//Kin of Mumbai blast suspects allege torture; inquiry launched

Kin of Mumbai blast suspects allege torture; inquiry launched

Oct 11, 2006, dpa – Deutsche Presse-Agentur,

New Delhi – Top police officials in the western Indian state of Maharashtra have launched an investigation into allegations of torture and brutality by local police investigating the July 11 bombings in the state capital, Mumbai, media reports said Wednesday.

Maharashtra police chief PS Pasricha was asked by State Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh to look into the charges after the suspects and their relatives filed affidavits with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's office, the Indian Express daily reported.

Among the accusations lodged against the police were tying suspects to the floor and beating them with belts and sticks, beating them in front of relatives, kicking them and parading them around naked.

Relatives – including those of the alleged kingpins, Faisal (who uses only one name) and Muzammil Sheikh – alleged that police held female and elderly relatives hostage to extract confessions from the accused or to ensure the arrests of suspects.

'I recently received the affidavits,' Pasricha told the newspaper. 'It needs a thorough probe. I cannot say anything about it unless I have looked into the matter in detail.'

All suspects arrested in connection with the bombings of Mumbai trains that killed 186 people are Indian Muslims.

According to the Express, a delegation of eight Muslim parliamentarians met Deshmukh recently, following which the Mumbai police were instructed not to harass the Muslim community.

Mumbai police commissioner AN Roy had later written to Muslim leaders asking them to contact him in case there were any complaints and grievances.

The Mumbai police recently said Pakistani nationals belonging to the Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorist group carried out the bombings with the help of the group's Indian operatives and members of the Students' Islamic Movement of India.

The police alleged that Pakistan's spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence, masterminded the bombings. Those charges were dismissed by Pakistan, which said such allegations would only sour relations between the neighbouring countries.