NH Conversation: A case of doctored narco-analysis

Abdul Wahid Shaikh was acquitted of all charges in the Mumbai train blast case after nine years in prison. His book in Urdu, <i>Begunah Qaidi</i> (Innocent Prisoner) will be translated into Hindi

NH Photo by Vipin
NH Photo by Vipin

Vikrant Jha

For a high school teacher, most of whose income is spent in buying household necessities, flying was a rare experience, recalls Abdul Wahid Shaikh with a sardonic smile. He was speaking at the ‘NH Conversation’ hosted by National Herald and moderated by journalist and TV anchor Sunetra Choudhury and Manisha Sethi, assistant professor at Jamia Milia Islamia in New Delhi on Thursday.

Wahid was on a flight to Bangalore and he was being taken there for a narco-analysis test. He remembers being excited and yet feeling remarkably relaxed. The narco-test, he believed, would clear the ‘misunderstanding’ and he would be spared the ordeal. It would prove him to be innocent, he was convinced.

He, in fact, greeted Dr Malini in Bangalore and blurted out, “I am innocent, Ma’am”. But, the doctor ignored him and did not seem to have taken any notice of what he had said. That was when he began worrying.

What followed in the medical room was a nightmare, he recalls. “Dr Malini was given questions and answers and she was told to extract the answers from us. She slapped me numerous times whenever I refused to answer a question. She held my ears using an instrument and when I returned to my senses after the test, my ears were bleeding and the pain was unbearable,” he adds.

Dr Malini, who rose to fame by conducting successful narco-analysis tests and helping police in finding links to the worst of cases, was ironically sacked for providing false information about her caste and educational qualification. She was also accused of leaking various narco-analysis reports to the media and doctoring the brain mapping reports in Sister Abhaya Murder case of Kerala.

Wahid, too, claims that Dr Malini edited or doctored the tests on him. “We were asked misleading questions and our answers would be edited to prove us guilty.”

  • He was, for example, asked what came after five.
  • Six, he replied.
  • But the reply was put against the question: "How many Pakistanis visited your house?”

Wahid claims that he was not the only one who went through the farce; other convicts also faced similar treatment.

  • One of the accused, Sajid, was asked how a television set was switched on and off. He replied: "By remote".
  • His answer was put against the question: “How were bombs detonated?”

Wahid’s claims, which are based on his own experience, raise questions on various tests like brain mapping and narco-analysis. Even the CBI seems to have claimed that it was given a doctored 45 minutes’ video tape of Krishna, one of Rajesh Talwar’s servants, in the Aarushi-Hemraj murder case, reported Deccan Chronicle.

Deception Detection Tests (DDT) such as polygraph, narco-analysis and brain mapping are not accepted as evidence in Indian courts. Such tests, under the law, cannot be carried out without consent. And yet experience of Wahid indicates that even these so-called scientific tests can be manipulated, making the administration of justice more difficult.

Wahid also claims that ‘illegal narco tests’ were conducted on the floor of the ‘Kala Chowki’ of the Maharashtra Anti-Terror Squad. He was subjected to such tests twice, he says.

“A number of medical tests are conducted before a person goes through a narco-analysis, including blood tests, urine tests, ECG among others. But no test was conducted on me,” he adds.

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