By Shahina KK
THIS IS unbelievable. I never imagined that the police could fabricate a case like this,” says Jose Varghese, the prime witness in the 2008 Bengaluru blasts case. Varghese’s purported testimony was the basis on which the Karnataka Police nabbed Popular Democratic Party (PDP) chairman Abdul Nasar Madani amid high drama in Kollam, Kerala, on 17 August.
Madani had been staying at a house owned by Varghese’s sister in Kochi after he was released from prison in 2007. Madani was arrested in 1998 for his role in the Coimbatore serial blasts.
“On 6 January this year, I got a call from the Bengaluru Police at around noon,” Varghese recalls. “A man introduced himself as Omkaraiah, the Deputy Commissioner of Police. He asked me to come to Madani’s house and bring a copy of the rent agreement. When I reached, Omkaraiah brought a person inside, whose face was covered. The police told me that he was T Naseer, one of the key accused in the blasts case. They showed me a document written in Kannada and asked me to sign it. Initially, I refused because I don’t know Kannada. Then they explained that they just wanted me to be a witness to their procedure of adducing evidence. So, I reluctantly signed it,” Varghese says.
“Four months later, I got another call from Omkaraiah, who asked me to come to a hotel in Aluva. There, the police showed me some photographs, but I wasn’t able to identify anyone. They showed another photograph and forced me to say that I knew that person. They told me he was a terrorist who had been shot dead in Kashmir. But I didn’t lie,” says Varghese, who claims the police were irritated when he refused to cooperate.
A few days later, Varghese was shocked to hear that he had been made the prime witness in the case. “I came to know about it when a news channel reporter came to interview me,” he says. “I realised that what I had signed was a testimony against Madani. Within days, I filed a private complaint in the court.”
According to the police chargesheet, Varghese had witnessed Naseer talking to Madani when he went to collect the rent and overheard the words “blast” and “Bengaluru”. Eight blasts had occurred in a span of 30 minutes, killing a woman and injuring 15 on 25 July 2008. “I can’t cheat my conscience. I don’t know whether Madani is involved in the case. I’m compelled to believe that Madani has been falsely implicated,” claims Varghese.
THE BENGALURU Police cited Varghese’s plea before the court as an example of Madani’s ability to turn witnesses hostile and asked the Karnataka High Court to reject Madani’s bail plea.
‘I’m compelled to believe that Madani has been falsely implicated in the Bengaluru blasts case,’ claims prime witness Jose Varghese
Meanwhile, doubts have surfaced about another testimony. According to sources, PDP worker MM Mazeed had testified to the Karnataka Police in Kannur on 12 January about the relationship between Naseer and Madani. However, PDP leaders claim that Mazeed was an acute cancer patient and was undergoing treatment 317 km away in an Ernakulam hospital where he died on 16 January
Madani was arrested from Anwarssery with the Karnataka Police executing the warrant with the help of a reluctant Kerala Police. The Kerala government tried its best to distance itself from the highprofile case and the friction has developed into a tug-of-war with Karnataka.