Terror suspects families cry foul over arrests


Bangalore: The families of 11 terror suspects apprehended in Karnataka Friday expressed shock and disbelief over their arrests on charges of links with banned terror outfits Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Harkat-ul-Jihad-e-Islam (Huji) and plotting terror attacks in the state.

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“We are at a loss to understand why my third son, Zafar Iqbal, was whisked away from our house at Hubli without intimation or warrant though he is innocent and has no link with any terror outfit,” Sheikh Rafiq Ahmed told reporters here.

Of the 11 accused, six from Bangalore are Shoaib Ahmed Mirza (25), Abdullah alias Abdul Hakim Jamdar (25), Izaz Mohammed Mirza (25), Mohammed Yosuf Nalaband (28), Riyaz Ahmed Byahatti (28) and Muthi-ur-Rehman Siddiqui (26).

The remaining five from Hubli, 430 km from here, are Obedullah Imran Bahaddur (24), Mohammed Sadik Lashkar (28), Waheed Hussein (26), Mehboob Bagalokote (26) and Iqbal.

The suspects have been charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1963, and various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Arms Act.

All the accused were sent to 14 days police custody for further investigations, after they were produced before a local court late Thursday.

The arrests were made by the Karnataka Police for allegedly plotting to assassinate leading state politicians, journalists and a media baron in collusion with their handlers in Saudi Arabia.

Refuting the charges levelled by police, Sakina Bee, mother of Jamdar, wailed that her son was the only bread winner in the family and a devout Muslim who came up the hard way in life.

“I learnt about the arrest of my son in Hubli from his friends Thursday, as I live at Bagalkote (490 km from Bangalore) and had not met him after the Eid recently (Aug 19). He last spoke to me Monday (Aug 27). As his mother, I can boldly assert that he is innocent and has no connection with anyone, least of all organisations like police have mentioned,” Bee lamented.

Echoing Bee, A.M. Mirza, father of Izaz and Shoaib, said the family was shocked over the arrest of his two sons in Bangalore on charges that were “unbelievable”.

“My elder son (Izaz) studied engineering and joined DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) in Bangalore as a junior scientist early this year (January) and younger son (Shoaib) is studying in MCA (masters in computer applications).

“Both the brothers are studious and hard working. They never gave us an impression being associated or involved in any unlawful activities. We are devastated by their sudden arrest without warrant or court order,” Mirza, a railway employee at Hubli, lamented.

Similarly, Hubli-based Attawur Rehman was bitter over the arrest of his elder brother Siddiqui, a journalist with a Bangalore-based English daily, and sought the help of media, civil society and social organisations in getting him freed at the earliest.

“After the death of our parents five-six years ago, Muthi-ur Rehman came to Bangalore to do post-graduate diploma in journalism and joined the English daily (Deccan Herald) as a reporter. We just can’t believe that he could be involved in such activities as he lives simply and works hard to make both ends meet,” Rehman said.

The families also accused police of not informing them about their wards and on what grounds they were arrested.

“We have sent telegrams to governor (H.R. Bhardwaj), chief minister (Jagadish Shettar), deputy chief minister (R. Ashoka, who holds the home portfolio) and Karnataka High Court Chief Justice Vikramjit Sen on the illegal arrest of our youth and their immediate release as they are innocent and not involved in any anti-national activity,” said All India Human Rights Organisation convener Irshad Ahmed said.

The families were consulting lawyers and Islamic organisations to file a habeas corpus plea in the high court.