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Shame on you, 'National’ media...
A classic story of state terrorism

The story of Abdus Samad, a 17-year student of Jamia Arabia Khadimul Islam, Hapur, who was arrested on fictitious charges of involvement in a 'bomb blast' in Bhopal was totally neglected by the so-called national media when he was honourably released by the court scrapping all charges against him. The story was, however, different when he was arrested and paraded by the police before the print and electronic media. Newspapers published the story on front pages and deplored the unholy nexus of madrasas and ISI in UP. S Ubaidur Rahman visited Hapur to find out the facts..

Clockwise: Maulana Naazir, Abdus Samad, Copy of the judicial order dropping charges against Abdus Samad, Jamia Arabia at Hapur

On 29 April newspapers carried banner headlines over the sensational arrest of an 'ISI agent' from a madrasa in Hapur for his alleged involvement in a bomb blast in Bhopal in 1996. Newspapers were agog with speculations on the nefarious collaboration of the infamous ISI and madrasas spread across Uttar Pradesh. The police was claiming to have made a breakthrough by busting a large group of ISI agents functioning from these madrasas.

But news was ostensibly missing from all newspapers on 23 May. The news that was blacked out by all newspapers was nothing but the throwing out of the entire case against this alleged ISI agent by the chief judicial magistrate of Bhopal, LD Borali, who ordered the honourable release of the student. The court was so convinced of the innocence of this young boy that not only did it scrap all the charges but also returned the case diary.

This is the story of Abdus Samad, a 17-year-old student of Jamia Arabia Khadimul Islam, Hapur. A resident of Bhagalpur in Bihar with an extremely fragile body, he has been studying in the Jamia for last several years. He was arrested by the local police on charges of alleged involvement in a bomb blast in Bhopal in January 1996. He was picked up by the police on these charges on 24 April and was released on 23 May after the case was thrown out by the court.

Words fail to describe what happened with Abdus samad during the last one month during his detention. The brilliant student as he was, Samad is a totally shattered lot now. He breaks down with the slightest mention of the ghostly days when he suffered at the hands of the law enforcers with no crime of his own.

When this correspondent decided to visit the madrasa and meet Abdus samad, it did not seem at all that it would be easy to reach the Jamia as this correspondent took it as an small-time madrasa in an obscure part of the town of Hapur. But to the astonishment of this correspondent this turned out to be a totally mistaken notion. On board a Delhi-Haldawani bus an elderly person readily described the whereabouts of the Jamia. The madrasa turned out to be a large institution where around 2500 students are enrolled with around one thousand hostelers.

The Jamia was established some three hundred years ago during Mughal emperor Shah Jahan's reign who reportedly sent ulama to establish a madrasa in Hapur. Its rector, Maulana Naazir is himself a well known freedom fighter of the area. He took an active part against the ouster of the colonial rulers from the country. The Maulana is the rector of the Jamia since 1951.

When this correspondent met Abdus samad in the madrasa he was unable to speak. He just didn't want to recount the horrors that hound him all through nights these days. He is fearful of going to bed as he says whenever he goes to bed it is the torture, he underwent at the hands of the police that torments his mind. He is unable to speak properly. His whole body is badly bruised even after several weeks of being handed over to the Bhopal police who according to him, were less brutal then the UP police.

Recalling the incident, Abdus samad says that he was arrested by the Hapur police on 22 April with an assurance that they will release him after a few hours. 'I was wearing lungi when I was called by the office of the Jamia. I wore lungi at that time and therefore the Naib Nazim asked me to change clothes. The three police officers assured the teachers to send him back to the Jamia administration within hours.

But that never happened. He was taken to the local Kotwali where senior local police officers, including the SP Dehat Subhash Baghel, the CO Alok Priyadarshani and the city Kotwal Ambesh Chand Tyagi, and other senior officers were present. They all asked him about some Yaqub, Yusuf and Abdullah. Samad told them that he doesn't know anyone except his school friends. He also told them that he was never aware of the existence of these people. Then he was shifted to another police station in the city and was locked up. By two in the night he was again interrogated. Samad breaks down again while recollecting his sufferings. It was the time when the torture began and didn't stop until the morning. He was fired with a battery of questions about wherefrom he got bombs and who supplies the arms to his team. When he said that he has never seen a bomb not to ask about using it, he was made to take off all clothes. He was stark naked when the third degree torture was unleashed upon him by the saviours of law. Two policewallahs stood on both his legs and another stood with his boot on his chest. He fainted immediately.

