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Three innocent Muslim “terrorists”

New Delhi: Though there are thousands of prisoners in Indian jails who even after long years of incarceration are still waiting for their cases being taken up by courts for hearing, there is no dearth of persons who are wrongly arrested by police and investigating agencies for terrorism. Their cases linger on in courts for years and then suddenly one day the court in its verdict pronounces that the police has no solid proof against the accused. Irrespective of the fact whether police had framed a fake case or it had no solid proof against the accused, an effort was made to know that even after acquittal in the case, when the police arrested them after accusing them of being terrorists, what problems such  people and their relatives face in society, how people’s attitudes towards them change and after facing torture and rigours of jail life what problems they face in real life. Three persons were selected for this purpose who were honourably acquitted by courts but even today they have per force to lead life with the label of terrorism.
The first case is that of Muhammad Afroz Abdur Razzaq. He was arrested by police under POTA after charging him as an agent of Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. After the 9/11 attack in USA, he was arrested under the anti-terrorist law in India. He had obtained pilot’s training in Australia. Police accused that he along with his colleagues was about to explode bombs in London’s Parliament and in Australia on the 9/11 pattern. After remaining in jail for six months, one day the official prosecutor Ujjawal Nikam himself told the court that he has no solid proof against the accused and that this is a case of human error. A correspondent talked to Afroz on mobile but when he  realised that an effort is being made to know from him something about this case, he switched off his phone. But Afroz’s father invited the correspondent to his residence. In reply to a question about people’s attitude towards him (Afroz’s father), he said that people in the whole area (Cheeta Camp) had started hating him. If people saw him approaching them, they gestured from a distance not to see them. His elder son Farooq’s children were being dubbed in school as terrorist’s children. Abdur Razzaq said that he and his family members can never forget the ignominy and humiliation that they had to face. Afroz left the Cheeta Camp area where he was born and brought up. According to Abdur Razzaq, police torture and rigours of jail life had made him mentally sick and now he no longer meets people. At night during sleep he suddenly wakes up and begins to mumble that they are coming to arrest me, etc.

Another such person, Atif Nasir Mulla was arrested by Mumbai police from Padgha village in Borivali area on the charges of terrorism and implicated him in the Ghatkopar blast case but subsequently it withdrew his name from that case. After doing his MBA, Atif was employed in an American company. He was arrested at the gate of a famous pharmaceutical company when after being successful in an interview he was going to sign a job contract. Atif’s father Nasir Mulla in reply to a question said while remembering those days that people stopped entering into marriage relationship with people in his village. He has the business of supplying timber but when people heard about the arrest of his son, they started keeping a distance from him. Those who had placed orders for supply of timber, cancelled their orders because of which he suffered huge losses. He said that since he was a businessman, his condition did not become so bad as would be the case of a poor man in such circumstances. After spending two and a half years in jail, Atif came back home when the police withdrew Ghatkopar bomb blast case against him and his seven colleagues.

Atif says that like every youngman he too had his dreams and aspirations to lead a prosperous and peaceful life. In order not to be away from his family, earlier he had turned down a lucrative job offer from an American company, but now he has given up dreaming knowing full well that he cannot get a job in any good company because he now has the label of a terrorist on his forehead. Now he helps his father in his business. His social life too has been badly affected; he is no longer a ‘social’ man now and rarely meets other people nor do they like to meet him as before.

Another person who is affected by police and administration’s attitude is Dr Abdul Mateen who too was arrested by police in the Ghatkopar blast case but was acquitted by the court in the absence of satisfactory and solid proofs against him. Being a specialist in forensic science, he was employed as a lecturer in a government hospital. He was very often presented by police to depose in courts but after his arrest and acquittal not to talk of society, even the police department did not restore to him the honour and position of which he was deprived by the misdeeds of the police department. When he was interviewed by a correspondent, instead of saying anything he too preferred to maintain silence but his lawyer, Mobeen Solkar, spoke about his case. According to Solkar, Dr Mateen is a thoroughly disappointed man now and has lost all hopes. As he cannot get a decent job anywhere, he has opened his own clinic to support his family. After his jail life and the stigma of a terrorist, even though false and baseless, his whole life and personality has changed.

According to Dr Sajid Khan, a psychologist, the mental attitude of such people changes because after passing through such conditions, these people become victims of  chronic and acute psychic ailments. It becomes difficult for these people to adjust in society. After being labelled as terrorist it becomes difficult for them to lead a normal life. They know that they were innocent and many people in society also know that they are not terrorists but even then they shun such people because of the fear that they too may become suspects in the eyes of the police. Because of this, such people keep themselves away from society and gradually become victims of many psychological diseases and phobia, depression, mental tension etc. It therefore becomes necessary for them to be taken out of such sickening atmosphere.

There are hundreds of people like Afroz, Atif Nasir and Dr Abdul Mateen who are victims of such deplorable situation. Even after being honourably acquitted by courts, they cannot remove the label of terrorism even if they want to, nor can they muster the courage to file cases against the police which spoilt their lives. (Translated from  BBCurdu.com report published in Hindustan Express Urdu daily, Delhi, 16 April 2010)

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 May 2010 on page no. 1

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