2 years, 5 cities, 6 cases – and ‘proof’ everywhere is the same magazine

SIMI

On April 16, 2006, Khandwa in Madhya Pradesh was tense. There had been communal clashes a week ago during Eid-e-Milad. In the afternoon, policemen from the Kotwali police station arrested two women, 20-year-old Aasiya and 23-year-old Rafia, daughters of one Abdul Hafiz Qureshi. The police, in their seizure memo, claimed to have recovered "incriminating material" from Aasiya — three copies of an April 2004 issue of a Hindi magazine, Tehrik-e-Millat, and a SIMI donation receipt towards "office construction fund" (receipt no. 0033359, dated January 25, 2006) with the name "Kumari Aashiya Khan" in Hindi for an amount of Rs 500.

SIMI was banned in 2001. If an underground outfit issuing a donation receipt for a building on their old stationery seems unlikely, the story of the magazine is even more odd.

All the three copies of Tehrik-e-Millat allegedly recovered from Aasiya have her name written by hand in Hindi as "Aashiya" on the cover. The police also claimed to have seized two copies of Tehrik-e-Millat with "Rafia" written by hand in Hindi on the cover. Tehrik-e-Millat is a fortnightly published from Kota in Rajasthan. Though the Kotwali police station in Khandwa later booked the magazine's owner-editor M A Naiem, the magazine has never been proscribed.

This is not all. In the space of two years, these same copies of the April 2004 issue of Tehrik-e-Millat — with the names of the Khandwa sisters written by hand on the cover — travelled to at least two other states. Several cases later, the police even started referring to the magazine as "Tehrik Millat Aasiya" and "Tehrik Rafia" in their official records. However, other than their names on the magazines, the two sisters were never mentioned in police records.

July 2006, Pune

After the July 11, 2006, bomb explosions on local trains in Mumbai, the magazine popped up in the chargesheet filed by the Anti-Terrorism Squad, Mumbai. Among the 13 people arrested was Sohail Mehmood Shaikh of Bhimpura, Lashkar, Camp Area Pune, who was held on July 25, 2006. The ATS claimed Sohail went to Pakistan via Iran in November 2002 for arms training with the Lashkar-e-Toiba. They also said a search of Sohail's house in Bhimpura on July 30, 2006, had led to the recovery of six books including the "April 2004 Tahrik-e-Millat Asia" that had "Aashiya" written by hand on the cover. Police claimed to have recovered the same magazine, with the same handwritten "Aashiya", during searches at the homes of the other 7/11 accused — Mohd Faisal Ataur Rehman Shaikh of Bandra, Muzzamil Ataur Rehman Shaikh of Mira Road, Jameer Latifur Rehman Shaikh of Vallabhbhai Patel Nagar and Dr Tanvir Ahmad Mohd Ibrahim Ansari of Agripada, all in Mumbai.

... contd.

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