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“All Nine Accused Are Labourers, Non-Political People”: APCR Fact-Finding Team On NIA’s Alleged Al-Qaeda Arrests

A fact-finding team of the Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR) visited Murshidabad district of West Bengal last week to probe the truth behind the arrest of nine Muslim villagers by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on September 19 on claims that they are alleged Al-Qaeda operatives, Clarion India reported.

Abdus Samad, leader of the fact-finding team of APCR told Clarion India that all the nine accused are labourers and most of them belong to ‘below poverty line’.

“We have visited their families in neighbouring villages of the district. The men arrested by the NIA are non-political people. They are more concerned about their livelihood than politics at the national or international level,” Samad added.

He said this was a preliminary visit. “It will be followed by another visit on September 27 by a team of 12 human rights organisations that include People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) and Association for Protection of Human Rights (APHR). We want the truth to come out. The NIA is making wild claims which vested interests in Kolkata and elsewhere are repeating and disturbing communal harmony,” Samad added.

Referring to the NIA, Abdur Rafiq, head of the West Bengal unit of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, said “it has not informed the families of the arrested persons on what charges they have been arrested. However, the same NIA is telling the media all sorts of stories.”

Talking to Clarion India, he cited one ‘fictitious’ story doing the rounds in the state. Bengali newspapers published news that a ‘tunnel’ has been discovered in the house of one of the arrested persons. But on the investigation by the public, it was found to be a septic tank attached to toilets of the house.

Referring to the NIA, he further added: “it is being used by the ruling BJP to advance its political agenda.” Rafiq strongly believes that the arrests were part of BJP’s strategy to polarise the electorate ahead of Assembly elections.

Six of the nine suspects–Najmus Sakib, Abu Sufiyan, Mainul Mondal, Leu Yean Ahmed, Al Mamun Kamal and Atitur Rehman were arrested from Murshidabad. The rest – Murshid Hassan, Yakoob Bishwas and Morshraf Hussien were arrested from Kerala’s Ernakulam district where they had gone to work as labourers.

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