Despite the enthusiasm shown by police for narco analysis tests to investigate complex crimes, courts have always been circumspect about them

The sensational turnaround of the 2007 Mecca Masjid bomb blast case investigations has punctured another hole into the veracity of narco analysis tests.

Despite the enthusiasm shown by police for these tests to investigate complex crimes, the courts have always been circumspect.

After the blast that killed 14 persons, including five in subsequent police firing on a riotous mob on May 18, the Hyderabad Police had picked up several Muslim youths for interrogation, besides booking six based on narco test reports. Three years later, first the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and later the National Investigating Agency (NIA) had confirmed the involvement of as many as nine right wing activists.

Before that police conducted narco analysis tests on Ibrahim Ali Junaid, Sheik Abdul Kaleem, Imran, Majid, Kareem and Arshad, all residents of Hyderabad, at the Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospital, Bangalore, to establish their role in the blast.

A perusal of one of the reports (scanned copy available) filed after the test was done on Kaleem, unambiguously indicates that he had ‘confessed’ to his involvement in the crime.

In fact, the Madivala Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL), in a communication to the Joint Commissioner of Police, Special Investigation Cell (SIC) on September 21, 2007, stated that Kaleem had appeared to be concealing some relevant information with regard to a suspected case of terrorist activity in Mecca Masjid, during the polygraph examination.

He was also subjected to narco analysis test at the Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospital, where Kaleem in “a state of trance” was reported to have given a detailed description of his accomplices fabricating bombs and they fleeing to Pakistan or Bangladesh. He also mentions Salim Bhardhwa, another accomplice, and the role of an ISI agent, Salim, who was supposed to be a friend of Shahid Bilal (reportedly killed in a Karachi shoot-out).

Dr. S. Malini, Assistant Director, Forensic Psychology Division, FSL, Madivala, had signed the letter.

Ibrahim Ali Junaid, then a Unani medicine student, too was subjected to the test.

When contacted, Dr. Junaid claimed that he was subjected to the test for a week in Bangalore by a six-member team, and that each test lasted 90 minutes. After he was acquitted by the court, Dr. Junaid opened a clinic in Gulshan Iqbal Colony in Hafeezbaba Nagar. Debunking the test results a few years later and rather stunningly, the CBI and the NIA have come to the conclusion that the perpetrators of the blast were of a different colour.

The CBI had first arrested Devender Gupta and Lokesh Sharma in June 2010, and five months later Swami Aseemanand alias Naba Kumar too was held. Interestingly, the six of the Hyderabadi suspects were acquitted in the case, and the Andhra Pradesh Government had paid compensation to them also.

The NIA, which took up the case in 2011, had named six others in the blast: Sandeep V. Dange, Ramachandra Kalsangra, Sunil Joshi, Bharat Mohanlal Rateswar, Rajendra Chaudhary and Tejaram. While Sandeep Dange and Ramachandra Kalsangra are still absconding, Sunil Joshi is no more. So, where does this leave the status of narco analysis tests?

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