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Home > India > News > Report

'Is it a crime to go to the mosque?'

A Correspondent in Mumbai | May 09, 2008 18:58 IST

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It has been more than 100 days, but the wait seems to get longer for the Khans, who are still hoping and praying that Roshan Jamal Khan will walk out a free man from jail in Spain.

Roshan's wife, Farida, takes the rosary in her hands and prays whereas son Talha is desperately scouring the internet to somehow get some kind of news on his father, who has been in jail since January 19, 2008, after being picked up by the Spanish authorities on terrorism charges.

"I have given more than two dozen interviews to mediapersons but nothing is working. I still have no idea why the Spanish authorities have arrested my husband and levelled the charges against him," says Farida.

Her house in Kadam Nagar in Mumbai's Jogeshwari, in the city's western suburbs, has become well known. Ask any passerby and you will be dropped home.

The only relief the family has got so far is a phone call from Roshan, as the Spanish police have allowed him to make phone calls to his family once a week, but for no longer than four minutes.

"He is completely clueless about the case. He has no idea why he was arrested and he's wondering why the Government of India has not intervened so far to release him," she says.

Farida, on her part, has written letters and sent files to Prime Minster Manmohan Singh [Images], External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Congress president Sonia Gandhi [Images] seeking an appointment with them, but there has been no word from them so far.

"The government, it seems, is not bothered about its citizens. They just don't care. I only hope they give us some time to represent our case, but they are not even interested in meeting us and solving our problem," says Mehboob Khan, Roshan's brother.

The only response the family got was from the office of Vyalar Ravi, minister for overseas affairs. "The letter came from his office stating that they have told the Indian embassy to take action in Roshan Jamal's matter and there is no progress after that," added Mehboob Khan.

Roshan Jamal Khan lived in the Mumbai suburb before he went to Spain to search for some business opportunities in trade of olive oil when tragedy struck him. In Spain he was staying with his brother-in-law Amanullah Khan who has been living in that country for the last seven years.

On the morning of January 19, Roshan had gone to attend the morning prayers at a local mosque in Leon province near Barcelona. No sooner had he finished his prayers than the Spanish police raided the mosque and arrested everyone inside, which included 10 Pakistani nationals.

"My husband's only fault was to attend the mosque for morning prayers. Is it a crime to go to mosque? He didn't even know the people who were praying with him in the mosque. He has no idea why he has been detained for so long," says Farida.

Her 16-year-old son Talha joins in and points to his computer, saying the biggest hurdle is the Spanish language. "Whenever there is some news of my father, it is in Spanish and we don't understand that. Now I am thinking of starting a campaign on the internet to free my father," says Talha.