When ISI became a ‘front for SIMI’

National

In the circles of police's "SIMI investigations", the name Maulana Naseeruddin comes up often. Sometimes he has been charged, sometimes his sons, sometimes his acquaintances. In one such case against an "associate" of his son, the Hyderabad police filed an affidavit before the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Tribunal calling Pakistan's ISI a front of SIMI.

Asked by the tribunal to explain his claim, P Devender, then inspector in Saidabad police station, reiterated that "it is correct that in my affidavit when I referred to Inter Service Intelligence, I am referring to Inter Service Intelligence of Pakistan" and that the nodal officer of Andhra Pradesh will be "filing a secret note on the basis of which this statement has been made".

Moutasim Billa

DEVENDER'S affidavit, filed on June 11, 2010, was part of the government's evidence to justify the continuance of the ban on SIMI. To substantiate his claim that SIMI was "functioning under various fronts like the ISI", Devender cited a case registered in March 2008 at the Saidabad police station when he was an inspector there.

It concerned Moutasim Billa, 22, of Jevan Yar Jung Colony, Saidabad, who had been arrested on March 5, 2008, from near his residence. Devender claimed that Billa was arrested because he had been booked in an FIR (198/2007) at the Gopalapurram police station.

Devender also called him a close associate of "the son of Maulana Naseeruddin", who is a "SIMI activist". Naseeruddin and Billa's father, Mohammad Aleem Islahi, are well-known clerics in Saidabad and their families used to be close then. Along with Naseeruddin's, Islahi's is the other address frequently at the centre of any terror investigation in Hyderabad.

At the time of Billa's arrest, the Hyderabad police had claimed that it was in connection with two "rioting" cases registered against him, in 2004 (an incident involving the death of his brother) and in 2007 (for terror conspiracy and sedition, registered at the Gopalapurram police station). Hyderabad police had booked 21 Muslim youths including Billa for a terror conspiracy and subsequently linked them to the Mecca Masjid blasts. Billa and the other accused were acquitted on December 31, 2008. The Mecca Masjid blast case finally took a new turn after Swami Aseemanand's confession in December 2010, which implied that these Muslim men had all been wrongly blamed. Eighty-two Muslim men had been picked up, interrogated or booked and all were subsequently acquitted.

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