11/7 convicts were respected in jail, activist Arun Ferreira testifies in court

Sep 22, 2015, 07:02 IST | Sailee Dhayalkar

Yesterday, the defence called activist Arun Ferreira to testify on behalf of the train blasts convicts, whom he had met at Nagpur Central Jail; he was held there for over 4 years on suspicions of being a Maoist sympathiser

After the defence called 13/7 Mumbai blasts accused Nadeem Akhtar to testify on behalf of the accused in the 11/7 train blasts case, yesterday it was the turn of activist Arun Ferreira, who had met 10 out of the 12 convicts at Nagpur Central Jail, where he was held for nearly five years on suspicions of being a Naxal sympathiser.

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Activist Arun Ferreira said he knew ten out of the 12 convicts in the 11/7 train blasts case from time shared in Nagpur Central Jail
Activist Arun Ferreira said he knew ten out of the 12 convicts in the 11/7 train blasts case from time shared in Nagpur Central Jail

Ferreira told the court he knew Kamal Ahamed Ansari, Tanvir Ahmed Ansari, Mohammad Majid Shafi, Shaikh Alam Shaikh, Mohd Sajid Ansari, Muzzammil Shaikh, Soheil Mehmood Shaikh, Zamir Ahmad Shaikh, Naveed Khan and Asif Khan. He said he also knew what they had been charged with.

“I met them at Nagpur Central prison. I had been arrested in 2007 under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act,” he said, adding, “I had a total of 11 cases against me and I was acquitted from all of them. I was in jail for four years and eight months.”

Ferreira told court that he personally knows Sajid, Majid and Muzzammil, as they were together in the Phasi yard. While he was cross-examined by Special Public Prosecutor Raja Thakare, he also said, “Sajid’s brother had approached me to depose in court.”

“Sajid was a soft spoken person in jail and always helped jail authorities to solve problems as well. Majid is an emotional person. If an accused was sentenced to death, he would console him and give him hope that he would be released. Muzzammil would read his chargesheet and make points and to prepare his defence,” Ferreira stated.

During his deposition, he recalled the first time he met the blasts convicts. “In June 2008, when they (11/7 accused) were transferred from Mumbai to Nagpur, they had bruises on their back. When they came to Nagpur jail, they were respected by many inmates as they would help others with court work or drafting letters,” he said.

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He also informed the court about his own prison term and his profession, explaining that he had completed th B.Sc and LLB degrees and is a writer and cartoonist. During cross-examination, he told the court, “I was out in January 2012.

I was arrested and charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and Sections 302 (murder) and 307 (attempt to murder) of the IPC. There were allegations against me regarding Maoist activities.” The prosecution then asked him whether he was deposing in the case because of Maoist ideology, and Ferreira said only, “This is not true.”

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