When Allah Baksh Yadwad walked free on May 2, acquitted of all charges of being a member of the banned outfit SIMI and planning “jihad” in India, the 30-year-old stepped into a world that had completely changed during the seven years he had spent in jail.
“My batchmates, even my juniors, are big doctors now, and I am nowhere,” he told The Sunday Express.
Yadwad didn’t fit the cliched narrative of a “school dropout turned terrorist”. He was a school topper and had completed his MBBS after making it to the Karnataka Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS) in Hubli on merit.
And, like many of the 17 men arrested in the 2008 “SIMI conspiracy case”, he was on the verge of a successful professional career, having made his way up from a two-room house that he shared with his parents — his father Waliullah, 57, is a railway employee — four brothers and a sister.
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“I have always been a strict father,’’ said Waliullah. “There is no way that my son would be involved in such a heinous crime. Nothing could have been hidden in a two-room house. We were not even aware of SIMI, what it was,” he added.
Waliullah said his second son has an MTech in Electronics, the third is an MBBS-degree holder, the fourth will finish his MTech in June, and the fifth is completing his BTech. “My daughter too has joined BTech,’’ he said.
“I have myself done two degrees — law and library sciences — and a diploma in sericulture,” he added.
When Yadwad was taken to the Vidyagiri police station in Dharwad on February 6, 2008, Waliullah was away in Bengaluru. “A day earlier, police had come to the hospital asking for the names and phone numbers of all the Muslim students. I didn’t suspect anything, they were friendly,” Yadwad said.
The next day, Waliullah went to the police station. “They refused to allow me to meet my son,” the father said.
Yadwad said he was “kept in jail along with death row convicts with a lot of security”. “This continued for almost nine months. By then, it seemed that the jail authorities had also got to know the truth and things started to ease,” he said.
Four months after the arrest, Waliullah suffered a major heart attack and had to undergo a bypass. “I was completely broken. We had lost everything. Our family had a very good reputation. That was all lost. And I had no way to help my son as well,’’ he said.
“I have lived my life on principles. My colleagues will vouch for that. I have been in trade unions, trying to help people all my life. I didn’t deserve to go through this. We have lived hand-to-mouth because everything depended on my salary alone. When Allah Baksh finished his degree, I hoped he would start earning and bring us some relief,” said Waliullah.
So why did police pick up his son? Waliullah believes it’s all to do with state politics. “When the first accused were arrested, the Karnataka Assembly had been dissolved and the elections were going to take place. Some political parties wanted to make this a poll issue. The politicians who took advantage of it and created a fear psychosis got elected,’’ he said.
Waliullah added that the “anguish and pain” that his family went through in those seven years made him want to file a petition against the police officers that “framed my son”. “But my wife refused. She is afraid police will be annoyed and take away my other children,’’ he said. But Waliullah is sure that he will get justice, some day. “We have lived in Hubli for generations. This is our country too, and that’s why I am expecting justice.’’