November 25, 2020
They were earning livelihood working as tailors, electricians, masons and workers. The one who is being said to be head of the group has a mental problem
Waquar Hasan | Clarion India
NEW DELHI/KOLKATA — A fact-finding team, which visited the houses of the 10 Bengal Muslims who were arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on 19 September for alleged connections with terror outfit Al-Qaeda, learnt that most of the suspects are from extremely poor families.
They were earning livelihood working as tailors, electricians, masons and workers. The one who is being said to be head of the group has a mental problem.
Ten suspected Al-Qaeda operatives from West Bengal’s Murshidabad district were arrested by NIA in September. Seven were held from the district while three were arrested in Kerala’s Ernakulam district.
While six of the men were held from Murshidabad on September 19 and three in Kerala, one man was arrested six days later. All the accused were later flown to Delhi for remand and interrogation.
According to the FIR lodged in their case, NIA claimed that these suspects were inspired by Al-Qaeda and they were planning anti-national and terrorist activities at several places of India, including Bengal, Delhi and Kerala.
“A group of jihadi terrorists inspired by globally-proscribed terrorist organisation, Al-Qaeda, consisting of more than 10 members mostly of Bengal origin and operating from different parts of the country is planning anti national/terrorist activities at several locations in India but not limited to West Bengal, Delhi and Kerala,” claimed NIA in the FIR.
They were booked under Sections 17, 18, 18B, 20& 38 of anti-terror law UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act).
A team of activists associated with Association for Protection Civil Rights, along with the Association for Protection of Democratic Rights and the Bondi Mukti Committee, visited the area of suspects, talked to their family members and neighbours about them in Murshidabad. A three-member team comprising Abdus Samad, Imtiage Ali and Saif Ali gathered information related to the suspects and their arrests.
The family members told the team that an NIA team along with the local police and BSF jawans raided their houses around dawn. They broke into some of their houses, searched for more than half an hour.
Some of the family members said that they were beaten up by the security forces. They said that they were not told about the reasons for the arrests and were not shown the things they were confiscating from their houses. Some of them said they were made to sign a white paper and empty poly packets (The packet in which confiscated items are kept).
Even as West Bengal minister Siddiqullah Chowdhury has demanded the immediate and unconditional release of the 10 suspects, saying the arrests were an attempt to humiliate Muslims, the fact-finding team also gathered a lot of information about the poor suspects:
Murshid Hasan (25), who was accused of heading the jihadi terrorist group, is a resident of Kalinagar village in Murshidabad district. He has studied up to Class V. His father is a farmer. Murshid used to work as a mason in the village. One year ago, he went to work as a mason in Kerala. The NIA team arrested him from Kerala. He has a little mental problem. Its treatment was going on in Berhampur.
His mother said her son could never be a terrorist. “What we are saying or what the villagers are saying is not being published or aired by the media. It is publishing false information about her son. The condition of our house is very bad, we go hungry for days. If my son was a terrorist, would we be in this situation?,” she asked.
Saif Ali, a member of fact-finding team, told Clarion India that Murshid’s friend Habibur Rahman told him that he was beaten up and forced to say by the NIA officers that Murshid used to send him Al-Qaeda related-videos and asked him to join terror outfit. But Habibur Rahman told him these are lies. This happened at Charvadra BSF camp on 29, 30 and 31 October. Murshid’s brother Sohail Rana also said that he was beaten up and forced to say that his brother was associated with a terror group and used to send Al-Qaeda-related videos.
Another suspect, Liue Yean Ahmed (36), who lives in Jayrampur village in Murshidabad district, is a casual worker in the electrical department of Domkal Basantapur College. He lives in extreme poverty in a shabby tile hut with his elderly mother, a sister who had left her husband’s house and the sister’s daughter. After finishing his job in the college, he used to go from house to house and work as an electrician.
Liue’s mother cried and said her son was completely innocent. The NIA forcibly entered her house, picked up his son and beat him. They then searched the house for about 30 minutes and confiscated his admit card, marksheet, and mobile set. “They didn’t get anything else from our house but lied to the media that they found a bomb making equipment,” she said.
His sister said that since her brother used to work as an electrician, there were some electric tools which were shown by NIA as bomb-making devices.
Liue’s neighbours, who praised his behavior and character, did not believe that Liue was associated with the terrorist organisation. They said Liue dids not smoke a single cigarette. “How can he be a terrorist? The media is spreading lies about him. How can a revolver be found in his toolbox when Liue’s motorcycle had no toolbox?”
Another suspect, Al Mamun Kamal from Naodapara village under Domkal in Murshidabad, used to work as a migrant worker in Kerala. For the last two years, he has been working as a tailor in the village. Occasionally, he also worked as a mason. He used to teach Arabic to some children by building a small shed near his house. He used to collect donations from time to time to turn it into a madrasa.
Al Mamun’s wife said his husband was completely innocent. She said the NIA team broke the door to enter her house and then arrested her husband. “They searched all the houses and found Hadith books, madrasa coupons, his voter card, aadhaar card, and a mobile phone. They got nothing more”.
“My husband was picked up by NIA despite not finding anything in our house. My husband doesn’t have a smart phone. How will he use WhatsApp?” she asked.
Al Mamun’s father, Md Faraz Ali, joined the Indian Army in 1962 as a volunteer soldier during the China-Indian war. “I fought for the country. My son Al Mamun has my blood. He can never act as a traitor to the country,” he said.
Mainul Mandal, who is a resident of Madhubana village under Jalangi in Murshidabad, used to work in a restaurant in Kerala along with his three brothers. NIA confiscated his voter card, aadhaar card, and two mobile phones, one of which belonged to his mother. His neighbours questioned his arrest and rejected allegations of terror connections.
Yakub Biswas, who lives in Madhubana village in Murshidabad district, used to work in a restaurant in Kerala along with his brothers. He studied up to primary school and can’t sign his name correctly. The owner of the restaurant informed his father Ibrahim Biswas in Murshidabad about his arrest on 19 September.
Abu Sufian, who is a resident of Kalinagar Madhyapara village under Raninagar in Murshidabad, worked as a tailor and also farmed a couple of bighas of land. Besides, he loved to do house carpentry, brick making etc. He was busy practising religion at home. He is a diabetic patient. Sufian has four sons. The eldest son is 15 years old who works as a welder.
His wife said the NIA team knocked on the door and broke into the house. Then they beat her husband with iron rods and even the baby boys. They searched all the houses and confiscated his welding machine, tin cutting saws, some chocolate bombs which her little boy bought in Eid, bank pass books and a mobile phone.
She said that in the media, her husband was being linked to the Al-Qaeda which is a completely false propaganda. The network that is being talked about through the WhatsApp group is also a complete lie. “The internet connection in our house is not working properly. How will he use WhatsApp?” she asked and added that the propaganda of sending lakhs of rupees to the bank account from the terrorist organisation was a complete lie and one could check the bank account. She said that the propaganda in the media about building a tunnel at her home was actually a hole made for the purpose of building a toilet chamber.