The death of Uttar Pradesh terror accused Khalid Mujahid in police custody on Saturday is bound to revive questions on the circumstances of his arrest along with co-accused Tariq Qasmi.
At a press conference on December 22, 2007, the State Special Task Force presented the two as the main accused in the November 23, 2007 serial blasts in the district courts of Lucknow, Varanasi and Faizabad, in which 14 persons were killed and many injured. The families of Khalid and Tariq, backed by human rights groups, challenged the police version of the arrests. With the protests gathering strength, the Mayawati government, in March 2008, constituted the R.D. Nimesh Commission to probe the police claim. The Commission submitted its report to Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on August 31, 2012. However, the Samajwadi Party government has maintained that it has no idea of the status and location of the report.
According to sources, the Commission described the picking up of Tariq and Khalid as an “unlawful activity” and recommended punishment to officials involved in “detaining and torturing” them. The Commission, which heard over 100 witnesses, is reported to have concluded that the two were not arrested on December 22 from Barabanki as claimed by the STF but had been picked up several days earlier — Tariq, a Unani practitioner, from the Shankarpur checkpost near Sarai Meer in Azamgarh “by some people in a Tata Sumo” on December 12 and Khalid, a teacher, in the same manner from Mariyahu in Jaunpur on December 16. Both were taken to different locations and tortured, the Commission is reported to have said, censuring the Azamgarh and Jaunpur police for not taking cognisance of complaints and FIRs on the “forcible capture of Qasmi and Mujahid by people in Tata Sumo.”
The Commission is said to have recommended appointment of non-police gazetted officers as witnesses of recoveries as a safeguard against falsification of records; disposal of terror cases within two years and action against officials for delays beyond this period; investigation of cases by gazetted officers different from those making the arrests and videorecording of interrogation.