THE LOST YEARS
Mumbai: Mohammed Irfan spent 12 years fighting the charge that he was a member of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). Acquitted on Tuesday, the 48-year-old production engineer says he can never forget the humiliation he faced for over a decade.
“Everytime there was a blast anywhere in the country, the police arrived at my house at midnight,” he said. “They would take me to the police station, interrogate me in a humiliating manner, and release me with the warning that I should not leave the city without their okay. It happened for 12 years.” He said he and his brother Imran were picked up by the Vikhroli police from home atnight on September 27, 2001, and taken to the police station. The siblings and six others were arrested under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. Now, all eight are acquitted.
“We were all booked for association with the then recently banned SIMI,” he said. “Our fault? We attended some SIMI events, like thousands of others in the city. We were also detained for 40 days after the 2002 Ghatkopar blast.”
The police had claimed Irfan and the others, all in their mid-30s then, were part of SIMI and were planning to protest against the ban imposed on the outfit soon after 9/11. “The police visits, abusive language, humiliation and police demands for chai-paani are hard to forget,” Irfan said. “My family was terrorized by the police visits. Relatives stopped coming over, my sister’s nikah was done behind closed doors at home, and when Imran’s oneyear-old son died, he was not allowed to attend the funeral.”
One of the acquitted men, Mohammed Wahid, is still behind bars in the 7/11 train blasts. Another man acquitted in the SIMI case is a witness against Wahid in the blasts case.
Irfan, who has a cosmetics store and glass manufacturing unit in the city, said all he wants now is a normal life. “Our advocate, Shareef Shaikh, encouraged us and we had faith in the judiciary,” he said.
The Times of India, July 11, 2013