Malegaon blast accused starts legal aid NGO to help those ‘wrongly arrested’

FP

In 2006, soon after the Malegaon bomb blasts, the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad arrested a Unani medicine practitioner alleging he harboured Pakistanis and smuggled the RDX used in the explosives.

After five years in prison, and a year outside on bail, Dr Salman Farsi Monday launched a NGO called Justice Legal Voice (JLV) to provide legal aid to the "wrongly arrested". Farsi recalls that he was nothing but 'accused number 4' for five years, with law his only hope.

"I did not know anything about law. But I slowly started reading and today, am educated in the subject. This NGO will employ the services of practicing advocates to fight the cases of brothers who are wrongly arrested. And they do not mean only Muslims," he told The Indian Express.

Initially scheduled to run from his Malegaon-based dispensary, Farsi is raising funds and support to ensure the foundation is in place. Stating that it is at present a one-man initiative, he hopes to secure the participation of more people when the NGO is officially registered.

"Not a single NGO looks into the problems inside prison. From my personal experience, I know of the problems a prisoner faces in jail. A jail manual has certain rules and jails need to follow them. There is such injustice inside prisons and this is most hurting when the prisoner is innocent," he says.

Farsi and eight others were in Mumbai's Arthur Road jail for five years. They were set free on bail in November 2011 after suspicions emerged about Hindu extremists being behind the blasts.

JLV also aims to focus on court proceedings. "We did not know our rights. The courts in India are open to all. But still in our case, even the NGOs working for us never came to court to see what is being said by the prosecution. I want to help the accused with legal information that will benefit them," Farsi adds.

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