Terror tag in way of Muslim youths engineering dream

Written by Muzamil Jaleel | New Delhi | Updated: May 12 2014, 10:58am hrs
Every time there is a knock at the door, fear strikes his heart. The 22-year-old spends sleepless nights. Mehrajuddin isnt studying for his final year Mechanical Engineering examination either as he cannot appear for it because the college has suspended based on reports branding him a terrorist. If the college calls him back, he will still be haunted.

Last month, Rajasthan police picked him up along with a roommate in Jaipur, questioned him to unearth alleged Indian Mujahideen links and drove him to Delhi Police Special Cell for further interrogation. Nothing was found against him.

I knew I am innocent and thought they knew that too thats why they released me. I didnt know this clean chit didnt matter, Mehrajuddin says. I wasnt even arrested.

He says his family in Gangapur is facing social boycott after the media called him aatankwadi (terrorist). My father Niyazuddin is a driver in the railways. His colleagues stopped speaking to him.

Mehrajuddin, frail, short and sporting a sparse beard, is the eldest sibling of three. He was good in studies, especially mathematics. He got into Global Institute of Technology (GIT), Jaipur. After four years of hard work, I was getting ready for the final exam. I was planning to apply for a job, he says.

On March 23, everything changed. It was around 4.30 or 5 in the morning. I had rented a flat with my coursemates Waqar (Azhar) and Ammar (Yasir). Ammar had gone to Delhi on his way for Umrah pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. Waqar was also asleep. I was woken up and saw more than a dozen men in the flat. They were policemen in civvies who had sneaked inside. They drove us to a police station where they separated us. They (police) started to ask questions. They asked me about my family and religious beliefs. Then they started asking about samaan and I kept saying which samaan. There was nothing in our flat that was dangerous. A policeman slapped me and kicked me several times. They insisted I knew about samaan and they meant weapons.

After hours of questioning, he was put in a vehicle where a few men in uniform were carrying guns. Waqar had been taken to some other room and I had no idea what was going on. The policemen told me they are taking me to Delhi. I was in panic. I started pleading with them to let me make a phone call to my father. They didnt agree.

In Delhi, he was taken to a police station. I was scared to know it is Special Cell. I kept pleading to let me make a phone call home. Soon, a few officers started asking the same questions, he says. They asked me about what I think about Jihad and my views on Tableegi Jamat and Ahle Hadees. They were very harsh but didnt hit me.

I had been with police for 18-19 hours and was exhausted and scared. I had no idea what would come next, he says. A few police officers told me they are convinced I am innocent. They told me they are letting me go. I saw Ammar and another guy outside who were released after daylong questioning.

The trauma did not end there. On March 24, his college suspended him. On April 3, Mehrajuddin wrote to the Director saying he never indulged in any illegal activity and sought his reinstatement so that appear for the final examination. The college didnt respond.

In response to an RTI plea, Delhi Police said Mehrajuddin was not arrested by Special Cell.

On April 23, Mehrajuddins father wrote to the college, which replied on April 29, saying the matter has been raised with Rajasthan Technical University Kota and we will act once their direction comes. The has been no further communication

There is no case against Mehrajuddin in Rajasthan and yet he is scared because ATS of Rajasthan police arrested his flatmate Ammar from Shergathi (Bihar), after his return from pilgrimage.