Destroying their lives when not killing them in encounters

Unheard & Unspoken: Terror stories from Madhya Pradesh: Part 8

By Mohd. Ismail Khan,

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This year on March 26th, Maharashtra ATS killed a man named Khaleel Khilji in an alleged encounter, and claimed to have arrested Mohammad Abraar and Mohammad Shaker during that same encounter. ATS got a tip off from their sources that terrorists involved in Ahmedabad bomb blasts are going to visit Himayat Bagh area of Aurangabad town. DCP Naveen Reddy headed the operation to nab them, according to the police, the trio reached the spot on 12:30 p.m. police asked them to surrender but alleged terrorists open fire on them injuring constable Arif sheikh, police retaliated and killed Khaleel Khilji, and wounded Shaker while Abraar was nabbed trying to escape. This was the official story.

Few hours after the encounter Maharashtra ATS declared that the man gunned down in encounter was Khaleel Khilji, an alleged Indian Mujahideen operative who was named in Ahmedabad bomb blast case. On the second day Maharashtra ATS realized that Khaleel Khilji was reportedly in his 60s and the man who is gunned down looks like a young man in his early 20s. Suddenly, ATS got into the damage-control mode and announced that gunned down youth is actually Khaleel Qureshi son of Akheel Khilji a resident of Khandwa.

Next day MP ATS arrived in Aurangabad and declared that the youth killed in the encounter was Azhar Qureshi a petty business owner from Khandwa and without any criminal record in MP, nor was he in the watch list of MP ATS. These revelations of MP ATS caused huge embarrassment for Maharashtra ATS which also raised the doubts of foul play on the part of Maharashtra ATS. To clear the doubts R.R. Patil home minister of Maharashtra announced a CID inquiry into that alleged encounter.

Police claimed that Mohammad Abraar (32) a resident of Ujjain was arrested in that same bloody encounter. Police and intelligence officials claimed arrest of Abraar as a big development in their fight against terrorism and declared him “The dreaded terrorist who was controlling the entire network of Indian Mujahideen and banned Simi in western and central India” as one intelligence officer was quoted in The Asian Age. He was also declared a mastermind of all the bank dacoities in which alleged SIMI members were arrested, and in addition to that he was also been crowned as the new master mind of Ahmedabad terror strike.

Abdul Hakeem member of Jamat-e-Islami Ujjain and father-in-law of Mohd Abraar accept that his son-in- law was an active member of SIMI, and was influenced by the organizations teachings. He even said that Abraar use to collect funds from his sources to help the families of those SIMI members who were languishing in jails awaiting trial. But he refused to accept that his son-in-law was involved in any bank dacoities or perpetrated Ahmedabad bomb blasts.

He even downplayed the whole story of encounter and Abraar’s arrest by Maharashtra ATS. He said, “Two days after his arrest I received a letter informing that my son-in-law was arrested, I along with his parents went to Aurangabad Police Crime Branch to meet him. When I saw him, at the first sight I knew he was tortured, when I asked him about the encounter and the allegation that he fired on police officers, Abraar replied that he didn’t attack any one and police had kept him in their custody.”

Interestingly even Abraar was declared injured in cross firing, but the very next day police version took a somersault and ATS declare that Abraar was nabbed unhurt during that violent cross firing and gory encounter and is in ATS custody. Police didn’t have any proper explanation that how police took control of Abraar who was firing on them, without getting him injured while one of his alleged accomplice was killed and other got bullets in both legs.

Abdul Hakeem believes that his son in law is targeted by the police, because he was the member of SIMI and use to help the families of arrested SIMI activists. He said since the organization was banned Abraar didn’t use to stay in a single place for a long time. According to Mr. Hakeem in order to evade arrest he uses to travel to different districts to do petty businesses. Abdul Hakeem said Abraar has four children, a handicapped brother, a mother and wife to take care of, he said after his arrest the sole bread earner of the family is lost.

He appealed to the Muslim leaders especially from Jamat-e-Islami and Jamait Ulema-e-Hind to raise the issue of arresting and harassment of Muslim youths in the name of SIMI and pressurize the Central Government for a CBI inquiry into that encounter incident.

This was the case of Mohd Abraar who was booked in high profile and serious cases for his relationship with SIMI, but if one wonders what will happen to a youth if he gets booked in small petty cases of SIMI for his former links with organization before it was banned then one should meet Irfan Chhipa from Indore.

Irfan Chhipa was first arrested in 2006 along with ten other youths on the charges of participating in a restaurant meeting of SIMI he spent 25 days in jail for this case. Then again in 2008 he was arrested with thirteen other youths after the arrest of Safdar Nagori and they were presented as local support for the Nagori faction of SIMI, he spent 2 months in jail before getting out on bail.

Irfan claims that both of these cases on him are false and fabricated by the police. He said “In 2006 case someone visited Indore for his case hearing in the district court, police arrested him from a restaurant and picked up nearly 10 youths from different localities of Indore and claimed that we all were conducting a meeting in a restaurant. In the next case of 2008 Safdar Nagori and others were arrested by MP police from Indore, police had to show they got local support so police arrested 13 youths from here as I was already known to them because of 2006 case I was also picked up along with others.”

He asserts that police style of arrest was not proper, he said, “They arrested me from my shop in the first case and didn’t inform any one from my family. In the next arresting they came to my house as I was in my shop they took my younger brother as a surety and released him when I reached police station, they kept me in illegal detention for 48 hours.”

He claims that his life is nearly destroyed by the police and fake cases. He said, “I had an established business but due to the fear of getting arrested from the market my family members has asked me to do some business from home itself but it is not working out. Even when we go to courts for the hearings of our cases police follow us and take us into custody in the name of questioning, now going to courts is also like taking a call of threat”. He also adds “If there is blast anywhere in the country we start feeling the effect by the visits, rounding’s and arrests by ATS and police.”

Speaking about role of MP media in framing them as terrorists he observed that media has created an environment against them in the society by presenting their petty cases as dreadful cases, and according to him he has observed the effect of false media propaganda even in jail where even inmates beat them with impunity calling them ‘Desh Drohi’ or anti-national.