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Published in the 16-30 Sep 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

10 Muslims arrested in AP on ISI charges

By Ibrahim Usmani

Hyderabad: Police here on 29 August arrested ten Muslims on charges of being ‘Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT)’ agents planning to blow up Ganesh Temple in Secunderabad along with attacks on Americans and Jews. Those who were arrested were identified as Aijaz, Qadeer, Fareed, Munawwar, Rasheed, Hameeduddin, Maulana Naseeruddin, Jawed, Farooq and Aslam. Seven others are absconding.

rave policemen of Andhra Pradesh attack women demonstrating against excesses on 30 August 2004

Brave policemen of Andhra Pradesh attack women demonstrating against excesses on 30 August 2004

This incident conveniently came only a day after red alert was sounded in Hyderabad and Secunderabad after curfew was imposed in the cities of Jalna and Prabhani in the neighboring state of Maharashtra after a bomb was thrown in a mosque during Friday prayers when mosques are full.

According to Police Commissioner RP Singh, among those arrested was Maulana Naseeruddin, president of Tehreek-e Tahaffuz-e Sha’air-e Islam, who was accused of working as an “agent” of LeT leader Abdul Bari. Singh said that the arrested people had links with trained LeT activist Ghulam Yazdani. The arrested were planning to blow up Ganesh Temple in the forthcoming Ganesh Festival, he claimed. Some ‘explosives,’ ammonium nitrate, a five-kg cylinder, a country-made revolver, one dagger, a car, and four motorcycles were seized from them. One of them was to be disguised as a devotee and blow himself up after entering the temple. Maulana Naseeruddin is accused of “funding” the Lashkar activists and providing ideological and moral support to them. He is accused of making provocative speeches and inspiring Rasheed for launching jihad. 

The AP state Home Minister K Jana Reddy said that the police arrests were made after collecting evidence. "Our government will never target any community. If at all our investigation proves that anyone arrested is innocent we will release him". 

Police sources said that the youths were planning to kill Americans and Jews living in Guntur, to protest against Iraq and Palestine repression. But the Guntur Police refuted the claim. Deputy Superintendent of Police for Intelligence, Manikyala Rao stated that there were no Jews in Guntur. "I know thoroughly that there is not even the remnants of Jews here", he stressed. Police said that the arrested men have confessed to the allegations made against them. 

A demonstration by a group of women led by All India Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM)’s MLA Akbaruddin Owaisi was held on 30 August near the Police Commissioner’s office against the arrest. Police caned unarmed women who were peacefully raising slogans against the police, demanding immediate release of the arrested. 

There are mixed reactions to the events. BJP, as usual, has welcomed the arrests and cautioned that this shows that anti-nationals are active in Hyderabad. It demanded that those arrested should not be released and POTA should be imposed on them. Muslim leaders of various organisations met Chief Minister YS Rajshekhar Reddy and demanded a judicial enquiry into the incident. They said that it is usual for the police every year before Ganesh Festival to promote friction among different communities. The delegation comprised of AIMIM, Imarat Millat-e Islamiyah, Jamat-e Islami, United Muslim Forum and Tameer-e Millat and was led by AIMIM president Sultan Salahuddin Owaisi. In the 45-minute meeting the group raised the anti-Muslim attitude of the police and the police action on the women demonstrators. The chief minister has reportedly assured the delegation that appropriate action would be taken within two-three days. But this did not happen.

Talking to presspersons after the meeting, Mr. Owaisi said that since 1998 police every year routinely arrests some people at the time of Ganesh Festival. Earlier it was Telugu Desam rule so it could be understood that communal forces are carrying out their plan but why now when a secular government is in place both at the centre and the state? A judicial enquiry should be made into the matter headed by a judge of the high court. The delegation included Maulana Hameeduddin Aaqil Husami, Maulana Syed Shah Qubool Pasha Shattari and Maulana Abun Nasr Aabir. 

The chief minister assured that innocent Muslims would not be harassed. He said that rights of Muslim minorities would be protected. He announced on 1 September that a CID enquiry would be conducted into the arrest of the Muslims and the allegations of their ISI link. He had a meeting with top police officials, home minister and intelligence chief. He told them to present a report as early as possible. He also turned down the request made by the Ahmedabad Police to hand over Maulana Naseeruddin to interrogate him in connection with Haren Pandya murder case.
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