He is a key prosecution witness in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case. He has been missing for nearly four years now. And the CBI, after investigating his disappearance, is set to chargesheet officers of the Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad (ATS), the very agency that considered him its key witness. The case of Dilip Devisingh Patidar is a window to the scary, shadowy world of terror investigations, where the usual dubious practices of police—such as coercion, pitting suspects against one another, forced confessions, and especially illegal detention—are used with impunity. Such methods come under blazing light only when things go wrong, as they seem to have in Patidar’s case.
The Malegaon 2008 blasts took place on September 29, leaving six people dead and 101 injured. The Maharashtra ATS homed in on some Hindutva groups, and on November 1 that year came to search the house of Shivnarayan Kalsangra, a suspect now under arrest, in Indore. (His brother Ramnarayan, one of the main accused, is still absconding.) This was when the ATS first came in touch with Patidar, the Kalsangras’ neighbour. Obtaining the house keys from Patidar, the ATS conducted the search in his presence. Then, on the night of November 10, the ATS is said to have picked up Patidar, then 26 years old, from Indore after allegedly uncovering his cellphone links with Kalsangra and other suspects. From November 11 to 18, the ATS is said to have questioned him at its Mumbai offices. But inexplicably, he was said to have been allowed to go to Indore on November 18 to collect his ID proof to enable him to record a statement before a magistrate. The last Patidar’s family heard from him was on November 20, when he called Alkesh Solia, a cousin.
After vain attempts to file missing complaints with the Khajrana police station in Indore, Patidar’s family members filed a habeas corpus petition with the Indore bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court. It was admitted on November 24, and the court asked a joint team of the ATS and Indore police to locate Patidar. Filing a report on behalf of the joint team on February 24, 2010, the Indore police told the court Patidar was not in the custody of any investigating agency—he was in hiding.
When Patidar could not be located for nearly eight months, the court ordered the CBI to take up investigations on October 1, 2010. Over the last 21 months, the CBI has filed seven status reports with the court. For now, the Madhya Pradesh High Court has closed the case, in the expectation that the CBI will soon obtain clearance to prosecute the ATS officers its status reports have damned.
Here are some of the CBI’s findings from its status reports, which Outlook has access to. These findings, based on the scrutiny of ATS and Madhya Pradesh police documents and examination of some 60 witnesses, question the methods adopted by the ATS’s officers:
Detention illegal: The CBI’s status report of July 11, 2011, says, “...Patidar was taken by the ATS Mumbai team on the intervening night of 10-11 November 2008 from his residence and they detained him in illegal custody even till 20 November 2008...their procedure of taking him away was not as per the legal provisions. No notice or summons was issued. Neither any written willingness of Patidar obtained by the ATS. Patidar was kept in wrongful confinement till 20 November 2008, when the last phone call was received by his cousin.”
Patidar was scared: His cousin Solia told the CBI that Patidar sounded “unnatural”, “frightened” and “under pressure” in his November 20 call. He said “he was in the custody of the ATS and would be released in a day or two”.
Unusual release: The CBI says it’s difficult to believe two claims of the ATS: a) that Patidar, when he was being questioned in Mumbai, was allowed to visit his friend’s house and hence wasn’t illegally detained; b) that Patidar was allowed to go and collect his ID proof from Indore. There’s no address or contact number of the so-called friend. And a man “lifted from his residence” is unlikely to be allowed to leave on his own.
Discrepancies in movement reports: Patidar apparently “attended” the ATS’s unit in Vikhroli, Mumbai, on a couple of days, but there’s no reflection of these movements in the diary notings of the ATS’s Kalachowky unit, where he was originally kept. His movements on some other days, however, are noted. As police officers will admit off the record, not making proper diary entries, or faking them, is not unusual in the interrogation of suspects detained illegally.
One call a day: The ATS claimed Patidar was in constant touch with his friends and relatives, and therefore, was not in illegal detention. The CBI doubts this, saying, “There’s one peculiarity...he has made only one call on some days while in ATS custody. No other phone calls were made or received during this period of custody (November 11-20, 2008).” Clearly, the ATS was allowing him to make one call per day to family members, a common tactic to keep them from getting worried and seeking legal aid.
Local cops inactive: The CBI found that Patidar’s family members made missing person complaints with the Khajrana police station in Indore on November 14, 20 and 22, but the SHO did not make official entries. Usually, special investigating agencies such as the ATS are able to exert pressure on local stations to stall missing-person complaints about suspects they have picked up.
The CBI has concluded that “there is nothing to show that Patidar came back to Indore from Mumbai”. So where is he? The cash reward for any information on him has gone up from Rs 2 lakh to Rs 5 lakh. But there is no answer. And while investigators may not admit it openly, privately many believe Patidar’s disappearance will seriously affect the 2008 Malegaon blasts trials, confounding the investigation of “saffron terror”.
