Indian Muslims fear of being falsely accused in terrorist activities

Muslims in India fear to raise their voice as they do not want to be falsely accused in terrorist activities. Even after facing persecution and discrimination on the basis of religion, they are silent.

In December 2001, 127 Muslims were arrested under various sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), a stringent anti-terror law, for attending a three-day seminar on Muslim education, organised by the All India Minority Education Board.

The police also charged them with being members of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and for organising the meeting to “promote and expand” SIMI’s activities.

Indian authorities accused SIMI of conducting several bombings and having links with armed groups based in Pakistan. However, the group had refuted the allegations saying it merely propagates an “Islamic way of life” for the Muslims in India.

After more than 19 years, a Surat court on March 6, 2021 acquitted all of the 127 accused in the case. Five of them even died during the long trial process.

In it’s order, the court stated that the prosecution had failed to produce “cogent, reliable and satisfactory” evidence to establish the accused belonged to SIMI or had gathered to promote the group’s activities. Thus, they cannot be held guilty under UAPA, the court ruled out.

Even though the acquittal has brought a sense of relief for the accused, it doesn’t reverse the 20 years of damage they’ve had to endure.

“This case ruined my life. For a decade and a half, I wasn’t paid the full salary,” 53 year old healthcare worker Asif Iqbal acquitted in the SIMI case said, adding that he “feels guilty” that his 75-year-old father still drives an auto-rickshaw to help his family meet the ends.

These innocent men wasted an ordeal of nearly 20 years in which they spent time in jail, got bail, moved homes, lost jobs and now struggle to make ends meet. Muslims have made the least noise against the injustices meted out to them.

After the Haridwar and Chhattisgarh’s Dharam Sansads’, where Hinduvta leaders called for the genocide of minorities, Muslims have started feel their voices wouldn’t be heard as no action has been taken in regards to the hate speech. Gradually, the community has started to feel protesting would have no impact.

The reason behind their silence is the fear of further reprisal, which is why nobody wants to stand up and speak out and this has been going on from a long time. They fear that raising their voice or protesting would become an existential threat to their lives – threat of risking 20 years of their to incarceration or worse if they even tried.

For instance Dr. Kafeel Khan, who was arrested in fake charges and later released, including many others Muslim journalists, activists and scholars who are still in jail for raising their voice or speaking against the persecution.

“Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), found that a sense of being discriminated against by police in India is the strongest among Muslims.”

More than 47 per cent of Indian Muslims fear of being falsely accused of terrorist activities, according to the study.

Indian Muslims, like other communities, should be given that space where they can come out and raise their voice against the oppression that is happening against them. They should be give a sphere where they can acquire a position of leadership.

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