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The price of being kin of 'A Terrorist'

Monday, September 28, 2009 07:27:06 PM, Aleem Faizee

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When the nation woke up to June 16 morning in 2004, they were greeted by screaming media headlines and photos of four 'Deadly Terrorists' and 'LeT operatives' lying dead on Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway. One of them was Ishrat Jahan - an undergraduate girl student of Khalsa college Mumbai. They were, according to the intelligence report, 'on a mission to assassinate Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi'.


As always, however, the 'Terrorists failed in their Mission'. But not before they provided enough fodder to a section in the country - that seemingly exists across the political parties and the government machineries in India - to brand the whole Indian Muslim community as 'Bunch Of Terrorists'.


'Muslim Terrorists on a mission to kill Hindu Patriarch Narendra Modi', the incident publicized with this motive, was once again cleverly exploited not only to get political mileage but also to frame every living Muslim on Indian soil. TV channels were repeating the phootage of the incident again and again, as if to further substantiate, 'look not only the Muslim men but how the Muslim girls too are becoming Terrorists and are up in arms against Advani, Modi & Co. - The Hindu Heroes'.


Rest all that followed is a history, revisiting our memories once again after Magistrate S.P. Tamang in his probe termed the whole incident as managed and the entire official theory as nothing but a blatant lie.


Post incident, the most traumatic time was for the family of Ishrat Jahan - the young girl who, as Tamang says in his report, was not a terrorist but cold-bloodedly murdered by Gujarat cops to secure promotions and perks from the state. The trauma, the shock, the neighbors who became strange and the locality that all of a sudden turned hostile, Ishrat's sister Musarrat revealed everything when she appeared for ETV Urdu's talk show Guftgu on September 20 - just a day before Eid al Fitr last Monday.


Musarrat began recalling how the family of five sisters and two brothers with an aged mother was going through a trauma of everyday after her father died of brain tumor in 2002.


When Ishart's sister Musarrat burst into tears

Musarrat remained totally unruffled during the entire conversation. However she lost her nerve when Zafar asked, how her mother reacted to the incident. "We just had no courage to tell mom what had happened to Ishrat aapi", Musarrat could just recall and burst into tears.

"Mom with our eldest sister was working in a packaging company for 12 hours a day. Ishrat aapi was working in a local tuition classes besides giving private tuition to around 30 students at our house", Musarrat said while replying to anchor Zafar Agha's pointed queries.


"At times, we would not have food for an entire day. Yet, we never begged to anyone for help. We were satisfied that everything would be all right once we complete our education. Even the students taking tuition at our house could not know the financial crisis we were going through", she said.


"And then, one fateful evening Ishrat aapi was introduced to Javed Shaikh by the kin of a student", Musarrat said.


Javed Shaikh, Gujarat police later alleged on the basis of some intelligence inputs, was a LeT operative and the man who took Ishrat to the destructive path of terrorism. Javed offered Ishrat to work with him as an accountant for a firm, which according to Musarrat, was still to establish. Together they had also traveled to Lucknow and Pune for few days. 


"It was on such a similar tour Ishrat left the house on June 11, 2004 for Nashik. In Nashik, while waiting for Javed Shaikh at bus station she called us on phone telling she noticed some unknown people mysteriously watching her. Ten minutes later, she rang again and informed she could see Javed coming from the opposite side", Musarrat said.


"After that we never heard anything from Ishrat. On June 16 morning, we suddenly found a large number of reporters and TV crews gathering at our house. They were bombarding questions about Ishtrat. They said uska encounter ho gaya hai", said Musarrat.  "We were not mature enough to comprehend what actually an encounter meant. It was only when they showed us the newspaper photographs - of Ishrat along with three others lying dead on the road under the pool of blood - that we realized what had actually happened to aapi", a composed Musarrat said.


Musarrat remained totally unruffled during the entire conversation. However she lost her nerve when Zafar asked about her mother's reaction to the incident.


"We just could not find the courage to tell mom what had happened to Ishrat aapi", Musarrat could just recall and burst into tears.


The beleaguered family now had the tag of being kin of A TERRORIST. Henceforth, in Musarrat's own words, "Khushi hamare ghar plat kar phir kabhi nahi aayee." Shocked and unable to decide what to do, the family was totally unaware that a new set of trauma was also waiting to unleash upon them.


"Police came, sealed our house, took us to the police station and recorded our statements tell 02:00 late night. Later, they told us to stay the night in the police station or somewhere else, but not in our house", Musarrat went on.


"We found it difficult to stay in the police station any further. Hence we spent the entire night outside while our sealed house gazed at us. That no one came to our rescue was because they were afraid, helping us is akin to inviting the trouble", Musarrat said.


"Next morning police came once again and almost ransacked the entire house," Musarrat recalled. "Ishrat aapi's belongings were their main target. They could not find anything objectionable besides aapi's textbooks and notebooks. They plundered the entire house and took everything of aapi's along", Musarrat could remember.


But police claimed they had found a diary in which Ishrat had noted down the entire plan, Zafar noted. "We were never informed about any such thing being seized from our house", Musarrat replied to this.


Things moved on. The incident after making headlines for few weeks vanished from people's minds. However, for Ishrat's family, everyday had a new form of TERROR reserved for them. Circumstances forced them to abandon the society they were living in. Also to desert the schools they were in and the careers they were aspiring for. And they are left to work for some petty jobs in return for few thousand rupees to earn their livelihood.


After five years, the family received a breather in the form of Metropolitan Magistrate S.P. Tamang's report. It also proved short-lived because the report was stayed over by the Gujarat High Court immediately after its release.


Like Ishrat's, there are dozen other families in India whose near and dear ones are either killed in similar encounters or are lingering in jails since years allegedly because they, like Ishrat, were involved in terrorist activities. Does the Indian government have the courage to investigate all these incidents?












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