The People's Union for Civil Liberties, Uttar Pradesh Chapter, and People's Union for Human Rights have released the report of a fact-finding team which investigated the case of Shahbaz Ahmed, who was arrested in connection with the Jaipur serial bomb blasts.
The fact-finding team had six members: (1) S.R. Darapuri,. IPS (Retd) (UP), 9415164845, firstname.lastname@example.org, (2) Sandeep Pandey, Social Activist, 0522 2347365, email@example.com, (3) S.M. Naseem,. IPS (Retd ) (UP), (4) J.A. Khan IAS (Retd.) (J&K), (5) Mohammed Saif Babar, Advocate and (6) Syed Moid Ahmed, Social Activist
The following is the report of the team:
Shahbaz Ahmed s/o Mumtaz Ahmed (9889406961), resident of Bhadohi, 32 years old, was a member of SIMI as a student. He completed his B.Sc. and then B.J. from Kashi Vidyapeeth in Varanasi . Two years after completion of his studies he got married to Sadaf d/o Abdul Moid (9792439090) in 2002. Since he was not interested in the carpet business of his father he decided to move to Lucknow in 2004 with his wife to try his luck as a journalist. His father-in-law spent 8.5 lakh rupees after selling his house in Sultanpur to buy and renovate a house for Sadaf and Shahbaz in Molviganj, Lucnkow. Additionally, he spent Rs. 1 lakh to help him get started with a cyber café business couple of years ago. However, he changed his business to Career consultancy, training and foreign education. He was also planning to start a travel agency.
According to his wife, who herself is a B.Com and CIC from KNI in Sultanpur, Shahbaz was a soft spoken and introvert but polite person. He used to offer Namaz five times a day but was not a fundamentalist. He used to wear western clothing and would occasionally take her to cinema and parks. In fact, she said that she was pleasantly surprised that Shahbaz was not a very conservative person and allowed her independence in various matters. He was not proficient in Urdu and could read it with difficulty. He used to write in Hindi and English. He desired to send his children, three in number with the eldest being 4 years old, to City Montessori School, a modern centre of education in Lucknow. Shahbaz had discontinued his association with SIMI after marriage.
The owner of Adarsh Market, where his shop Zyna Career Consultants was located, Rais Ansari, said that he would not have renewed the contract with Shahbaz if he would have found anything wrong with him. On the contrary, he was full of praise for his behaviour. Naveen Sharma, who has a shop on the first floor of the building in which Shahbaz was on second floor, was shocked at the implication of Shahbaz in bomb blast incident. Shahbaz would exchange greetings when passing by his shop in going up to and coming down from his shop. Mohammad Mubin Bablu, the President of Aminabad Vyapar Mandal Madhya, of which Shahbaz was a member, testified to his professional qualities.
Mohammed Furkan, in the business of footwear, and Arjun Singh, a retd. Government employee, who lives in the neighbourhood of Shahbaz found nothing unusual with Shahbaz. He used to exchange greetings with everybody while going to and coming from his shop. He did not have any group of friends or frequent visitors. Shahbaz preferred to spend time with his family when away from work. He used to get some newspapers and periodicals at his home, but none of them of religious nature.
The office bearers of Jamat-e-Islami, whose office he would pass by everyday while going to and coming back from work, confirmed that he never attended any of their meetings or social functions. He probably never went there.
It was alleged by Rajasthan police that transactions in crores had taken place from his bank account. We checked both his bank accounts. In the account with IndusInd Bank which he recently tried to open with a cheque of Rs. 10,000, the balance was zero as the cheque had bounced. In another account with SBI, initially in the name of Sadaf in which Shahbaz's name was also added later, the balance was Rs. 1,806. There was no transaction between December, 2007 and May, 2008. The single largest transaction was that of Rs. 15,000. The bank accounts portray a picture of a struggling middle class entrepreneur who was mostly raising his family on his daily earnings.
He had only two employees at his shop - an assistant Sarika and a helper Rahul, incidentally both Hindu.
His neighbours and shop owners in proximity of his shop confirmed that he hardly used to travel outside. His wife mentioned a few occasions when he went on vacation with his family. He had never been to Jaipur, which was also confirmed by Mahendra Chaudhary, Addl. S.P. and the investigating officer of Rajasthan Police in his case.
It is alleged by the Rajasthan Police that Shahbaz Ahmed sent e-mail from a cyber café based in Sahibabad, Ghaziabad between 10th to 13th May just before the blasts in Jaipur. However, following are the results of our verification of the record of phone calls made from his land line phone in his office situated in Molviganjj, Lucknow , during this period.
(i) Call made on 10th May at 09973472944, 12:48 hrs. in Bokaro to Mussarat regarding admission to a University in Singapore . There was another call made at 16:28 hrs on same day and then on 12/05/08 at 14:00 hrs and 16:23 hrs. and on 13/05/08 at 16:34 hrs. Mussarat confirmed that he had spoken to Shahbaz Ahmed.
(ii) Call made on 12th May at 022 24450617, 12:07 pm to Arbab Travels, Mumbai. It could not be confirmed whether it was actually Shahbaz who had called.
(iii) Call made on 13th May at 044 42125454, 19:01 hrs. to Sriram of Singapore Worldwide Students' Placement in Chennai regarding tie-up with this agency. Call made again at this number on same day at 19:17 hrs. Most likely Shahbaz Ahmed talked to Sriram because there was nobody else in his office who could speak about this matter.
(iv) Call made on 13th May at 09967141997, 12:08 hrs. to Hasan, a real estate agent. It could not be confirmed whether it was Shahbaz who had made this call
STD calls could be made from the phone in Shahbaz's office only after unlocking the code. Hence, most likely all the above calls were made by Shahbaz as it is very unlikely that Sarika or anybody else would have made these calls from his office.
Rajasthan Police has alleged that Shahbaz has been identified by the owner of the Cyber Café but this identification after a lapse of five months is doubtful in itself as the café is daily frequented by so many persons.
Rajasthan Police has also alleged that a laptop computer was recovered from Shahbaz whereas the fact is that Shahbaz did not possess a laptop.
Conclusion: We think that Shahbaz Ahmed is innocent and has been picked up by police merely because he was a one time member of SIMI and his name probably cropped up in interrogation of one of the accused picked up earlier than him. Or may be police got hold of some membership list of SIMI from the years when he was a member. Shahbaz's life has changed after his marriage and it is unlikely that a person would be involved in bomb blasts in May when a child is born to his wife in April by a major operation. He seems to have been mostly busy trying to establish his business to ensure a decent earning to raise his family.
The verification of calls made from his land line phone in office proves the presence of Shahbaz Ahmed in Lucknow between 10th and 13th May, 2008 and contradicts the version of Rajasthan police of his presence in Sahibabad during this period. Identification of Shahbaz by the owner of the Cyber café after a lapse of five months is also doubtful.