Tehelka Magazine, Vol 5, Issue 32, Dated Aug 16, 2008
The History Appraiser
Caught With His Books
Among Abdul Razik’s crimes: books, old issues of a SIMI
magazine and a talk on Muslims in the freedom struggle, Reports AJIT SAHI
Home: Kottayam, Kerala
Date of arrest: August 15, 2006
Charges: Criminal conspiracy,
sedition, unlawful association
Evidence: Possession of a book published in Pakistan, issues of Vivekam, a SIMI magazine published in Malayalam before the ban, and a booklet on State atrocities
ON AUGUST 15, 2006,
in his hometown of Kottayam in Kerala, Abdul Razik boarded a 6 am bus
for a three-hour journey to a village up north. To mark Independence Day,
the village Muslims had invited Razik, a scholar of some repute in the
community, to speak on the role of Muslims in India’s freedom struggle.
At 10 am, a group of 18 assembled at the ironically named Happy Auditorium.
When Razik started his lecture, three policemen he had earlier seen in
a jeep outside entered the hall. “They browsed through my notes and questioned
me,” Razik told TEHELKA during an interview at Thiruvananthapuram.
The entire group was taken
into custody but 13 were let off.
Five, including Razik, were arrested
and charged with (a) criminal
conspiracy to commit an offence
punishable with death or
life imprisonment; (b) sedition
by way of attempting to bring hatred
or contempt against the government
and “excite disaffection”
towards it; (c) being a member of
an unlawful association (yes, SIMI,
again); and (d) participating in its
meetings to incite unlawful activity.
So off went Razik and the
other four to jail.
The police claim this was a secret
meeting called by SIMI, but
cite no proof. The organisers deny
any SIMI link and say they put out
notices in the area, including at
the mosque. Happy Auditorium
sits squat in the middle of the village,
with bustling shops around,
including a well patronised bakery-
cum-teashop. The law says the
police must get “independent and
respectable inhabitants of the locality
in which the place to be
searched is situated” to stand witness.
One imagines there would
have been no dearth of witnesses
around a place like Happy Auditorium.
But the FIR against Razik
does not cite any such witnesses,
nor does it state whether the police
even tried to find any. The
only witnesses cited are two policemen.
The police say the five arrested
were SIMI activists. The host of
the meeting, a local by the name
of Nizamudheen, denies associating
with SIMI. This should be easy
to settle: the police have a list of
SIMI members seized from its office
sealed at the time it was
banned in 2001. But the police
make no reference to that list. Instead,
they say they collected the
list of SIMI members from the Intelligence
Bureau, without explaining
how that list can be
deemed incontrovertibly genuine.
From Razik, the police seized
a book titled Mass Resistance in
Kashmir: Origins, Evolutions,
Options. This book is authored
by a Pakistani scholar, Tahir
Amin, and is published by the Institute
of Policy Studies, Islamabad.
The book was issued to
Razik by a library run by the Jamaat-
e-Islami in Kerala. It certainly
reflects the typical
Pakistani position on Kashmir.
But is the possession of this book
unlawful? The Kerala police
wrote to the Centre asking if the
book is banned. The Centre
hasn’t yet answered. The police
have initiated no action against
the Jamaat library that owned it.
The “banned SIMI literature”
police claim to have seized includes
back issues of SIMI’s
Malayalam magazine, Vivekam, published before the ban.
Vivekam was registered with the
Registrar of Newspapers of India
and sold by subscription and on
newsstands. The issues allegedly
seized are of 1993, 1994, 1998
and 2000. No cases were made
out against Vivekam in those
years or afterwards. The police
also seized from Razik a booklet
with articles on the “repression
of Muslims” by state agencies.
Alleging misdeeds by the State
can’t be seditious, can it?
Yet, Razik spent 65 days in jail.
The Kerala High Court denied
him bail thrice, relenting only
when the police failed to submit
an update on the investigation,
which the judge had repeatedly ordered.
This February, the police
requested the district collector’s
sanction to begin prosecution. Six
months later, such sanction is still
awaited. The chargesheet is yet to
be filed. The trial is yet to begin.
Razik, 29, says he has been framed
because he was a SIMI member
from 1996 until the ban. Razik
holds MA and B.ED degrees. He has
worked as an editor of religious
books in Urdu and Malayalam.
His harassment by the police and
intelligence agencies began with
the ban. His house was often
searched; he was often questioned.
Never was a case found
against him. Even though the ban
on SIMI is lifted, the Damocles
sword still hangs over him. “I wasn’t
angry when I was in jail,” Razik
says. “I kept praying to god. I was
mentally prepared to be in prison
a long time.” •
The Thin Red Line
TARUN J TEJPAL
The Kafka Project
In a crucial investigation over three months, Editor-at-Large AJIT SAHI tracked the SIMI fictions across 11 cities
Inside The Whale: State Vs Shahid Badr Falahi
In case after case, the ex-president of SIMI has been the target of the law agencies’ absurd yet sinister charges, Reports AJIT SAHI
The Good Doctor's Complications
Absolved by several courts, a former SIMI office-bearer continues to face the stigma that bars him from home and job, Reports AJIT SAHI
They just want Muslim boys to always be in jail
Moutasim Billah has been a police scapegoat for seven years, even though they acknowledge they have nothing on him, Reports AJIT SAHI
A Doubtful Crime, And Years Of Unfair Punishment
Yasin Patel is the only SIMI activist to be convicted under POTA. His crime was nothing more serious than an offensive poster, Reports AJIT SAHI
The Cry Of The Beloved Country
Chilling stories of fathers and brothers swallowed by midnight arrests, as family members lack the resources for legal redr, Reports AJIT SAHI
The Haunt Of Our Past Lives
A leading Muslim outfit in Tamil Nadu is accused of killing Hindus. But the Centre’s lawyers can’t remember their own evidence, Reports AJIT SAHI
SIMI Here, SIMI There, SIMI Everywhere
This SIMI litigation is an omnibus case in which the 100 plus accused are now always at hand to be implicated in future cases, Reports AJIT SAHI
The History Appraiser Caught With His Books
Among Abdul Razik’s crimes: books, old issues of a SIMI magazine and a talk on Muslims in the freedom struggle, Reports AJIT SAHI
A Man Of God, Not A Man Of Terror
The Centre casually links a septuagenarian religious leader with SIMI — and then fails to sustain its reckless accusation against him, Reports AJIT SAHI
Dissent Or Don’t, You’re Damned Either Way
Since when did protest get you called a jehadi? Ask M. Elliyas, jailed under a ludicrous law, Reports AJIT SAHI
The Left Hand Doesn't Know, Or Doesn't It?
The bizarre case of Ziauddin Siddiqui, injured in a clash with police, given compensation — and then accused of rioting and sedition, Reports AJIT SAHI
The Case Of The Absconding Lawyer
Midway through the tribunal, a key SIMI lawyer is suddenly arrested in an old, forgotten case and released as arguments end, Reports AJIT SAHI
A Judge Stirs A Hornet's Nest
Mere opinions, a stunning abscence of facts and gross violations of law in the Centre’s case against SIMI are what moved tribunal judge Geeta Mittal to reject the ban, Reports AJIT SAHI
‘The Supreme Court’s stay is a murder of justice’
Despite the setback, SIMI’s ex-president Shahid Badr Falahi is confident the body will be legitimate again, Reports AJIT SAHI
Terror Has Two Faces
A shadowy, pan-Islamic seditious organisation or merely a conservative Islamist and politically conscious student group? Read and draw your own conclusions on SIMI, Reports AJIT SAHI