PUCL report punches holes in ‘Phulwari Sharif Terror Module’ case, blames media for vilifying ‘Muslim community’

PUCL Bihar Unit releasing their report on Phulwari Sharif Terror Module case. | Picture by author

A seven-page report released by a civil rights group People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL) in Patna has dismissed terror allegations against the accused Muslim youth.

Sami Ahmad | TwoCircles.net

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PATNA (BIHAR) — Dismissing the claims of Patna police about an alleged terror module in Phulwari Sharif, civil rights group People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL), Bihar state unit in its fact-finding report has stated that “prima facie no terror activities were being undertaken in Phulwari Sharif area of Patna district.” 

In July, the police registered two first information reports (FIRs) and arrested four persons under “anti-national activities” charges. The arrests were carried out just before the visit of prime minister Narendra Modi to Patna. The case was later taken over by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

One of the FIRs accused one person of being a member of the Popular Front of India (PFI) and “running arms training in the garb of martial arts.” The second FIR named one Muslim youth accusing him of “running an anti-India WhatsApp group”. The family of the latter dismissed the claims of the police saying their son is “mentally unwell” and “cannot possibly be involved in terror activities.” 

Phulwari Sharif arrests: Marghoob Danish’s family refutes police claims

Advocate Kumaresh, who was part of the PUCL fact-finding team, told TwoCircles.net that “Marghoob (the mentally unwell youth) needs to be treated according to his mental illness needs.”

Released on August 18 in Patna, the seven-page report stated, “that the media misreported the so-called terror act and the police issued misleading statements which have caused animosity between the communities, otherwise living cordially.” 

The fact-finding team said that the media has vilified the Muslim community by reporting irresponsibly and indulging in tabloid journalism. The team objected to the use of terms by media like “terror module”, “Atank Ki Phulwari” (haven of terror, word Phulwari was used dubiously) and “Atank Ki Pathshala” even though, “NIA has not slapped UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act). 

News agency ANI had reported that UAPA was slapped in the Phulwari Sharif case. The ANI report proved incorrect as NIA has simply reiterated the local police FIRs under the same sections and not slapped UAPA.

The fact-finding report states that “the organizations, PFI and SDPI were not banned and the alleged members were arrested just because the said organizations worked for a particular community.”

It stated that the FIR vaguely states the training of Astra-Shastra (arms) but the place where the alleged training was going on according to the police is so densely populated that no such thing was possible. 

The team said that they asked the police about this but “they (police) did not clarify what it meant by Ashtra-Shastra.”

They said that the fact-finding team visited the office of ASP Manish Kumar twice but on both occasions, they could not meet him. “The SHO of Phulwari Sharif told us that he was not authorized to talk on the issue,” they said. 

On July 13, ASP Kumar issued a press release accusing Athar Parvez and Mohammad Jalaluddin of “anti-India activities.”

Jalaluddin, a retired policeman, had rented his house to Athar Parvez but he too was alleged of being a member of PFI along with Athar, the team said.

The team said that they tried to meet the family members of the two accused Athar and Jalal but “no one was ready to talk.” 

Family members of the other accused Arman Mallick met the only female member of the PUCL team, Priti Sinha and denied all the allegations. 

The team met a local Suresh Ji. According to the team, “He said that he had never heard of seen any such terror activities as are being floated in the media.” 

The team also visited Sangat Par, a local temple which has been in the news as being situated in the communally tense locality. “The team talked to the Pujari and the secretary of the temple. They told us that they got information about the Phulwari case mostly from the media,” the team said.

The team stated that the whole incident is being used to vitiate and polarize the Hindu and Muslim communities and create fear in their minds. 

In its recommendations, the report called for the media to be held accountable for running such stories which vilified a community. “Press Council of India and other such organizations must look into it and take action accordingly,” they said.  

The report recommended that “the police department should be more careful in cases like these and should only state what they are sure of.”

It urged the members of civil society to come forward and conduct peace meetings. 

Sarfaraz Ahmad, general secretary of PUCL, Bihar told TwoCircles.net that “they would be writing to the press bodies and editors also to be more responsible while reporting such police cases.” 

“This report would be sent to the government too,” he added.


Sami Ahmad is a journalist based in Patna, Bihar. He tweets at @samipkb