Sure. No possibility of IM or SIMI involvement.
7/D-14, Zafar, that was rather too quick to allude to this story. :)
Perhaps its connected to another story in this issue--
Pune has long being a hub for the Indian Mujahideen - the group blamed for the February 13, 2010 attack - and men and material for attacks in Hyderabad and other places have been sourced from Pune.
However, the terror angle was also strengthened by theories that the blasts were to avenge the murder of IM commander Qateel Siddiqui at Pune's Yeravada Jail and came hours after a home ministry tribunal headed by a high court judge recommended the extension of a ban on the Students Islamic Movement of India (Simi), a group that's been blamed for radicalizing young Muslims.
One of the injured was identified as Dayanand Bhaurao Patil (34). He suffered minor injuries in the first explosion. Patil was admitted to Sassoon General Hospital. D G Kulkarni, medical superintendent of the hospital, told reporters that Patil, a tailor, was on his way home when he stopped at the Balgandharva chowk to listen to a speech at a rally organized by India Against Corruption activists............
Multiple Low Intensity Explosions in Pune
PTI | Pune | Aug 01, 2012
Four coordinated low-intensity explosions struck the busy arterial J M road in the heart of Pune tonight raising the spectre of terror.
Pune Police Commissioner Gulab Rao Pol described the explosions as an act of mischief but Union Home Secretary R K Singh said terror angle cannot be ruled out since it seems to be a planned attack.
A man allegedly carrying one of the bombs was injured in the explosions and has been taken into custody and is being interrogated, Singh said. He has been admitted to a local hospital…
Police said the injured person was identified as Dayanand Patil.
I think courts must order narco test of ATS. Even pragya is detained illegaly under Mcoca and now almost killed by deying her treatment. I am sure courts will look at records and charge the responsible Jail authority of criminal acts.
I am very sure the maharashtra/central government will not allow pragya outside because she will prove to be too difficult to handle during 2014 election.
Indeed a surprise that Sonia's CBI has remained quite ineffective in this case while it was super efficient in reigning in political adversaries such as Jagan.
The CBI needs to work hard to keep the status quo of 'guilty till proven innocent', at least till 2014 elections, else appellations such as 'Maut ke saudagar' for the opposition will carry no weight.
We at Outlookindia.com welcome feedback and your comments, including scathing criticism
1. Scathing, passionate, even angry critiques are welcome, but please do not indulge in abuse and invective. Our Primary concern is to keep the debate civil. We urge our users to try and express their disagreements without being disagreeable. Personal attacks are not welcome. No ad hominem please.
2. Please do not post the same message again and again in the same or different threads
3. Please keep your responses confined to the subject matter of the article you are responding to. Please note that our comments section is not a general free-for-all but for feedback to articles/blogs posted on the site
4. Our endeavour is to keep these forums unmoderated and unexpurgated. But if any of the above three conditions are violated, we reserve the right to delete any comment that we deem objectionable and also to withdraw posting privileges from the abuser. Please also note that hate-speech is punishable by law and in extreme circumstances, we may be forced to take legal action by tracing the IP addresses of the poster.
5. If someone is being abusive or personal, or generally being a troll or a flame-baiter, please do not descend to their level. The best response to such posters is to ignore them and send us a message at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT
6. Please do not copy and paste copyrighted material. If you do think that an article elsewhere has relevance to the point you wish to make, please only quote what is considered fair-use and provide a link to the article under question.
7. There is no particular outlookindia.com line on any subject. The views expressed in our opinion section are those of the author concerned and not that of all of outlookindia.com or all its authors.
8. Please also note that you are solely responsible for the comments posted by you on the site. The comments could be deleted or edited entirely at our discretion if we find them objectionable. However, the mere fact of their existence on our site does not mean that we necessarily approve of their contents. In short, the onus of responsibility for the comments remains solely with the authors thereof. Outlookindia.com or any of its group publications, may, however, retains the right to publish any of these comments, with or without editing, in any medium whatsoever. It is therefore in your own interest to be careful before posting.
9.Outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for how any search engine -- such as Google, Bing etc -- caches or displays these comments. Please note that you are solely responsible for posting these comments and it is a privilege being granted to our registered users which can be withdrawn in case of abuse. To reiterate:
a. Comments once posted can only be deleted at the discretion of outlookindia.com
b. The comments reflect the views of the authors and not of outlookindia.com
c. outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for the way search engines cache or display these comments
d. Please therefore take due caution before you post any comments as your words could potentially be used against you
10. We have an online thread for our comments policy:
You are welcome to post your suggestions here or in case you have a specific issue, to directly email us at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT