‘They put me in jail because I have a beard and run a madrassa’https://indianexpress.com/article/news-archive/web/they-put-me-in-jail-because-i-have-a-beard-and-run-a-madrassa/

‘They put me in jail because I have a beard and run a madrassa’

Maulana Noor-ul-Huda,a respected Islamic scholar who was taken off an international flight,arrested and thrown into Tihar jail.

Maulana Noor-ul-Huda,the respected Islamic scholar who was taken off an international flight,arrested and thrown into Tihar jail because a woman co-passenger misunderstood what he was saying,believes the police reacted to the way he looks and what he does,rather than to the facts of the situation.

“I had to spend a night in jail just because I have a long beard and I am from Deoband and I run a madrassa. More than the mobile phone conversation,it seems to me that my profile appeared suspicious to them,” Huda said. “I kept saying that I am a religious man who tries to make people better human beings,but it didn’t help.”

Huda was forced to get off Emirates flight EK511 en route to London via Dubai on Wednesday morning after the passenger in the seat next to his thought he was telling someone on his mobile that he was about to blow up the aircraft (udaane waala hoon).

Actually,the maulana was only telling his son that the aircraft would take off soon (udne waala hai).

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Emerging from Tihar after being bailed today,Huda described what had happened. “I was talking to my son after settling in my seat. He asked me when I would be airborne. I replied,‘Jahaaz udne waala hai’ (the plane is about to take off),” he said.

“After that,I switched off my phone and waited. After a while I began to wonder why we were not taking off. I also realized then that the woman sitting next to me was not in her seat,” Huda said.

According to the police,the woman,an NRI reportedly living in the US,had overheard Huda’s conversation,got out of her seat and told the crew that he was about to bomb the aircraft.

“Then some plane officials came and stood around my seat,” Huda said. “They asked for my papers and wanted to know whom I had been speaking to. They then told me to get off the plane,saying they would send me by the next flight. But then,the police arrested me. They should have understood the meaning of ‘udna’. What else was I supposed to say?”

Huda said the police had treated him well,but he had still suffered enormous mental torture. They had asked him why he was associated with a madrassa connected to the Deoband seminary,and why he had come to Delhi,he said.

Huda runs the Madrassa Dar-ul Uloom Farooqiya at Deoband in Saharanpur,UP,and was going to attend a conference in London. He is one of the 10 children of the respected Urdu ustad at Dar-ul-Uloom Deoband,Abdur Raheem Bastawi.

The police also called up Huda’s 18-year-old son Fazlullah,who had accompanied his father to Delhi and to the airport,and had made the call that created the confusion.

“The police should have set my father free after they had established he was a respected man who has never done anything illegal in his life,” Fazlullah said. “But instead,they arrested him and put him in prison. For what? We had never seen a jail before,never been to a court before. This is the first time this has happened to anyone in our family.”

Fazlullah said he had come to Delhi also to check out some coaching centres that teach English. “I am doing my Class 12 through the National Institute of Open Schooling. I wanted to look at some places that teach English. I want to do a B.Com,” he said.

Fazlullah said the police called him when he was at a friend’s home in Welcome Colony after dropping his father at the airport. “They told me there were some problems in Abbu’s documents,and he would be sent to London by another flight. But a few hours after that,Abbu’s phone was switched off. I was very tense.” According to the family,the police questioned Huda until 3 am on Thursday.

Qamar-ul-Huda,the younger brother of Noor-ul-Huda,said,“Just because the woman misunderstood the conversation between father and son,this problem was created. This is totally wrong. This is be-izzati. Because we wear a beard and a kurta,we are seen as being Osama (bin Laden).”

Khairullah,another of Huda’s brothers,said Huda keeps travelling across the world to deliver lectures,but has never faced a problem. “He is very tense. Our sister has not stopped crying since the time she heard this has happened,” said Khairullah.

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Rehmatullah Noor,the eldest of Huda’s five children,said,“Kabhi socha bhi nahin tha aisa hoga.” (We had never imagined something like this would happen.)