A year ago, Shakir Ansari was arrested from Deoband for alleged terror links. After a nine-month trial, the 20-year-old was acquitted. Relieved, Shakir’s family said they want the government to set up fast-track courts so that innocent people do not have to spend years in jail.
The Delhi Police Special Cell arrested Shakir from his residence in Deoband, Uttar Pradesh, on May 3, 2016, for allegedly setting up an IS-inspired ‘jihadist’ group and for links with Jaish-e-Mohammad. On February 7, the court of Additional Sessions Judge Reetesh Singh acquitted him of all charges, stating that the police could not produce any evidence to back their claims.
“My brother was innocent. That is why no charge was proved. He was lucky. I think the government machinery should set up fast-track courts so that innocent people do not have to spend several years behind bars,” Dr Zubair Ansari, Shakir’s eldest brother, told The Indian Express.
Shakir now runs a small shop in Deoband. His family said they had faced a lot of harassment during the nine months of trial, and were keeping a low profile so as not to attract further harassment. “I have no grudge against the probe agency, but I cannot explain what we have suffered in these nine months. I thank Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, our counsel and the judiciary for taking the side of truth,” said Zubair, sitting in his clinic at Okhla’s Haji Colony.
He said he had lived in Delhi for 20 years with his family. “We live in this country and we stand for it. How could we promote terrorism?”
According to Zubair, Shakir finished school and got a job in a showroom at South Extension. He quit after a year because the showroom owner objected to his beard. He went back to Deoband and started running a shop of mobile accessories.
Shakir was arrested along with Sameer and Sajid following raids by the Delhi Police Special Cell at their residences in Delhi’s Chandbagh and UP’s Loni, respectively. The police said that Sajid was heading a ring inspired by IS ideology. They claimed he was in touch with a cyber entity ‘Talha’, which was believed to be linked to JeM head Maulana Masood Azhar. They also claimed to have recovered one live IED, one damaged IED and materials like batteries, timer device, wires and suspected explosive powder from Sajid’s residence.
The police said the trio were planning to make a bomb, and that Sajid was about to get a passport for Shakir to travel to abroad.
“My brother was picked up at midnight when he was sleeping at home. The police did not allow him to put on clothes. I told him not to lie to interrogators. He broke down and assured me he had done nothing wrong,” said Zubair.
He said they had no money to fight the case, but the Jamiat helped them financially.
When contacted, Shakir’s lawyer M S Khan said the court was not convinced with the police’s claim that Shakir had attended a meeting at Sajid’s residence for making a dummy bomb.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Sanjeev Yadav) told The Indian Express that they had moved the High Court against the order. “The hearing is on October 23,” said Yadav.
The trial of the other two accused is on, he added.