Suspected Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) operative and key 26/11 handler Abu Jundal has written a letter to the Chief Justice of India (CJI) alleging that police are bullying him to tender a confessional statement before the Magistrate. However, Mumbai police’s Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) says this is a typical ploy adopted by arrested terrorists, and insists it is following lawful procedures.
Written on Friday, Jundal’s letter (a copy of which is with MiD DAY) is also addressed to Chief Justice of Bombay High Court Mohit Shah. “Police officers have put mental pressure on me by threatening to frame me in multiple false cases,” Jundal said in his correspondence. The complaint names a handful of senior ATS officers, including inspector Dinesh Kadam and joint CP (ATS) Rakesh Maria.
Jundal, writing under his real name Zabiuddin Ansari, claimed he was produced at Esplanade Court on either August 10 or August 12 last year for no reason. He says he was taken inside the chambers of a Magistrate, who was talking to plainclothes ATS officers. Three court karkoons (clerks) were also present.
They were browsing through a document, which they had downloaded from a red-coloured pen drive. “They showed several pages of printed documents to Maria, Kadam and two other officers. The Judicial Magistrate asked the officers, whether [my] signatures were available on blank papers, and then asked them to send me back to jail,” the accused alleged.
According to Jundal, the Magistrate then quipped, “Pata nahi kahan-kahan se aa jate hain... isko Qasab-wale barracks mein rakho taaki baat bahar na jaaye (Who knows where these people come from. Put him in Qasab’s barracks so word doesn’t spread).
Jundal now fears that the blank papers with his signature might be misused to procure his confessional statement. He has urged the superior courts to conduct an inquiry in the matter. On Friday, the MCOCA Special Court framed charges against Jundal in the Aurangabad arms haul case. Speaking to MiD DAY, the accused’s lawyer Ejaz Naqvi said, “The Special Court permitted Jundal to send the letter to the Chief Justice of India and the Chief Justice of Bombay High Court to redress his grievances.”
What is a 164 statement?
Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code grants any Metropolitan Magistrate exclusive powers to record confessions. They cannot be recorded by police officers. The Magistrate must explain to the accused that he is not bound to make any statement, as it can be used as evidence against him. The confession has to be made voluntarily. If, while recording, the accused decides not to confess, he can no longer be detained in police custody.
‘Doesn’t surprise us’
When contacted, Rakesh Maria said, “This is a typical Al-Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Toiba strategy, to make such allegations. It does not surprise us at all as this modus operandi is used by all arrested terrorists today. The ATS has followed all rules and procedures during investigations and will answer all these baseless and concocted allegations in Court.”