Abrar Ahmad, the sole approver in the 2006 Malegaon bomb blasts case, was released in 2011, after five years in jail. In an exclusive interview with THE WEEK, his first since then, he tells a damning story of the shadowy investigation, allurement and intimidation. Excerpts:
How long did you work for the ATS?
I never worked for the ATS. I was caught in a situation where I found myself at the mercy of the ATS officers. I was forced to implicate innocent people into the terrorism cases. I destroyed a number of lives. I am ashamed of myself. I became a toy in the hands of the ATS. They misled the investigation.
You were the ATS's approver in the 2006 Malegaon bomb blast case. Who did the crime?
I don't know who carried out the bomb blasts. All I know is that after the series of bomb blasts in Malegaon on September 8, 2006, I visited the Medicare Hospital. While I was coming out of the hospital I heard some people talking in a room about the bomb blasts. Someone was praising the bombers and was saying that our people did the bomb blasts. He mentioned the names of some Rajinder Amin, Bipin Parik and some Patel.
Did you see those men?
No, I didn't see anyone. I immediately left the hospital. I spoke to my brother-in-law, Farooq Wardha [allegedly a police informer in Bhiwandi, Thane], about what I heard at the hospital. A day later, he came from Bhiwandi and told me not to speak about it to anyone. Five days later, I was picked up by the police and taken to the superintendent of police of Malegaon, Rajwardhan. He took me to Nashik. A few days later, he told me that some local newspapers had carried news reports that I was a police informer so it would be dangerous for me to visit Malegaon. Then my wife [Jannatunissa] and I were taken to Jaora, Madhya Pradesh. After a brief stay there we were taken to Indore and then Ujjain. During that time we were kept in guest houses and different temples. Rajwardhan had placed a cop for my security. His name was Arun. Arun later introduced me to Pragya Singh Takhur in a temple in Dewas. There were a number of people with her. Later I met her in Byculla prison. We were in the same prison. Then I was taken to Saputara [in Gujarat] and then to Deolali, where I was introduced to Lt-Col Purohit.
Where did you meet Purohit?
I met Purohit on October 22, 2006 in Deolali. I remember it was an old building. He was sitting at a table. He told me that whatever promise the ATS had made to me would be fulfilled. He said, 'You will be given land and property anywhere in India except Kashmir.' I don't know whether the building where I met him was in a military cantonment, but there were some other people in uniform.
You appeared in court in 2006. Why didn't you tell the court all these details?
My brother [lawyer Jalil Ahmed] had filed a complaint against the police that they had kidnapped me and my wife. The cops threatened me not to disclose anything, otherwise my family would be killed. [After appearing in court] I was taken to the ATS office in Byculla. I was first taken to the office of Subodh Jaiswal [then additional commissioner of police; now joint secretary at cabinet secretariat]. He told me that I didn't need to worry about the news reports about me. Then I was taken to the office of K.P. Raghuvanshi [then chief of ATS; now Thane police commissioner]. He put ∃5 lakh in front of me and said that it was my money. He said if I wouldn't take it my brother-in-law Farooq would get it. Meanwhile, Rajwardhan brought Farooq, and he was given that money. After that, the cops took me to Nashik, where I was kept at Muktidham temple. Inside the temple some people were making a video film of all those who were present there and I was not comfortable getting filmed. Later, on December 13, 2006, I was taken to Bhiwandi and we stayed there. I met Farooq at the ATS office in Kalachowki the next day. He told me that the ATS had kept their promises. They had given us all the promised money. But I was shocked when he and my wife left me at the ATS office. After they left, the cops suddenly started thrashing me. I realised that they had got all the money and they played a double game with me. I was produced in court on December 22, 2006 as an approver in the Malegaon case.
You are saying that an ATS officer gave money to Farooq?
He was given ∃25 lakh and plots and a flat.
During the trial you alleged that some ATS cops met you in jail?
Yes, some ATS officers visited me. I also received some money orders from the ATS while I was in Byculla prison. It was a kind of pocket money. The ATS's Sachin Kadam, Mahesh Kadam and Sadashiv Abhimanyu Patil used to send me the money order.
Is there any proof that you received money from the ATS inside the Byculla prison?
Yes, there is an RTI [filed by his lawyer, but that reveals only the name of Patil, a constable at the Nashik unit of the ATS].
How long did you receive money orders from the ATS?
In 2009 the ATS stopped sending me money because they realised that I was not going to follow their line. My brother had convinced me that if I didn't stop meeting the ATS cops my life would be in more trouble. After that I approached a court and the ATS cops were subsequently prevented from visiting me in prison.
You implicated 11 men in the bomb blasts. When did you first meet them?
I met them for the first time in a police van when we all were taken to the court. There was a person called Shabir Ahmed. I asked him how he was. He got very angry and said, 'You implicated us and now you are saying salam!'.
After your release in 2011 has anyone from the ATS met or threatened you?
No one from the police or the ATS met me after my release.