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Mumbai police: forget ISI, now Muslims are Al-Qaeda agents
By MH Lakdawala

Mumbai: Strange behaviour of Mumbai police has once again angered the Muslims of the city. In the past the Mumbai Police frequently arrested Muslims, innocent as well as petty criminals and booked them on the cooked up charges of having link with the notorious ISI of Pakistan. After Sept 11 the Mumbai Police has one more pretext to harass Muslim that is link with Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda.

Recently Mumbai Police arrested Trombay resident Abdul Razak Mohammad Afroz, a 26-year-old, on the suspicion of belonging to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist group. They successively framed him in four separate cases so they could keep him for questioning, according to reliable sources. 

The sources say the police suspect Afroz, a certified commercial pilot, of planning to hijack a commercial airliner in the UK and crashing it into the House of Commons on September 11, the same day as the attacks on the World Trade Center (WTC) in New York and the Pentagon, Washington, DC. 

However, they believed he developed cold feet and returned to India on September 12. After arriving at Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi, he went to Goa and then returned to Maharashtra.Reliable sources said that since there was no provision to book Razak under the Indian Penal Code, he was falsely accused in an extortion case by the Vashi police. 

Police case is based merely on the fact that it had, recovered pilot training certificates awarded to Razak by Australian, American and London flying clubs and also the recovery of the passbooks of three to four foreign bank accounts and a Visa card. He could become the first person charged in Maharashtra under the newly passed Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (POTO). The Mumbai police are keeping the case under wraps, refusing to give even a reason for why Afroz is in custody. 

Police, politicians and bureaucrats, oblivious of the impact on the psyche of the Muslim community are giving contradictory statements. Pradeep Sawant, Mumbai deputy commissioner of police (Detection), said, "It is absolutely false and baseless that he is part of the WTC attacks. There is nothing to indicate his involvement with the WTC attacks." However, a senior official in the state home department said, "Afroz received training to be a commercial pilot in Australia and London. The police had specific information about his links with al Qaeda." 

Meanwhile, Afroz's elder brother, Mohammed Farookh (35), claims that the Vashi police picked up Afroz for being involved in a case that has something to do with his affair with a bar girl. "We have no complaints against the police. Muslims are being suspected after the attacks in the US," said Farookh. Farookh said his own visits abroad were business trips and had no connection with terrorism. Farookh remains evasive about trips made to London and Australia. "The police has the passports and confirms the visits," was his quiet reply. 

The family is also reluctant to speak about Afroz's educational background and won't provide a photograph of him. "We are under tremendous pressure. Please leave us alone," said a frightened Abdul Razak. 
He has been in custody for the past two months while police carry out investigations linked to robbery, officials said. Kripashankar Singh, junior home minister in the state of Maharashtra, said, "Investigations are on. It hinges on whether he has links with al Qaeda or any other group." "There is no case, no offence (found yet)," a senior police official, who declined to be named, told MILLI GAZETTE. None of the officials would say why the man was now being investigated for alleged links to al Qaeda. 
Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal, who also holds Home portfolio, said that he would not comment over the matter."Why is the media blowing up the issue concerning national security in a haphazard manner?" Bhujbal said when his attention was drawn to media reports about the arrested man's plan to strike at the House of Commons. 
The psych of the city after the 92-93 riots had been ruptured. Mumbai till then a land of opportunity and amity between the different strata of the society. But after the riots it turned to be a requiem for a voice of sanity and peaceful co-existence 
The growth of communal forces like the Shiv Sena and the BJP in Maharashtra, their rabid anti-minority campaign and the discrimination by police against Muslims is making Muslims more and more insecure.The issue of the police bias against Muslims was raised and documented by the Srikrishna Commission of inquiry for their alleged role in the Mumbai riots of 1992-93. 

Srikrishna Commission which had categorically stated that, the "police are biased against the Muslims" and had suggested that measures be taken for the "de-communalization of the police force." 

Justice Srikrishna Commission has pointed out how the police response during the 92-93 riots, to Muslims' appeals was "cynical and utterly indifferent". It says," on occasions the response was that they were unable to leave the appointed position for others, the attitude was that one Muslim killed was one Muslim less." Muslims were given "harsh and brutal treatment sometimes bordering on inhuman (behavior)."Registered riot-related cases were "unsatisfactorily investigated" showing lack of enthusiasm, lackadaisical approach and utter cynicism. Clues were not chased if the suspects happened to be "Hindus with connections to Shiv Sena." 

The Maharastra State Minorities Commission recently recommended to the state government to give the proportionate representation to Muslims in the police force. According to Amin Khandwani, chairperson of the State Minorities Commission, the low proportion of Muslim and other minorities in the state police force is one of the reasons for the police being biased against the Muslims.

The figure released by the Maharastra State Minorities Commission revealed that of the 392 officers of the rank of assistant commissioner and above only seven belong to minority communities. The representation should be in proportion to the population of the communities, said Amin Khandwani. 

Of the 73,879 police constables in the state, Muslims number 3,201, (4.33%), Christians 403, (0.54%), Buddhists 3197 (4.32), Sikhs 26 (0.03%) and Jains 83 (0.11%). The Commission demanded that minority community members must be placed on the panel to select police constable." Out of the 392 deputy superintendent of police/ assistant commissioner of police only 7 i.e. 1.78 % are Muslim. Out of the 2526 police inspector only 110 i.e. 4.35% are Muslims. Of the 7797 assistant sub inspector only 391 or 5% are Muslims. 

The insensitive methods of dealing with such types of cases only make Muslim feel more insecure. The careless manner in which police link Muslims to ISI and Al Qaeda strengthens the stereotype image about the Muslims in the mind of other communities.

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