Timely intervention of MHA resulted in U turn by Delhi police in Maulana Noorul Huda case. Maulana Huda was arrested for allegedly making suspicious remarks onboard a London-bound Emirates flight on May 12. After intervention of Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Huda was set free after 48 hrs ordeal on bail in the morning of May 15 and the same evening police had filed a report in the designated court in Dwarka seeking closure of the case.
Maulana Huda, Head of Darul Uloom Farooqia Deoband, District Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh, was offloaded from an Emirates Airways flight from Delhi to London via Dubai after an NRI woman co-passenger complained about his “suspicious” talk over phone.
As the plane was taxing toward runway, the woman rushed to the cabin crew to tell that she has heard the passenger sitting next to him, saying over phone that “jahaz udne wala hai, ham udne wale hain” (the plane is about to take off, we are about to fly). However the apprehensive lady interpreted the word ‘udna’ as blow-up due to his poor knowledge of spoken Hindustani and because Huda’s appearance as devout Muslim invoked ‘Islamophobia’ in herself. Fifty years old Maulana sports a beard and was attired in moderate kurta, payjama and Lucknow style cap. But the nobleman looked her to be a ‘dangerous’ person.
Though nothing discriminating was found from the baggage of the Maulana, yet the IGI Airport Security personnel were pleased to allow themselves to fall in the line of US based lady in her twenties, and did not take “suspected” person’s explanation enough to satisfy themselves that he was merely telling his son on phone that the ‘plane is just to take off’ (“jahaz udne wala hai”). The police replicated the mindset of the lady passenger and detained the Maulana for ‘questioning’. His son was called to the airport, mobile phones of both were confiscated and call details checked. Deep search of Maulana’s person and his baggage also did not yield anything discriminating; yet the ‘alert’ police decided to let the lady go and send Maulana to jail. The police with the bold claim of “In Your Service” found it convenient to slap a case against the reputed religious leader. Thanks to MHA intervention, Delhi Police did not press the offence registered under non-bailable Section 505 (creating rumour resulting in public nuisance) of IPC, and Section 341 (wrongfully restraining a person) which is a bailable provision when the “accused” was produced in the court. And the court let him go but after furnishing a bail.
It is reported that the alert Home Minister P. Chidambaram sensed the absurdity of the matter and got time to instruct Home Secretary G.K. Pillai who told Delhi Police Commissioner Y.S. Dadwal that “a wrong case” has been slapped on Huda and since there was no reason to keep him behind bars, he should be set free. Sources close to Huda said they were yet to take a call on suing the Delhi police for arresting the Maulana on “false charges”.
In a similar case on May 5 a burqa-clad woman and her husband had to face unwarranted ordeal at Kolkata airport. The Russian duo Asal Becov Artur, 58, and his wife Alvi Evoasle Onara, 51, were going to Dhaka, when a steward felt suspicious because the woman was extraordinary tall and well-built. The ‘conservative’ woman was not showing her face even during eating and drinking. That was enough to alert plane staff.
Spicejet flight was made to have a ‘priority landing’ in Kolkata. After landing, the Delhi-Kolkata-Dhaka Spicejet flight 208 with 123 passengers was taken to an isolation bay at the airport for a search and was surrounded by CISF personnel, the bomb squad, fire brigade and the police. The burqa-clad passenger and her husband were offloaded and the aircraft thoroughly searched. The couple was lucky to be Russian nationals and were let off next day after Russian mission in Kolkata stepped in.
In yet another incident on February 7 in Mumbai, a Muslim couple was offloaded from an Eremite plane, just before it was to take off for Dubai. The passenger Shahbaz Khan and his wife fell in trouble when a person named Suresh Chavan called the cargo supervisor of the flight claiming that he overheard someone saying Shahbaz was an “al-Qaida terrorist”. The plane was pushed back to the runway. Shahbaz and his wife were immediately detained, everybody was deplaned and whole baggage of all passengers and the aircraft were checked minutely again. Nothing objectionable was found in the plane or with the passengers including the couple. Yet, the couple was not let off. They were detained for further questioning. The plane later left with all passengers except the couple. This time the passenger was pushed in the agony not due to his appearance but because his Muslim name. His wife was also pushed to share her husband’s fate.
These are not incidents in isolation but expression of a peculiar mindset, created and perpetuated by persistent efforts of Brahmanist elements in press, police and administration to demonise Muslims in India, by depicting them as terrorists. International conspiracies against Muslims led by Zionist forces have greatly mitigated the situation for hate mongers. It needs a remedy in the form of concerted efforts to expose wrongdoers, to reach out to the masses and try to create general awareness about their motives and designs.
The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) condemned the detention and arrest of Maulana Noorul Huda. Describing the arrest as illegal and as “a reminder of the deep rooted prejudice that exists in sections of the law enforcement agencies against Muslims”, the Leftist party has demanded that “Noorul Huda must be fully compensated for the agony, insult and losses he suffered as a result of wrongful detainment.”
The party said in a statement: “It was bad enough that he was off-loaded from the Emirates flight on the basis of a trivial complaint but for the Delhi Police to register a case against him and to have sent him to Tihar Jail is condemnable and unacceptable.”
It also asked the police to end community profiling. “Clearly while caution and alertness is required from all official agencies against any terrorist threats, the kind of community profiling which is reflected in this case puts a question mark on the credibility of law enforcement agencies,” the CPI-M said. “It is necessary for the Home Ministry to send a stern message against such community profiling,” the statement added.
Certain Muslim organisations have also deplored the police act. Maulana Mahmood Madani, Gen Secretary of Jamiat-Ulema-e-Hind, immediately registered his protest with the Home Minister and pleaded him to get Huda out of police hook.
“People wearing a kurta-pyjama with a long beard and a cap are misinterpreted as terrorists. Before arresting him (Huda), the authorities should have checked the plane if they thought there was a possibility of a bomb blast,” said Abdul Hamid Noamani, spokesman of the Jamiat-Ulema-e-Hind.
Mr. Nusrat Ali, General Secretary of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind has also condemned the arrest of Maulana Huda. Terming the uncanny incident as highly deplorable, he said that such actions of security forces create sense of insecurity in the Minority community and must be stopped. Expressing his sympathies and solidarity with the Maulana and his family, Mr. Nusrat Ali welcomed the news that the police ultimately moved the court for the closure of the case.
Terming it as “injustice” on the part of the administration, Syed Ahmed Bukhari, the Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid Delhi, said: “People have to pay for being a Muslim. This kind of misinterpretation and the action shows intolerance towards our community.”
Forum for Civil Rights saw a “Chidambaram Effect” in the release of Maulana Noorul Huda within 48 hrs of his arrest and withdrawal of the case slapped on him the same day. The Forum has appealed to the Union Home Minister to order review of hundreds of innocent Muslim young detainees arrested merely on the basis of suspicion, without any credible evidence against them and languishing in various jails for months and years.
[The writer is Gen. Sec. Forum for Civil Rights]