Thursday, January 14, 2010
I Like To Be Free
Moulana Naseeruddin was acquitted along with 12 others by a Gujarat Prevention of Terrorist Activities court on Wednesday in an Inter Services Intelligence backed terror conspiracy case allegedly to avenge the post-Godhra communal riots in Gujarat.
Naseeruddin spent five years in jail before being granted bail in September by the Supreme Court. The apex court, while imposing a couple of conditions, had also directed the lower court hearing the original case to expedite the trial against Naseeruddin and the other co-accused in the case.
The POTA court in Gujarat acquitted Naseeruddin and 12 others for want of evidence or by giving them the benefit of doubt.
In all there were 44 accused, most of them from Hyderabad, who were booked in the case, out of which 13 were acquitted and 22 convicted.
Naseeruddin, who is a free man today, reached his home in Hyderabad on Thursday. He says that he is relieved but also sad that several youths who were acquitted along with him had languished in jail for nearly six years for no fault of theirs and in the bargain lost out on what he called a 'promising future.'
In an exclusive interview with rediff.com's Vicky Nanjappa, Naseeruddin speaks about the case against him while equating the Gujarat police to the Israeli police. He also goes on to state that for the trauma that the Gujarat police have meted out against him and the others, they should be punished.
How does it feel to be free finally?
I was happy when the Supreme Court had granted me bail. But today after hearing the verdict, I really feel free. All I can say is that I am happy and I thank almighty for this.
The judgment gave you a benefit of doubt before acquitting you. What are your thoughts on it?
Yes, that is correct, I was given the benefit of doubt. What I would like to point out here is that I am, and was always, innocent. It was a false case lodged against me. I had raised my voice against the injustice being meted out against Muslims and in the bargain got cornered. When I first heard the verdict, I was happy, but then I thought I should have been acquitted of a false case being filed against me. However, what has happened has happened. I am happy.
You have said on several occasions that the Gujarat police had been very unfair with you. What do you have to say about them today?
I would compare them to the police of Israel. Despite me telling them several times, they kept insisting that I had instigated the youth to resort to violence on the basis of the Gujarat riots. When I was in their custody, they were in denial about the occurrence of any violence post the Godhra incident.
I had said earlier too that the Gujarat police wanted me to believe that there was no violence and the Hindus and the Muslims were living in harmony and all the atrocities against Muslims was all media managed.
I did not believe what they said. There is an immense pain within me when I think of the way several Muslim youth have been treated by the Gujarat police. I am sure they will pay for their sins in this life, and if that does not happen, I believe that there is a God above who will ensure that they are punished for being so unfair.
Did the Gujarat police torture you?
The members of your community in Hyderabad term you as a firebrand leader who is not afraid to raise his voice. However, will that change now? Are you scared of being booked again?
I am not afraid. I maintain that a false case was filed against me and I did no wrong. I will continue to fight against injustice against Muslims. It is only if we raise our voices will there be some justice. I think of all the youth who have been falsely implicated and looking at their plight, I feel that I should not buckle down and must continue to raise my voice.
Your three sons are in custody in different states. All have been accused in cases pertaining to terrorism. You must have your hands full now to fight their battle.
Yes, that is correct. I will fight for my sons since I believe that they are innocent. Two of them are in Indore and one in Karnataka. I shall not give up on them as long as I believe that they are innocent, which I am sure they are.
You have spent five years in jail before being acquitted. Will you sue the Gujarat police?
I think I ought to claim compensation for being falsely charged and kept behind bars. However, I am more concerned about the rest of the youth who were in jail along with me and were acquitted. These boys were in their early 30s and most of them are not even married.
They had a bright future ahead of them, and thanks to this case, that is gone. Who will marry these boys and who will give them jobs? I feel that these boys ought to be compensated and I think they deserve it more than me since they need to set up a life for themselves. We are in consultation with our lawyer and he will decide on how to go about this issue.
Have any political parties come forward to help fight your battle?
No. None of the parties have come forward. However, we did not expect any political support either. We have to rise against injustice and we need to raise this voice on our own. We don't have the political support to create some pressure on the police to leave innocent people alone. This is our battle and we need to fight it on our own.