Several Muslims who had been arrested in the past on false charges, and later acquitted by courts, continue to face problems in renewing or getting new passports
Ashok Kumar | Clarion India
MUMBAI – For Wahid Shaikh, September 22, 2020 is a day he will remember for long. The activist-lawyer, who has been battling the police for nearly 15 years, finally managed to get a new passport in his name on Tuesday.
“My passport was seized by the anti-terrorism squad (ATS) of Mumbai police in 2006 and was never returned to me,” he told Clarion India. “I was acquitted of charges of being involved in the 2006 suburban train blasts in Mumbai, but never got my passport back.” In 2015, after being released, he wanted to go to Saudi Arabia on Haj, but the police objected and said he could not have his passport. They said he would indulge in anti-national activities abroad and interact with terrorists there.
“I went to the police several times, but they refused to relent,” Shaikh told this correspondent. “Finally, I realised that they had lost my passport.” He applied again and informed the passport office about how the earlier passport had been lost by the police. Fortunately for him, a new passport was issued and delivered to him on Tuesday.
Shaikh has never travelled abroad but is now keen to go to Saudi Arabia for Umrah. He plans to get passports for his wife, four children and mother and all of them would hopefully head to Saudi Arabia. “Later on, I also plan to go to other countries including the UK on lecture tours.
According to him, there are several others in Mumbai, of people being arrested on false charges, their passports seized and not being returned after their acquittal.
Muzammil Bagdadi, 47, a fisherman living in Mumbra on the outskirts of Mumbai, is one such individual. “I was arrested in 2000 and accused of being a Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) activist,” he told this correspondent on Tuesday. “I was cleared of the charges many years later, but the police are still not giving the clearance for issuing a passport. They tell me to go to court.” Bagdadi is hopeful of getting justice from a court and will continue petitioning.
Elliyas Momin, a Pune resident, is an IT professional, an expert in cloud computing, networking and other specialities. “Several fake cases were filed against me by the police,” he told Clarion India. “I was kept in preventive detention for more than a year in 2001-02. I had absolutely no relationship with SIMI, but was still detained. Later, I was acquitted of all charges and released.”
Momin has been a frequent traveller to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other countries, going on IT assignments and projects. But more than a year ago, his passport expired and his application for a new one was rejected on the basis of a negative police report. He appealed to the passport officials in Delhi, who were understanding, but couldn’t help in the case.
Finally, Momin filed a case in the Bombay high court earlier this year and the matter is pending. He is hopeful of getting his passport renewed and resuming his overseas operations. But sadly, there are several such individuals, detained or arrested on false charges, and then released. However, they confront problems relating to police clearances for their passports.