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The Rediff Special/George Iype in Nooranad village
'I don't want to be called the father of a traitor'
June 21, 2004
"Can my son become a terrorist because he married a Muslim girl and converted to Islam?" asks M R Gopinatha Pillai at his home in Nooranad village in Kerala's Alappuzha district.
Nearly a week after the killing of his son Pranesh Kumar alias Javed Ghulam Sheik, his place is flooded with relatives, friends and neighbours.
"My son is the victim of a fake encounter. My son was a gentleman. He was my best friend. Last month when he came here he brought two shirts -- one for me and one for him. He was wearing the same shirt when he was shot dead," Pillai weeps as he speaks.
A chronic diabetic who underwent heart surgery
two years ago, Pillai cannot believe that the Gujarat police killed his son because he was a Lashkar-e-Tayiba terrorist.
Javed, 32, was one among four people killed for allegedly plotting to assassinate Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. Also among the dead was a college girl from Mumbai, Ishrat Jahan Sheikh.
"If innocents are being killed by the police to help politicians to survive, then there is no democracy in India. I will fight the killing of my son till the end of my life," says Pillai.
According to Pillai, who settled in Nooranad after working many years in Pune, the police suspicion was based on the fact that his son was a Muslim. He says his son converted to Islam eight years ago to marry Fajeeda, the girl he loved. "Though initially I did not like the idea, I did not oppose his marriage because for me his happiness was more important than his religion," says the father.
"Because he married a Muslim girl and because he converted to Islam, he had a lot of Muslim friends and relatives. That does not make my son a terrorist. Yes, if the police can conclusively prove that he was indeed a terrorist, he deserved to be killed. But this is all a cooked-up story. This cover-up should be investigated."
Pillai says Javed used to come to Kerala with his wife and three children. He started his career repairing power cables in Pune. Thereafter, he went to Saudi Arabia and worked for some years before returning to Pune.
There he opened a textile and perfume shop. He also undertook a cable business and earned good money, according to Pillai.
Javed also funded his father's bypass operation and helped him invest in a five-acre rubber-cum-coconut plantation in Nooranad.
Pillai says the Tata Indica in which he was travelling with his friends when the police shot them belonged to Javed.
"He came to Kerala last month in this car. He took me to the nearby temples in it," reveals Pillai.
He argues that Javed could never become a terrorist because he had "this generous and humanitarian mind to embrace Islam to just marry a girl. We are from a traditional Hindu family. He converted to get married to the girl he love so much. He can never become a communal extremist."
This week, Pillai will submit a memorandum to President A P J Abdul Kalam and Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh asking them to hand over the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation.
"I want the country to know the truth. I don't want to be called the father of a traitor."