would be my home for a while.

Rajvardhan came to meet me and again I was told to cooperate. I was scared they would kill my brothers and signed whatever confession they wanted me to.

It was around this time that Wardha and my wife told me they had sold me out to the ATS. They said the police had given them Rs.25 lakh and immovable property to bring me in. Janat Unisa even gave the police a photograph of me meeting the Sadhvi in the temple. I felt deeply betrayed.

Strangely I bumped in to the Sadhvi at the Byculla Jail and she told me: ‘Abrar stay away from me or you will be in trouble.’

After Karkare’s investigation, we knew we had some hope. I had finally contacted my family and even though my letters were censored I was able to keep in touch. My older brother and lawyer, Jaleel Ansari, helped in the case. I have a lot more to say but will save it for another day.”

Anupama Katakam