September 14, 2004
Nafitullah Shaikh records statement against Madhu Srivastava
of Police Parghi of the Vadodara police today recorded a detailed
three-and-a-half-long statement of Nafitullah Habibullh Shaikh, brother of
Zahira Shaikh in Mumbai. The statement was recorded in support of the
September 27, 2003 FIR lodged in Vadodara alleging threats and
intimidation by Madhu Srivastava (BJP MLA) and Chandrakant Bhattu
Srivastava (his cousin) to the Habibullah Shaikh family once the trial in
the fast track court had commenced on April 20, 2004. The Supreme Court in
itÂ’s order of August 9, 2004 had made inquiries on whether the Gujarat
police had initiated any steps against those accused of threats and
intimidation by the witnesses. The threats had finally led the entire
family to rescind on their earlier statements before the police during the
first trial in Vadodara in April-May 2003.
On July 7, 2003 at a
press conference in Mumbai, Zahira Shaikh had given details of the threats
and intimidation after recording detailed affidavits in the presence of
Teesta Setalvad, Secretary Citizens for Justice and Peace. Today
NafitullahÂ’s statement was recorded at an undisclosed destination in the
presence of Ms Setalvad.
Apart from recounting the
details of the incident of March 1-2,2002 when the BEST Bakery was
systematically attacked over 12 hours and 14 lives lost, the statement
gives details of the threats meted out to Nafitullah Shaikh and through
him, his family. The salient points of the statement recorded today are:
Â“For about a month before
the trial began regular visits by one Rehemtullah a scrap and timber
merchant from the Hanuman Tekri area and Lal Mohammed also a timber
merchant from there to our home — Nafitullah and Zahira ShaikhÂ’s
family– began . We were by then living in Ektanagar.
Â“The purpose of these
visits was to frighten our family. They told me, Nafitullah that Â“all the
persons arrested as accused in the BEST Bakery massacre whom we all have
named are MaduÂ’s and BhattuÂ’s men. Nothing will happen to them. The
government is theirÂ’s, the police is theirÂ’s. You will all be killed.
There will no one left to give evidence.Â” Nafitullah told the Vadodara
police today that these repeated visits had made the family extremely
frightened as they had no backing or support to fight the case.
Â“Soon after trial began,
the first summons to appear in the fast track trial court was received by
the us, for Saira Shaikh, the eldest sister. The duo of Rehemtullah and
Lal Mohammad took me, Nafitullah to a place near Alpana Talkies on the
pretext of showing me some scrap. Instead they took him to a hotel owned
by Chandrakant Bhattu Srivastava in the area. When I inquired as to why
he had been brought here, they said, Â“Come inside you will find out.Â”
Inside, both Madhu and Chandrakant Srivsatava were there with many
henchmen. They told me, Â“ Those arrested as accused are our men, special
men. If you give evidence, none of you will survive. I will be in Court to
see what you do, what evidence you give.Â” Madhu Srivastava repeated the
threat two-three times.
Â“By now, I was scared,
really scared. I went home and told my family what Madhu and Chandrakant
Srivastava had said and what was repeated by Rhemtullah and Lal Mohammad.
It was after this meeting that I received threats on my mobile from Madhu
Srivastava. (His number is 9825060542). The first time when he called and
I asked who he was, he said he was Madhu and said, Â“Have you understood
what I said, or not? In two days the court appearance is scheduled and I
will be there.Â” I phoned him back to make sure it was him and he said it
was Madhu Srivastava.
Â“Two days later, I went
with my sister Saira to Court. Madhu was standing outside the courtroom.
He first took us both to the lawyerÂ’s room next to the courtroom. Here
there were three other peopleÂ—Raghuvir Pandya (the public prosecutor),
Praveen Thakkar (the defence advocate) and Shailesh patel (another
lawyer). He said to Saira whoÂ’s summons was for that day and me, Â“These
are all our lawyers. The Judge has been set. All you have to say is Â‘Yes,
YesÂ’ and shake your head. If you donÂ’t understand anything just bend your
head down. When they ask if these are the accused, just say Â‘No.Â’ There
was a lot of smoke and we could see nothing.Â” He then threatened Saira
again before taking her to the witness box. She must have been inside for
a maximum of five minutes. The Judge asked two three minimal questions
after the oath. Madhu Srivastava was standing glaring at us in the front
of the courtroom.
Â“Once Saira stepped down,
Madhu Srivastava walked up to the public prosecutor, Raghuvir Pandya and
said, pointing to me, Â“Isko bhi le loÂ”. (There was no summons for
me, Nafitullah Shaikh received for that day! Then NafitullahÂ’s evidence
was recorded in much the same way as SairaÂ’s was).
Â“After this, Zaira
received threatening calls on my mobile three-four times. Â“Think and give
your evidence or it will not be wise.Â” Madhu Srivastava would say. About
ten days later the day my mother, brother and ZahiraÂ’s testimony was to be
given I had taken them to Court. Once again Madhu Srivastava was standing
outside the courtroom. He took all four of us inside the lawyerÂ’s cabin.
The same three lawyers were sitting there and she and my family were
warned against speaking up. ZahiraÂ’s evidence went on for about half an
hour. After it concluded, Madhu Srivastava brought her to the lawyerÂ’s
cabin where there was a video correspondent from the media who asked her,
Â“Zahira what made you change your statement?Â” The moment he said this,
Madhu picked him by the collar and took him out. Then he told us to go to
our village for a few days which we did.
Â“We returned around June
29, 2003 and then through the assistance of Teesta Setalvad who had met us
in Gujarat several times before came to Mumbai.Â”
In answer to a specific
question about whether or not he had telephoned Madhu Srivastava from his
mobile, Nafitullah said that he had only returned SrivastavaÂ’s call once
after the first threat. He had not phoned him thereafter and it was not in
his knowledge that anyone had phoned him.