The same scenes were repeated on a number of occasions, Abdus samad recounts. He was threatened with dire consequences if he didn't reveal all the ‘facts’. For more than two days he was not allowed to quench his thirst while the mercury was hovering between forty-three and forty-four degree celsius. Whenever he asked for water he was threatened with being forced to drink urine. He was not allowed to ease out either. In the midst of this brutality by the law enforcers the torture continued unabated.

On the second day of his arrest, some new officers arrived and started interrogating him. They asked him about the Rector of Jamia Maulana Nazir. He was also asked to tell what is taught in the Jamia, when he said it is only the Holy Qur'an, Hadith and Fiqh and the love for humanity and the country that is taught there, he was again beaten up brutally. He was also asked by these officers to implicate a few leading Muslim figures as 'ISI agents' and was assured to be made an official witness. But when he refused, the hell was let loose on him. This time they repeated the last scene yet again and he fainted, Samad recounts breaking down yet again.

He was threatened to be killed and officials told him to show it as a shoot-out case. But he still didn't budge. He was paraded before the media several times but was never given a chance to speak to the scribes.

Later he was handed over to Bhopal police who kept him in Govindpuri police station and interrogated him for the next six days. But, he says, their attitude was different from the brutal attitude of the UP police. He was never tortured there. After six days of interrogation he was sent to the local jail on 7 May. Later he was presented before the court of the chief judicial magistrate, LD Borali, who was so convinced of his innocence that he not only scrapped all the charges against Samad but also returned the case diary, thereby closing the case.
After more than a month of vacillating between hope and despair amidst unimaginable torture, though freed and cases against him scrapped, this young boy has changed altogether. He says that life will never be same again. Samad told this correspondent that he always thought of him and the country as an indispensable part, but now with implication in such an absurd charge and severe torture by none but the saviours of law he feels that the bond has considerably weakened.

The incident has not only shattered Samad but also the whole institution he belongs to. Jamia Arabia Jamia Khadimul Islam is a prestigious centre of learning in the district of Hapur which is barely an hour's drive from Delhi. It was also a prominent centre for freedom struggle and many renowned freedom fighters belonged to this institution. All these people including the teachers and students had unshakable trust in the country, but it seems that the trust is shaken now. They had never imagined even in their wildest dreams that this sort of attitude will be meted out to them, says Maulana Naazir with other senior teachers echoing the same feelings. He says that his trust has taken a beating after the arrest and brutal attitude of the police with that child-Abdus Samad.

Though this is a case, a somewhat similar incident took place when after the Babri Masjid demolition the police came to the Jamia and at gun point the Maulana was asked to help them recover a large cache of arms. The police alleged that they had 'accurate report' that it was kept there. Several senior teachers were beaten black and blue by the police on that occasion. Police could recover nothing.

Even in this case too, Maulana Naazir says that the police told them that it just wanted 'fifteen thousand rupees', the prize money for one who arrests a Bhopal bomb suspect. The rector says that the police asked him to hand over any other student and get Abdus samad freed.

The Maulana says that the police ostensibly picked the name of Abdus Samad from the list of all the students of the madrasa they have to submit to the local intelligence unit (LIU). Though there is no legal provision for the submission of such lists but, as this correspondent was told, a number of madrasas are forced to do this every year following the orders of the local office of the LIU. This correspondent was told of such order to another madrasa, Faizul Uloom in Mussori police station in Ghaziabad district.

The most amazing aspect of this unbelievable story is that this incident did not take place in any remote village in the countryside in UP or Bihar but very much within the National Capital Territory of Delhi. Hapur is only thirty-four miles away from the Capital and is a big wholesale market of grains. Mussori is even nearer. If this is the case of these areas what would be happening to thousands of other madrasas in far off places is not beyond imagination.

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