Prisoners’ Rights Activist Abdul Wahid Shaikh Alleges Harassment as NIA Raids His House

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Abdul Wahid Shaikh was acquitted in the 2006 Mumbai train blast case. NIA maintains that its raids were part of a multi-state operation against the banned Popular Front of India

Team Clarion

MUMBAI — Noted prisoners’ rights activist Abdul Wahid Shaikh on Wednesday alleged that officials of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) were harassing him and his family as sleuths from the country’s specialized counter-terrorism law enforcement institution conducted raids at several locations in Mumbai, including Shaikh’s residence in Vikhroli area.

The NIA maintained that the raids were part of a multi-state operation against the banned Popular Front of India (PFI), a report in The Indian Express said.

Shaikh was acquitted in the 7/11 Mumbai serial train blasts case after spending several years in prison. Shaikh had earlier alleged that despite his acquittal, the law enforcement agencies continued to harass him.

There was high drama outside Shaikh’s residence early Wednesday morning after the rights activist did not open the door when NIA officials came there. Shaikh shared a CCTV grab where he asked the people who identified themselves as policemen to come later in the day.

Shaikh then uploaded a video where he said: “Some people claiming to be police personnel came to my residence at 5 am. Neither have they identified themselves nor have they given any notice. They broke one door and broke my camera. I have not opened the door for the past three hours. My wife and kids are unwell, and we are trapped in our house.”

He added, “I have complained to the local police and the Mumbai police commissioner and informed the media as well.” 

Shaikh continued to insist to know the identity of those gathered outside his residence for the next few hours. “They first told me they are from Mumbai police, later claimed to be from the Delhi police. One of them shouted that they are from the UP police. I kept telling them I am willing to cooperate and you can enter my house, provided you keep this transparent. I asked them to serve a proper legal notice and carry out the search,” media reports quoted Shaikh as saying.

Around 10 am, Shaikh’s lawyer Ibrahim Harbat reached the activist’s residence. He was informed that the sleuths were, in fact, from NIA and were there for a raid in connection with a case against PFI. Harbat demanded a search warrant and one of them handed over a piece of paper with handwritten orders. When Harbat refused to accept the notice, they finally sent an NIA official back to their office to get a signed copy of the warrant.

The NIA said they were searching multiple locations in various states, including Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi-NCR, to dismantle a PFI module. Apart from Abdul Wahid Shaikh’s residence, the NIA team searched Bhiwandi, Mumbra and various other districts in Maharashtra.

The NIA said it was probing registered organisations and operatives suspected of re-establishing the PFI under a new name and engaging in suspicious activities and fundraising operations.

Shaikh, a teacher at a Mumbai school, was the only person to be acquitted out of 13 accused in the 11 July 2006 Mumbai train bombings case. Born in Pune, he did his schooling in Mumbai after his family shifted there. His father was a carpenter and even did tailoring. 

After a diploma in teacher’s training, Shaikh got his first job in 1998. He completed his post-graduation and studied law during his nine years in jail. To keep his promise to his co-accused, he travels around the country talking about the truth. A Hindi feature film based on his life is also set to be released soon.

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