Claiming innocence in the 2003 “jihadi conspiracy case” to avenge the 2002 post Godhra riots in Gujarat, Hyderabad-based cleric Abdul Qavi on Sunday said that he shouldn’t have been arrested like a thief by the Gujarat Police as he was not hiding from anyone.
Qavi, who was released on bail from Sabarmati Central Jail after more than four months, said, “I have been attending seminars and conferences for the past 10 years, while traveling across the nation, including Gujarat and abroad. My name often appeared in newspapers, and yet the police never apprehended me,” Qavi said to a gathering of mediapersons on his way back to Hyderabad.
Qavi, Rector of Madrasa Ashraful Uloom in Hyderabad, who is also the vice-president of Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind (JUH), was escorted by dozens of JUH members and his supporters. The JUH members said they had invited the media not for a press conference, but “to introduce Qavi on their requests”. They said that following Qavi’s arrest, the news was covered across the country, therefore, his release on bail should also be highlighted.
“Is case me mere khilaf koi haqiqat nahi hai. Hamne kabhi kisi ko sheh nahi diya na hi kisi ki himmat badhai aur sajish rachi. Meri mehnat majhab aur hindustaniyon ke liye hai. (There is no truth in this case. I never gave shelter to anyone, encouraged anyone or was never part of any conspiracy. I work for the religion and the people of this country).”
Qavi was arrested from Delhi airport on March 23 by officials of the city’s Detection of Crime Branch. He was wanted for more than 11 years in the alleged “jihadi conspiracy case.” The crime branch had arrested a number of people allegedly for conspiring and executing several terrorist strikes in Ahmedabad that was also linked to the killing of BJP leader Haren Pandya. A witness, Rizwan Ansari, had said that one of the main accused Rasool Party had met Qavi at a meeting in Hyderabad, in which it was decided to send young Muslims to Pakistan for “terrorist training”. Ansari eventually turned hostile.
Qavi said, “Hamko choro-bhagoro ki tarah nahi giraftaar karna chahiye tha. (I should not have been arrested like a thief or absconder).”
He said that he never received a notice from Gujarat or Hyderabad police. “I came to know that my name has appeared in the case from the newspapers. But I was never approached by the police. My whole life was open before the authorities,” Qavi said.
Asked if there was any political reason behind his arrest, he said, “The time of arrest was like that.”