India: Family of Alleged JeM Member Accuses Police of Doctoring Evidence

Akash Vashishtha
2016.05.09
New Delhi
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160509-IN-family-speaks-620.jpg Sajid Ahmad’s mother, Amna Begum (left) and his sister, Mahazabi, discuss the night of his arrest while sitting outside their home in east Delhi, May 8, 2016.
Akash Vashishtha/BenarNews

Updated at 6:40 p.m. ET on 2016-05-09

Delhi police are challenging claims by the family of a suspected Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) militant in custody that officers fabricated evidence against him.

Sajid Ahmad, 19, who was arrested in east Delhi on May 4, was the kingpin of a JeM cell whose members include Sameer Ahmad, also from Delhi and Shakir Ansari from Deoband in Uttar Pradesh, that was planning attacks in the Indian capital, police said last week. Sajid and the two others have their day in court on Saturday.

Police also detained 10 other men – four of whom were released on Saturday and the remaining six on Sunday for “lack of direct involvement.”

Police said they recovered improvised explosive devices (IEDs), timers and gun powder from Ahmad’s house. His family said more than a dozen officers, armed with AK-47 rifles, swooped into the two-story house around 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

His family said Ahmad was taken into custody from a mosque near their house where he had gone to pray. They said police broke open the doors of a ground-floor room where he operated his small workshop where he stitched women’s undergarments.

“They terrorized us and confined us to the first-floor room. They even misbehaved with the women of the house. They crushed Quran Sharif and other literature books under their feet,” Ahmad’s 17-year-old sister, Mahazabi, told BenarNews.

“Suddenly, they brought something from the workshop, saying that it is a bomb. We were surprised,” she added.

Delhi police, meanwhile, said they were questioning Ahmad and others in custody and were retrieving encrypted messages that the suspects had sent via WhatsApp to see whether they could gather information about alleged links to Islamic militant groups.

“It is clear that Sajid was inclined toward Jaish-e-Muhammad and was in direct [contact] with Pakistan. There is lot of evidence to show this,” Special Commissioner of Police Arvind Deep told BenarNews.

Police sources claim Ahmad and Ansari were in touch with Maulana Talah Saif, believed to be the brother of Maulana Masood Azhar, founder of the Pakistan- based JeM.

Azhar is wanted by India in connection with an attack on parliament in 2001 and an attack on the Pathankot Indian air base base in January 2016.

Family’s account of arrest

Relatives of Ahmad on Monday questioned the police account of his arrest.

“They said he injured his left hand while [a] bomb exploded. Had the bomb exploded in his room, at least the plaster of the walls would have come down. Some clothes also would have burned. There would have been an explosion, and we would have been injured. But everything is intact,” his sister-in-law, Reema, told BenarNews.

“His hand was injured during a scuffle between me and him. I was there in the kitchen two days back when he scolded me for my dupatta slipping off my head. When he tried to push me, I poured some hot milk over him, injuring his left hand,” said his younger sister, Mahazabi.

Reema accused the authorities of “harassing” them because they were members of India’s Muslim minority.

“Why are Hindus not picked up? They are picking up children like this from the mosque,” Reema said.

“The police are not allowing us to meet him. Sajid is too traumatized,” she added.

Minority rights activist Shakir Ali echoed Reema’s complaint.

“In the name of national security, the poor and uneducated Muslims are victimized while the actual terrorists who operate from outside are not dared to be touched. Indian Muslims are true Muslims and owe allegiance to India.

“The Modi government targets such Muslims to appease a class of majority who had voted for them, just to show that they are doing very good for the national security,” he told BenarNews.

Ahmad, who left school after grade 10 over financial issues at home, had no friends and was always at work or in the mosque, according to family. His only concern, according to close relatives, was to see his sister marry and tend after his mother, a heart patient.

“I never imagined this would happen to my son,” Ahmad’s mother, Amna Begum, told BenarNews.

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