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12 Jun 2012

It is extremely surprising that Qateel Siddiqui, one of the main suspects in German bakery case, was killed in the high security cell of Yerwada Jail. Qateel was under the custody of Maharashtra Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) since May 3 after being handed over by Delhi Police. Delhi Police Special Cell had arrested him on November 22, 2011. His remand was to get over the day he was found murdered in the jail. The police/jail administration has attributed his killing to some dispute with fellow inmates. Given that he was a high security prisoner accused and wanted in bomb blast cases, this story of his murder by two jail inmates seems highly implausible and fabricated.

 That there have been and are many cases of Muslim youths being falsely framed in terrorist cases cannot be ignored, the latest case being of Fasih Mehmood whose whereabouts are not known since May 13 when he was allegedly taken away by Indian intelligence agencies in the presence of Saudi police from his home in Jubail, Saudi Arabia. Maharashtra ATS is known for its notoriety in forging cases and implicating youths from minority community. Qateel’s murder in custody raises many serious questions about the functioning Anti-terrorist Squads and the vulnerability of political prisoners in custody. In such cases, there is invariably a chain of long periods of detention without being charged allowed by laws like UAPA, of multiple cases  and shifting remand from one police agency to another, the threat of violence within the jail (torture/ violence by other inmates) becomes much greater for those accused of terrorist or unlawful activity. The chance of justice for them and for those implicated by their ‘confessions' is easily denied. 

 Qateel’s murder exemplify this for his guilt was still not proven, no charge sheet was filed despite his being in police and judicial custody for more than seven months. It is now highly unlikely that Qateel’s side of story will ever come out. PUDR sees Qateel’s murder as part of a long and vicious circle of demonization of Muslims, the increasing communalization of State apparatus and the rising reliance and use of repressive laws like UAPA.

PUDR strongly condemns the murder of Qateel Siddiqui and demands the role of Maharashtra ATS to be specifically probed in this regard. It is necessary to fix responsibility for this and other such acts and exemplary punishment be used as a deterrent to the lawlessness of law enforcing agencies.

Paramjeet Singh and Preeti Chauhan