Activists said Tuesday that Police have secretly detained at least 21 Muslim youths in the wake of the bombings in southern India and urged to bring them to trial or release.
The two blasts that occurred minutes apart on Aug. 25 in crowded areas of Hyderabad killed at least 43 people and have been blamed on Islamic extremists. Police have, until now, acknowledged arresting four people in connection with the bombings.
But Lateef Mohammed Khan, the head of the local Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee, said 40 to 50 youths had been detained and their families denied access to them. However, he could only name 21 of them.
"Sources with the police told our organizations that for several days these youths were kept blindfolded and were being tortured to admit their involvement in the blasts," Lateef Khan said at a news conference.
Hyderabad police commissioner Balwinder Singh acknowledged police were holding several people but gave no further details.
"We are examining some people about the recent blasts," he said.
Meanwhile, relatives of the detained pleaded for their freedom.
"My younger son Wasey was taken away by the police from my house on Thursday last. As a precaution I had sent my elder brother Rafey with him. But none of them have returned for the last six days," said Mujeebunnisa, an elderly woman who goes by just one name. "Have mercy on us and please return my sons."
Ghousia Begusaid her son, Abdul Raheem, said her son was dragged from their home by police in the middle of the night. "I am not able to understand why we are being harassed and tortured like this," she said.
Lateef Khan accused the police of deliberately targeting Muslims and demanded police immediately release the detained youths or produce them in the court.
"This is being done to tarnish the image of the community and portray all the Muslims as culprits," he said.
Police have blamed Islamic militants based in neighboring Pakistan and Bangladesh - both mainly Muslim countries - for the bombings, saying they hoped to create tensions between India's Hindu majority and Muslim minority. Pakistan and Bangladesh have denied the allegation.