Hyderabad: In perhaps the first instance of victims of police torture in a terror case being paid compensation in India, Andhra Pradesh has released Rs 7 million for innocent Muslim youths arrested and tortured in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast case. A day after Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy announced in the state assembly that the compensation would be paid, the minorities welfare department on Tuesday issued an order releasing the amount.
According to officials, out of 70 victims identified, 20 would be paid Rs 300,000 each while others would get Rs 20,000. The government released the compensation amount on the recommendations of the National Minorities Commission, which also asked the government to consider deducting the amount from the salaries of erring police officials.
Though the commission had made several recommendations over a year ago, the government had not acted on them. National Minorities Commission chairman Wajahat Habibullah had also written a letter to the chief minister in August, asking him to take action on the recommendations, which also include legal action against the police officers involved in arrest and torture of innocent youths, rehabilitation of victims by providing employment commensurate with their qualifications and issuing good conduct certificates to all those acquitted in the case.
Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) and other Muslim groups had been demanding that the government pay compensation. MIM leader in the assembly Akbaruddin Owaisi raised the issue in the assembly during the debate on the no-confidence motion Monday. The chief minister, during his reply to the debate, announced that the orders for payment of compensation would be released.
MIM, which has seven members in the 295-member assembly, opposed the Telugu Desam Party's (TDP) no-confidence motion, helping the Congress government defeat the motion.
Nine people were killed in the blast during Friday prayers at the historic Mecca Masjid May 18, 2007. Five more people were killed in the subsequent police firing on protesters outside the mosque. Following the blast, the police arrested dozens of Muslims youths and filed cases against them. A fact-finding committee of the state minorities commission, in its report, said the police tortured the youths.
The arrested youths were acquitted by the courts during the last one year.
Last year, following the arrest of activists of right-wing Hindu groups for involvement in the mosque blast, the chief minister offered to tender an apology to all the Muslim youths who were 'illegally' detained.