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#India – ‘I asked if it were a crime to be a Muslim? Crime Branch said yes’ #WTFnews

Peer Mohideen (39) was one of the three main-accused in the Bengaluru office blast case. Six months following his arrest, Mohideen was released on 29 October after the Karnataka failed to produce any evidence against him in court. Mohideen tells Imran Khan that even though the had no evidence against him, his refusal to become an approver in the case led to his incarceration in jail

Imran Khan, Tehelka

2013-10-30

Blast-Bangalore-News-PhotosBlast site near the office of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)

How did you land in this case?
I hail from Melapalyam district of Tamil Nadu. I have lived in Bengaluru for the past seven years and sell tealeaves at Tannery Road area of the city. I was arrested from Chennai on 18 April, the day after the blast. I was shopping for my sister’s marriage when policemen in plain clothes arrested my brother-in-law Basheer and me. We were grilled till late midnight, and then handed over to the Karnataka police. On 19 April, we were produced before the magistrate’s court in Bengaluru. It was then that I realised that I was being framed in the BJP office blast case. Until then the police just kept asking me if I knew Panna Ismail, which I denied. I have never met him. It was later that I learnt that my brother-in-law’s SIM card was with Ismail and I’d called on that number. That’s how I was trapped in this case.

Peer Mohideen

You were in Karnataka police’s custody for a month. What happened in that one month?
It was the worst period of my life. I went through much mental agony. Had I stayed there for another 15 days, I would have had a mental break down. Our hands and feet were chained when we were brought to Bengaluru from Chennai. Karnataka police wanted me to accept my involvement in the blast. When I refused, they wanted me to identify Panna Ismail at least. After three days, they said because they have nothing against me they would release me in exchange for a favour. They wanted me to testify before the magistrate that Panna Ismail came in a bike and left a green polythene bag at my place. I refused immediately saying that I live in an area where around 10,000 people from Melapalyam live. If I were to accept any involvement in the case, nobody would give a house to our people and everybody would look at us with suspicion.

Were you tortured at any point of time?
Though I suffered very less physical abuse, I was mentally agonised a lot. At one point, out of sheer desperation, I asked if it were a crime to be a ? Officials of the City said yes it is, and that I should leave for Pakistan.

How did you pass your time in the cell?
We were all pressed into a tiny 20×20-feet room. Initially, all the eleven accused were in the same room. Later, they shifted five others to another cell. We were never allowed out of our cell. So for most of us prayers, reading and sleeping were the only activities in the cell.

What are you planning to do next?
I am clueless at the moment. I had invested around Rs 10 lakh in my business. That money is gone. I am not even sure whether I will continue to live in Bengaluru or move to my native place. I am happy that I am free.

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