Rejaz M Sheeba Sydeek
33-year-old Zakariya was abducted and arrested at the age of 19 from Kerala by the Karnataka state police under UA(P)A on February 5, 2009 in connection with the 2008 Bangalore serial blasts. His father passed away when he was just 10 years old and was living with his mother, Beyummah in Parappanangadi, Malappuram, Kerala. After discontinuing B.Com from a cooperative college, Zakariya joined a mobile repairing course and worked in a mobile shop in Tirur. One day the police came to Zakariya’s house and inquired about him. The police assured his mother not to worry and told her that the inquiry was part of the verification procedure for his passport. Police also went to inquire at his mobile shop and on the third day of the inquiry, he was abducted from the shop by Karnataka Police without even informing his family and the local police. He was lodged in Parappana Agrahara Central Prison, Karnataka.
Zakariya was accused of making timers and microchips for the blast. The other accusation is that Zakariya participated in thareeqath classes that took place in Parappanangadi and other places for conspiring in the attack. The news broke out like wildfire in Kerala and this led to the alienation of his family by relatives, friends and neighbours. Marriage proposals of Zakariya’s three elder siblings were affected and his mother had to shift to the house of her elder son because of isolation from the neighbourhood.
Karnataka Police told the court that they have Haridasan and Nizamudeen as witnesses against Zakariya. Haridasan told the media that he doesn’t even know who Zakariya is. He was asked to sign in a statement written in Kannada, a language that he doesn’t know and he signed after being pressured by police. It was also Haridasan who donated first to the fundraising by the action committee formed to release Zakariya. The second witness, Nizamudeen, said he never spoke against Zakariya. He says he was manipulated by the Karnataka police who came along with a statement prepared in kannada. The statement says, ” I am using Sharafudheen’s mobile phone”. The local SI also attested to the words of Karnataka police and stood with them in manipulation. It was only after the submission of the charge sheet that Nizamudeen came to know that he was used to implicate Zakariya. Even after the witnesses denounced the statements, the judiciary did not pay any heed to them.
It was only after 6 years that all those dear and near ones of Zakariya who were scared of the tag, “Friend of terrorist”, were convinced of Zakariya’s innocence and started supporting the family. In 15 years of life in prison as an under-trial prisoner, Zakariya only got 3 paroles to attend his brother’s marriage, the same brother’s funeral and visit his ailing mother.
Expenses for parole are to be taken by the family. Zakariya’s sister has told the media that it will cost 1 – 2 lakh rupees for one parole visit. Majority of UA(P)A victims hail from lower-class families and marginalised communities of India. Even for affording a lawyer in the supreme court, they have to shell out lakhs. How can poor people avail justice?Even the right to life in this condition is expensive.
Not only religion is a factor in choosing, but also class. Police will likely pick Muslims from the lower class so that there will be less outrage against the arrests. Another factor is that the collective conscience of society including Muslims will blindly believe the police version when a Muslim is arrested in a terror case. Police will offer money and a job if the arrested individual agree to work for them as informers in exchange for release. But the reality is that the tag of terrorist won’t go even if acquitted. Afzal Guru was detained illegally, tortured, extorted and then forced to become an informer. He helped the Special Taskforce and later he was implicated by the police itself in the Parliament attack and was hanged. A Malayali Intelligence Bureau officer told Zakariya, “We know that you are innocent, we will let you go, But you have to give us information on Muslim organisations in Parappanangadi and surrounding areas. We will even set up a shop for you”. Zakariya didn’t accept the offers in exchange for his release from the police and didn’t become a traitor against justice and truth.
It would be easy for political activists to survive in jail who expect imprisonment as part of their political activism when compared with a person like Zakariya who is not at all connected with political activism. But I am always amazed by the willpower of Zakariya and wonder about the driving force behind his loyalty towards truth. 19-year-old Zakariya could have sacrificed his conscience by becoming an approver and betrayed innocents by giving false statements scripted by the police.
The state-programmed attacks are orchestrated by bureaucrats and security establishments to meet the political needs of the state. Intelligence Bureau (IB) has an infamous history in India for creating “so-called terrorists”. After their use, IB will implicate their Muslim informers as terrorists. Irshad who worked for IB for years was framed as a terrorist involved in a bomb blast after Irshad decided to stop his service. Even doctors like Dr. Malini, who conducts narco analysis have fabricated evidence against the innocents. The more we dig, the more we will get shocked about the deep state in India.
Sidheeq Kappan’s mother died while he was in jail, Najeeb’s mother still waits for him, thousands of Kashmiri mothers wait for their sons, and mothers of political prisoners are expecting their children to return home just like Eachara Warrier waited. Zakariya’s mother, Beyummah also deserves justice!
Release all Political Prisoners!
_ Rejaz M Sheeba Sydeek
05 FEB 2023