'The Telangana police are working on the same agenda against Muslims as the Modi government at the Centre.'
Five alleged operatives of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India were shot dead by the Telangana police while they were being taken from jail to court on April 7.
The men were said to have attacked the policemen escorting them in the van taking them to court. The encounter occurred between Warangal and Hyderabad.
While the police claim they were forced to fire in self-defence, human rights activists have cried foul.
Lateef Mohammad Khan, below, left, general secretary of the Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee based in Hyderabad, discussed the 'encounter' with A Ganesh Nadar/Rediff.com
The 'encounter' happened in broad daylight on a highway. Don't you think the police would have chosen an isolated spot if it was a staged 'encounter'?
It was in broad daylight, but it was in an isolated spot. There are no buildings in that area. It is the national highway between Warangal and Hyderabad, but there were only moving vehicles.
Why did you say the Telangana police have a fascist mindset?
We are saying that because they are working on the same agenda against Muslims as the Narendra Modi government at the Centre.
Why do you say that Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao is playing into the hands of the police?
The chief minister was very close to us during the Telangana movement. We fought with KCR for the movement (for Telangana state). He was arrested many times and accused of igniting regional passions and taking the support of Maoists. He was called a terrorist.
At that time we came forward to defend KCR. The Muslims were with the Telangana movement. He needed our support. Now he is supporting the police.
Have you then lost faith in the chief minister?
We have lost faith in KCR. Five undertrial prisoners were shot dead. KCR knew about the incident.
After the incident we called senior TRS (the ruling Telangana Rashtriya Samiti) leaders who are in charge of minority affairs. They said they are in shock.
They told me they had met KCR and he had told them not to involve themselves in state matters. He told them to ignore the matter. They told us that they cannot give us an answer.
After the incident, KCR did not say anything. Maybe he wants an alliance with the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) for the Hyderabad municipal elections which will be held in December.
Earlier, he had assured us that he would make budgetary provisions for pensions to Muslims, for loans to the minorities, for employment for Muslim youth.
He had told us that Muslims can live a respectable life. But now he has snatched the rights of Muslim youth.
You have mentioned that there are many illegally detained Muslims in Telangana.
There are 135 illegally detained Muslims in Telangana.
What kind of campaign are you planning against such police action?
We have prepared a fact-finding report. We have put it in front of the media. We are going to put pressure on the state government and protect human rights of all people.
We are going to build up a large movement with like-minded organisations. At the time of the formation of Telangana we had a joint action committee. We will call them together again.
Image: Policemen at the site of the alleged encounter. Photograph: PTI