ATS trying to implicate poor teacher

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Shaukat Ali of Shrinathpur village in Pratapgarh district is a vagabond these days. Fearing arrest by U.P. ATS any time, he is roaming around, changing his address frequently.

Shaukat has been at the receiving end of the ATS for the last four years. A teacher at a primary school at Rampur Karmian in Pratapgarh district for the last 17 years, he came on the U.P. ATS radar because a person called Aamir Mahfooz, arrested in August 2008 on charges of dealing in fake currency, allegedly named him as a supplier. Ever since men in plainclothes started visiting him at home and school asking awkward questions, telling him to meet them at various places but he was never arrested all this while. ATS people asked his principal about his economic condition and he told them that Shaukat commutes daily from his far-away village riding a bicycle and this shows his economic condition.

Recently, Shaukat received a letter by post which announced that he has been appointed as the "area commander of LeT" and that he should start working in right earnest. The letter was written at Allahabad in Urdu but was posted in Barabanki. Shaukat at once informed the District Magistrate and the Police head of his area. Thereafter, he informed Hemant Bhushan, an ATS officer who was dealing with him. Bhushan got angry and ordered him to give any such information to him only and not to the district or police authorities.

Shaukat wrote a letter to the chief minister of U. P. on 15 June telling him that Hemant Bhushan first contacted him last February and asked him about one "Talha Abdali". Shaukat told Bhushan that he had met this person (Abdali) once at a function and that he does not know much about him beyond his assumption that he belongs to Pratapgarh or Barabanki but Bhushan corrected him that Abdali belongs to Sitapur. Now Shaukat was required to somehow find this "Abdali" and was frequently asked to meet ATS people at Allahabad and Lucknow. It was during this ordeal that Shaukat received the above-mentioned letter by post. Bhushan took it away on the pretext of getting it examined.

On 12 May this year, ATS officers told Shaukat that they have visited Talha Abdali's home in Raniganj and that Abdali has been arrested. They also enquired about a number of alleged "LeT operatives" including Riyaz Bhatkal. They took Shaukat 's photograph through their mobile phones and enquired about his family members. They parted company saying that if need be he will be called to the ATS office in Lucknow. Ever since, fearing arrest, Shaukat is not staying at a fixed address.

Shaukat's original sin is that he was a member of SIMI. Shortly after its ban in 2001, he was questioned but let off. His problems started in 2008 when every few days police and ATS people started visiting him at home and school.

Shaukat has now contacted Muhammad Shoaib, a Lucknow-based advocate who is famous for fighting such cases. Says Advocate Shoaib, "After the ban on SIMI, its offices in various places like Indore and Lucknow were raided by Police and Intelligence people. They recovered lists of SIMI members during those raids. The Intelligence agencies are slowly working on these lists. No one knows when and which name of an old SIMI member will crop up and he will be whisked away to an unknown destination as a "terrorist" and a few days later will be sent to jail as a member of Lashkar or Indian Mujahidin or Hizbul Mujahidin."

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 July 2012 on page no. 1

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