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31 October 2011

Indian bomb probes wrongly target Muslims: judge

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New Delhi: A recently retired judge from the Indian Supreme Court has launched a blistering attack on the country's police, accusing them of falsely implicating local Muslims in bomb attacks.

Markandey Katju, who retired from the top court last month, said Indian police were poorly trained in forensic investigations which meant they were unable to crack terror attack cases.

"The point is that they cannot catch the real culprits, so whomever they think may have committed the crime they catch hold of them," he said in an interview with cable news network NDTV broadcast late on Monday.

Training and equipment to conduct scientific investigations "is absent in India so it is done by suspicion. Some bomb blast takes place, they catch hold of the local Muslims and young people and implicate them," he added.

A string of bombings over the last two years have gone unsolved, including attacks on the IT hub of Bangalore, the holy city of Varanasi, the western city of Pune, commercial capital Mumbai and most recently New Delhi.

Katju said torture was regularly used to extract confessions, particularly in rural areas where local police inspectors needed to show quick results after a crime.

In the most recent miscarriage of justice highlighted in the Indian media, Imran Kirmani, a Kashmiri Muslim, was released after four and half years in jail after being falsely accused of plotting a major terror strike in 2006.

Katju, who is now head of the Press Council of India, said he was still in favour of the death penalty despite the problems in catching the real culprits.

During his time in the top court, he argued in favour of the death penalty for policemen found to have executed suspects, as well as perpetrators of so-called "honour killings" and murders motivated by dowry payments.

Capital punishment can be handed down by an Indian judge as a sentence for the "rarest of rare" crimes.

(Courtesy: AFP)

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