Two years after being acquitted for their alleged involvement in the Mecca Masjid blast, several youngsters are struggling to regain some semblance of normalcy in their lives.
“I am a well educated man, but nobody will give me a job, thanks to the ‘terrorist’ tag that I now have to live with. Ever since I was arrested in connection with the Mecca Masjid blast my life has been ruined. Although the court has acquitted me, the stigma remains,” says Syed Imran Khan, a BTech graduate. Imran, along with 30 others had been arrested on charges of terrorist activity after the Mecca Masjid blast in 2007. However, all of them were later acquitted by the court and the government promised them an ex-gratia and assured jobs. However, to date only six of those falsely implicated in the blast have received the ex-gratia amount.
“I have not received any ex-gratia, nor do I have a job, despite the government announcement. My life is completely ruined now. Nobody is willing to give me a job thanks to the terrorist tag. It’s even harder to find a suitable match for marriage. Our relatives and friends choose to ignore us and my parents prefer staying home due to the guilt. However, the worst outcome of this whole fiasco has been that my sister got divorced due to my arrest,” says Imran.
Others like him face a similar fate. They have been socially ostracised, don’t have jobs, cannot get married and are looked down upon by their own relatives and friends. Some of those who had been arrested and then acquitted include; Moutasim Billah son of Moulana Abdul Aleem Islahi, Shoaib Jagirdar from Jalna, Mohd Abdul Majeed brother of Shahid Bilal, Shaik Abdul Kaleem, Mohd Rayees, Maqsood, Shakeel, Abdul Raoof Imran and Gulam Aslam Siddique.
“The government is never going to learn from its mistakes and we have to take action against them. There should be strict laws about arresting somebody like this. Despite being acquitted in 2010, we still can’t shake off the stigma,” Moutaism Billah who recently wrote his MTech exam. He further added, “I don’t want the ex-gratia amount. The money doesn’t matter to me, which is why I didn’t even apply for compensation. What I want is justice. Thanks to this terrorist tag it’s difficult for me to resume a normal life.”
Incidentally, it was Shaik Abdul Kaleem who was instrumental in bringing reprieve to those who were falsely implicated in the blast case. While in prison, he was sharing his tale of misery with another prisoner, Swamy Asimanand. During the course of their talk, Kaleem revealed how they were victims of police atrocities. It was at this point that Asimanand confessed that there were no Muslims behind the Mecca Masjid blast, but a Hindu group. It was following his confession that the trial turned in the favour of those who had been falsely arrested. Despite, his role in bringing forth the truth, Kaleem too has not yet received the ex-gratia amount or a job. “We are facing several financial problems. But we have not received any help from the government. We are waiting for justice,” he said.
Similarly, Mohd Rayees lost his job with a City-based jewellery shop following his arrest. After he was released he had to take loans from different people to start his own shop. However, the business failed and now he is in a dilemma. “Every time there is some terrorist activity, the police come and take us for questioning,” Rayees said.
In a similar case Maqsood, Shakeel, Gulam Aslam Siddique and others are also waiting for a compensation from the government for some rehabilitation. Most of them belong to poor and middle class families and don’t have reliable sources of income. Thanks to the arrests, they lost what jobs they had and stand slim chances of getting new ones.
About the Author (Author Profile)
I have been working as a crime reporter in Hyderabad for the past 17 years. I was encouraged to be a journalist by my late father. As a journalist I try to do something unique for society, especially the poor who suffer the most.