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From Azamgarh, hence a Terrorist!

Submitted by admin4 on 27 September 2011 - 11:54am ArticlesIndian Muslim By Mahtab Alam, Mahfooz Ahmed, barely 21 years old, hails from Rasoolabad village of Azamgarh, a district of eastern Uttar Pradesh. A second year student of Bachelor of Arts at the towns Shibli National College, Mahfooz also works at his college as a watchm an of its guest house, in order to support his studies, since his family finds i t difficult to make their ends meet. On 22nd of September this year, he was sent to Varanasi by his college authorities to get some Audit forms for the college, which was undergoing the process of some audits and the requisite forms were ne ither available in the college nor anywhere else in Azamgarh. By evening, Mahfoo z had managed to collect the forms and was getting ready to catch a bus for the return trip. He informed the college authorities accordingly. But, he was nowher e to be seen the next day. Worried college authorities and family members tried contacting him but to no avail as his mobile turned out to be switched off. Meanwhile, the next day, a few of the local TV channels flashed the news of Mahf ooz being detained by the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) from Varanasi, Uttar Prades h. It was claimed in the media reports that he was detained by the ATS while tak ing pictures of the Hotel Taj in the Cantonment area of Varanasi, though, till t he last minute, the officials denied this arrest. It was only after much public pressure that the Varanasi Police accepted that Mahfooz was under their custody. He was subsequently released after 44 hours of illegal detention. The police al leged that Mahfooz was stopped at the hotel s gate, where he was caught while ma king a video of the hotel campus and found with the possession of some Pakistani currency. According to the agencies, Mahfooz told the police that it was given to him by a person who visited Azamgarh from Pakistan!

Mahfooz did accept that he took pictures of the Hotel with prior permission, but denied all the other charges. I took photographs of the hotel with prior permiss ion from the security guards at the gate. But when they got to know that I was f rom Azamgarh, I was communally abused and branded as a terrorist before being fi nally handed over to the police, Mahfooz told Rajiv Yadav, a PUCL activist, after his release. If the police have found Pakistani currency with Mahfooz, as they c laim, why havent they produced it before a court? asks Rajiv. It is a clear case of unlawful detention and we demand a proper clarification from the police and int elligence agencies, he adds. This is not, afterall, the first time that a residen t of Azamgarh, particularly a Muslim, has been branded as a terrorist or abused and subsequently detained. In March 2009, Mohammed Ashad, an Engineering student from Azamagah, who was the n studying in Noida, was taken into custody on the grounds that he hailed from A zamgarh and that he was a Muslim. He was arrested from sector 18 of Noida, while he was driving a bike along with his friend Amar Deep Singh, and detained and i nterrogated for 24 hours. In November 2008, the members of a hockey team from Az amgarh were branded as terrorists. The team was on its way to Etawah from Kanpur on November 10th when some boys who had forgotten their jersey in the trains coa ch they were travelling in, went back to collect it. Inside, the government rail way police (GRP) personnel stopped them and asked their whereabouts. On being to ld they were from Azamgarh, the police officials detained the players and declar ed them terrorists. There are many cases like this. Rajiv believes that the police and other agencie

s are doing so, to malign the Muslim community and create a sense of fear amongs t the Muslim youth. Its nothing but communal witch-hunt and desperate attempts to give a bad name to Azamgarh, he asserts. All of this started in the wake of the en counter at Batla House in September 2008, in which two of the boys who were kille d were from Azamgarh. Thereafter, the police and the intelligence bureau officia ls started claiming that Azamgarh was slowly but surely, becoming a hotbed for te rrorist activities, which was unquestionably reported by the mainstream media hou ses. The residents demand for a judicial probe in the encounter at Batla House case by a sitting judge of supreme court is still pending and every year, they organ ise conventions and rallies to re-iterate their demand. Residents increasingly f ace problems in getting their Passports made or renewed. In my recent trip last week, I was told in a conversation with a local activist, Tarique Shafeeq that, s ince three years, hundreds of residents have been denied access to new passports or its renewal,. He further complained that, Wherever we go, we are seen suspicio usly. We have to be extra cautious. After every blast in the country, both the po lice and the media try to make some connection with Azamgarh, which has made the life of its residents more difficult.

As a result, theres a complete pall of insecurity and gloom thats been pervading i ts residents. The youth are scared and their parents afraid to send their childr en out of their homes, be it for studies or jobs. Moreover, residents of Azamgar h have been forced to vacate their rooms by landlords in Delhi and other places. Many youths have been missing. There is absolutely no knowledge of their wherea bouts. Tarique Shafiques brother, who studied para-medical sciences at Hamdard Un iversity, found it very difficult to find a place to stay in Delhi. Is it a crime to be a Muslim and a resident of Azamgarh?, asks Tarique. The Country, especiall y the State and its various agencies, need to answer this before it is too late. (MahtabAlam is Delhi based Civil Rights Activist and Journalist. He can be reach ed at activist.journalist@gmail.com) [Photos by Mahtab Alam] ShareComment viewing options Flat list - collapsedFlat list - expandedThreaded list - collapsedThreaded lis t - expanded Date - newest firstDate - oldest first 10 comments per page30 comme nts per page50 comments per page70 comments per page90 comments per page150 comm ents per page200 comments per page250 comments per page300 comments per page Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to a ctivate your changes. Are We residing in Banana Republic Submitted by Mudassir Alam (not verified) on 28 September 2011 - 2:44pm. Shame, shame, shame on Indian Government, State government and Indian Police. Th e innocent Muslim youths are targeted time and again, and after getting nothing against the police releases the youth. The illegal arreast done by police around the country is totally making the lives of affected worst, and they also get a label of terrorist......This has happened with the youths of Azamgarh, Lucknow, Varanasi, Malegaon and Hyderabad. Where is our democracy? Where is our deaf and dumb law? The govt and police have become very insensitive, and it is doing all misdeeds to save it from the criticsm.... replySharePost new comment