On September 14, 2012, when the Bombay High Court granted bail to 30-year-old computer engineer Mohammed Atik Iqbal, he was confident he would piece his life together after having spent four years in jail for alleged involvement with the Indian Mujahideen (IM).
One year later, he is still struggling to find a job. Infosys, where Atik worked prior to his arrest in September, 2008, terminated his employment, allegedly without any prior notice, claiming he had gone “missing” from work for three weeks.
Atik, who is currently pursuing law in Yavatmal, has challenged the termination before the labour court in Pune.
“There was no time to inform anyone. I was picked up by police. When my father got a call from my colleague, he informed the office what had happened,” Atik said. “They should have put me under suspension and sought replies from me or my family. The company was aware of what had happened, but they still sacked me,” he added.
When contacted, Infosys said, “We will not be able to comment as the matter is sub judice.”
In the absence of job opportunities, Atik has been forced to take up the role of a supervisor at a local school. “Upon my release, Infosys officials asked me complete all formalities and leave. I am ready to work, but they do not want me,” he said.
According to the prosecution, Atik, accused of being a part of IM’s media hub allegedly involved in the 2008 terror attacks in Gujarat, had attended a dinner party hosted by IM leaders Iqbal and Riyaz Bhatkal. While granting bail, the HC observed, “Mere presence during a discussion or attending a dinner party cannot amount to membership of an organised crime syndicate or a terrorist organisation.”
Atik says the terror tag continues to haunt him. “This place (Yavatmal) is a small town. Opportunities are limited. I can look for a job in cities outside, but I’m worried to leave my family alone,” Atik, who lives with his wife and a five-year-old son, said. “Plus, for a job outside, I will have to tell them the truth. Who will want to give