Every charge against him is baseless, says lawyer of the cab driver arrested along with journalist Siddique Kappan
Ahmed Kasim | Clarion India
NEW DELHI – The only crime of my husband is his being a Muslim, otherwise there is no explanation for him incarcerated for last one year, that too under the stringent UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act). This is the feeling of Bushra, the wife of Mohammad Alam, a cab driver, who was arrested by Uttar Pradesh Police near Mathura on October 5, 2020 along with journalist Siddiq Kappan. They were detained while on way to meet the family of a Dalit women who was allegedly gangraped and murdered in September 2020.
The police accused them of hatching a conspiracy to breach peace amidst massive protests against the government over forced cremation of the rape victim.
But activists and families of the accused say that they have been wrongly implicated. Kappan and Alam’s families say they were just doing their job.
“He was on his job. As usual booking had come to him, just like any other day. Some people wanted to go to Hathras, he was told” Bushra said while talking to Clarion India on Alam’s connection with Siddiq Kappan and others
A year of incarceration and diminishing hope of justice have left Bushra heartbroken.
She was married to Alam for a year and half at the time her husband was arrested. “It was the beginning of our life. I had never thought this would happen to us,” Bushra said. Whenever I get to talk to him (Alam), he asks as to why has he been imprisoned? I have no answer,” she says.
Bushra said that Alam did not know Kappan and other passengers. He had met them for the first time on that fateful day. “For him, they were his customers. My husband is a driver. He went to do his job, why was UAPA imposed on him?”
Kappan, Masood, Atiq-ur-Rehman, and Alam, the driver, were arrested after police stopped their car on the highway near Mathura. The police initially booked them for attempting to enter Hathras amidst tense situations claiming there were apprehensions of breach of peace. The police used Sections 151 (Arrest to prevent the commission of cognizable offences), 107 (Security for keeping peace in other cases), and 116 (Inquiry as to truth of information) of the CrPC and sent to jail. The police argued that the initial investigation found they were hatching a criminal conspiracy to disturb peace and law and order in Hathras.
Later, the police invoked UAPA and charges of sedition, thus diminishing any chance of bail.
For six months police did not provide any evidence in the case filed on October 5. They did not even file a chargesheet within the stipulated time prompting the lawyers of the accused to move court. Sub-Divisional Magistrate Ram Datt Ram dropped the proceedings in the initial case. However, they continued to remain behind bars under the UAPA.
Alam’s advocate Madhuvan Dutt rejected the charges against him made in the chargesheet filed on April 3, 2021. “Every charge against Alam is baseless, there is no evidence against him, but because of UAPA and sedition charges the courts have not granted him bail,” Dutt said while speaking with Clarion India over the phone. “I hope when the High Court hears his case, he will be set free.”
But Bushra gets emotional. “Does anyone have an answer as to why my husband is in jail even after one year of incarceration. No, because he has not committed any crime,” lamented Bushra. “The only answer is because he is a Muslim. If it is a crime to be a Muslim in this country, impose UAPA on those who are Muslims, then fill all the Muslims in jail, impose UAPA on everyone”
Bushra said she and her family have been in “trauma” ever since Alam’s arrest.
“I have started living at my mother’s house. Occasionally, I do go to my in-law’s house. The whole family is going through a trauma,” she said.
She has to also manage the rent of the house she lived in with Alam. “It is a very difficult time for me,” she said.
Bushar’s confidence in the court is also waning. She says, “every time there is a hearing I hope for good news but the judges keep postponing the hearing and we return empty handed and dejected.”
“No government is listening, all have become blind and deaf,” she added.