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The process of rehabilitation of the Muslim youth who were alleged as terrorists, providing them justice and paying them compensation was only half way through the hearing in the Supreme Court, when all over again the fresh arrests of educated Muslim youth began in South India after tagging them as terrorists. Within a span of a few days, many highly educated Muslim youth who had under taken great pains and put in lot of efforts in pursuing their education and achieving success in their career were arrested in Karnataka, Andhra and Maharashtra. Usually it is seen that once a Muslim youngster is arrested in the name of terrorism, any proof regarding his innocence is ignored by media and public and they are assumed to be guilty even in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary.
A week or so ago, the Supreme Court had accepted an application for hearing which was sent by the Jamiat-ul-Ulema under the guardianship of Moulana Irshad Madani and had also sent notices to various states seeking answers from them. This had built the hope that after this at least, the police and security agencies will be more cautious. But it is proving futile to even hope in the atmosphere of hatred, discrimination and intolerance against Muslims, which has been prevailing in this nation for ages. The arrests of more than a dozen Muslim youth in the BJP ruled Karnataka, has spread a new kind of terror in the nation. All those arrested were highly educated, aged between 20 to 30 years. They were alleged as terrorists and were arrested after blaming them of plotting the murder of some BJP leaders and some media personalities in Karnataka. A MBBS doctor, a scientist, a reporter and an engineer are among those arrested. Remarkably, this claim of busting the ‘vast module’ of terrorism came immediately following the sentencing of the criminals of Naroda Patia massacre in Gujarat. The perception goes that these were planned arrests in order to sway public attention and cool down the rage that erupted in some quarters on sentences announced as a consequence of the hearing of Naroda Patia massacre.
The basic question which pops up is that, if these arrested youngsters were involved in a murder plot of any of the BJP leaders or the reporters, then how does it relate to terrorism in any way? Even if they are proven guilty of the act, at most they would be charged with being involved in criminal activities. But these arrests are portrayed in such a way, as if the police have been successful in disclosing some huge and dangerous terrorist network. The tragedy is that, to confirm these arrests and make them seem rational, the highest office bearer of the central home ministry claimed that these youngsters were involved in targeting some of the nuclear and defense agencies of the nation. There is a possibility that this blame was made on the basis of one of the arrested persons, Ajaz Ahmed who was working as a computer engineer in DRDO, which is an organization related central defense. When the arrest of this youngster was unnecessarily highlighted in the media, the company itself declared that the alleged was not reachable to any sensitive material inside the company. But the Karnataka police purposely did not confirm the sensational declaration made by the Central Defense Secretary. When media persons questioned the higher officials of Bangalore police whether the arrested persons were plotting an attack on any nuclear or defense organization of the nation, he ambiguously answered that the defense secretary knows better about it.
The arrested youth belonged to poor families and they had completed their education after lot of efforts and hard work. The tearful parents had pleaded that their children were innocent and said that it was a plot against them, intended to destroy their careers and intentionally demonize Islam and Muslims. But the police is unaffected by all those pleas and arrests continued in Maharashtra and Hyderabad even after these episodes.
If the arrested youth are really part of a criminal network then nobody should have any soft corner for them. But if they are trapped as part of an ulterior plot, then the concern of all the Muslim organizations, leaders and the human right officials for these youngsters are completely rational and the redressal of the same is the foremost duty of the government and all the security agencies.
A group of some of the Muslim leaders of Karnataka had arranged a meeting with the Central Home Minister Susheel Kumar Shinde and made him aware about the facts and had also requested him to provide justice to the victims, but it has not yielded any results as yet.
To make matters worse these Muslim youth are arrested and labeled as terrorists. Then there is the media which in its penchant for sensationalism is more than eager to ride the police version of every story and knows that it will attract more eyeballs for a guilty story than an innocent one. The trial by media follows, which of course is the lop-sided as it follows just one version of the story and toes the police line. Media wears the hat of the prosecutor and the judge, there is no defense. The verdict is always ‘guilty’. That it destroys an innocent person’s life is none of their concern. Its only objective is to churn out new stories that can make headlines for 2-3 days in a row. Then the wait begins for another ‘breaking news’. It leaves no stone unturned to link unrelated incidents and people. Later, as the due course of law takes its time; the police obviously fail to provide any solid proof against these alleged terrorists in the courts which were arrested in the first place on flimsy grounds and unfounded evidence. Hundreds of such youth have been released by courts after declaring them innocent. However, they spend the prime of their youth in police custody and jails where they languish and are meted inhumane torture for a number of years. But the most unfortunate part of this is, once somebody is tagged as a terrorist and even after they are proven innocent, generally people disassociate themselves with such individuals and their career as well as public life is destroyed. Till date nobody has questioned the biased and discriminating police officials and security agencies who have destroyed the lives of so many innocent Muslim youth and are continuing to do so.
The free investigations behind the arrests of Muslim youth in and around Bangalore have revealed that these youngsters were in fact angry with one of the right leaning newspapers, who had played with the sentiments of Muslims by publishing a sketch of Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) in the month of Ramadan. It is believed that the crime of these arrested youth was only that they had warned the editor of that particular Kannada newspaper and few political leaders against the published report. The newspaper had later apologized for the same and the matter had come to an end. But the police, acting on the orders of their political lords arrested these youngsters. The police did not stop here, but following their orders, they connected these alleged youth to some international terrorist network and highlighted the issue in the entire nation.
Arresting the innocent Muslim youth in the BJP ruled states by alleging them as terrorists has been an old trend now. It was initiated by the Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi. He had termed the fire break out on the Sabarmati Express at the Godhra station as a terrorist act and arrested some 200 innocent Muslims under POTA and charged them with the crime of national enmity. The court had later released the majority of them after finding them innocent. Later hundreds of Muslims were killed in staged encounters after tagging them as terrorists. They were blamed of having connections with LeT and also that they had come to Ahmadabad with the plan of killing the chief minister Narendra Modi.
It is common knowledge that Karnataka is the only state in south India which is ruled by the BJP, and even here, they had come to power after igniting the spark of communal disturbance in the state. It has strengthened its vote bank by giving air to the issue of Hubli Eidgah. Later it tried to connect the Muslims of Hubli with terrorism in the name of bomb blasts. Moreover, Muslims were blamed for the terror and tension in the state in the name of hoisting the Pakistani Flag in Sindhagi, and the votes were collected on that basis. But later it was revealed that this was the mischief of the Shri Rama Sene activists who had done the act to trap Muslims in the state.
And now, when the BJP is on the verge of losing its hold in Karnataka, it is again trying to regain its position by targeting innocent Muslims and playing communal games. Innocent educated Muslims are first in the line of fire. What follows is anybody’s guess.