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Hyderabad blasts: Muslims say they are targetted

Vicky Nanjappa in Hyderabad | August 28, 2008 15:07 IST
Last Updated: August 28, 2008 15:09 IST

For Muslims in the Old City of Hyderabad, the anger against the police seems to be growing with each passing day. A majority of the people say that the people who have suffered the most in the aftermath of the blasts are the victims and the Muslim community.

Lateef Mohammad Khan, civil rights activist, says that the Muslim youth in Hyderabad have become a target of both the Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat police. "So many innocent persons were picked up from Hyderabad and anybody who dared protest has also been framed. The Gujarat police with the help of the AP police have been taking our youth along with them and no information is given to us. When a number of women protested before the police station they were called the Shaheen Force, a wing of the Students Islamic Movement of India and cases booked against them. Among these women was a 70-year-old lady," he said.

Moutasim Billah was branded as a SIMI [Images] member. He told that everything had become a joke. "It is so funny to read the newspapers when we are branded as masterminds, commanders and conspirators. We are learning to live with it and laugh it away." Billah, an engineering student, was forced to dropout after he was branded a terrorist by the police. "First they tried to link me with the Mecca Masjid blast and then they say I planted one of the bombs during the twin blasts," he said.

Billah remained in jail for 90 days before he was granted bail by the AP High Court. The only evidence that was cited against him was that he was in possession of inflammatory CDs. "It has become difficult to even walk on the streets and we are constantly under police survelliance. Most of the time we just sit at home," he added.

"Moreover the police torture is unbearable. There comes a time when we admit something that we have not done in order to avoid the torture. When I was arrested, they could not use third degree treatment as my arrest was shown. Instead they did not let me sleep. A constable sat beside me all night and each time I dozed off, he woke me up by throwing water on my face."

It is very evident that the mindset among the Muslims in Hyderabad is changing. The anger against the police is increasing. Khan says that he has advised all youth to maintain calm and protest through legal means. It may take a while, but our voices will be heard, he says.

Maulana Islahi, a scholar in the Old Hyderabad area, says that meaningless arrests only make matters worse.

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