KOLKATA - A court order declaring Noorul Huda innocent of terror charges after five years in prison did not bring much relief to the young Muslim who suffered humiliation, abuse and racial profiling behind jail bars.
I was arrested during Ramadan. But despite my appeal, the jail authorities refused to provide any food or drink to me to help me break my fast, Noorul Huda told OnIslam.net.
They stripped me, and they hit me on my legs and head with stick. They also kicked my private organs and I nearly fainted in pain.
The misery of the 24-year-old Muslim followed terror attacks in Malegaon, a town in southern India with a large Muslim population, in 2006.
Following the attacks, which killed 38 and injured more than 100 people, mostly Muslims, the forces of Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) arrested Noorul Huda along with eight other Muslim young men.
Soon after their arrest, the ATS charged the nine young Muslim men, announcing that the terror attack case had been solved.
As the men were sent to jail custody, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), another federal agency, confirmed that the men were guilty.
They also threatened to abduct my sister and rape my sister if I did not sign a confessional statement by declaring that I was part of the team that bombed Malegaon, the young Muslim added.
The first light towards proving their innocence appeared after 2008 attacks when India's premier federal investigation agency, National Investigation Agency (NIA), was established to investigate terrorist cases across the country.
Indentifying four Hindu radicals as culprits behind the Malegaon attack, the agency announced two weeks ago there was no proof to link the nine Muslim men.
As it became clear that the Muslim youths were wrongly accused in the case, India's junior home minister R P N Singh has described the arrest and jailing of the youths as extremely unfortunate.
Malegaon case shows that the government's decision to hand over the investigation to the NIA was a right move. It's extremely unfortunate that some innocent people were arrested and charge-sheeted in the case, Singh said.
We will take all necessary actions to ensure that such incident (of wrongful jailing of any innocent person) is not repeated in future.
Although the Mumbai court has not formally acquitted the nine youths in the Malegaon case as yet, the NIA's statement to the court has brought relief to the Muslim youths who were wrongly held in jail for more than five years.
Throughout India most newspapers and TV channels identified me as a terrorist after the ATS filed the charge-sheet against me, Raees Ahmed Ali, 35, said to OnIslam.net.
It brought immense ignominy to my life and family. In fact all nine of us faced the same fate.
Now after the NIA has told the court that we were innocent it has been established beyond doubt of anyone that we had no connection with terrorism at all and that we were framed and then jailed in the terror case wrongfully, he added.
Noorul Huda and Ali are not alone in this misery.
According to information obtained under Right to Information (RTI) Act, out of 1,222 under trial in Alipur Central Jail as of December 2011, 530 were Muslims.
Similarly, out of 2,200 under trial in UP's Ghazaibad jail, 530 were Muslims. Data received from other prisons of states are equally disquieting.
There are some 140 million Muslims in Hindu-majority India, the world's third-largest Muslim population after those of Indonesia and Pakistan.
Rights activist Shabnam Hashmi said that communally biased police and other prosecuting agencies are framing Muslim youths in terror cases in huge number.
In the bigger design of converting a democratic and secular India into a Hindutva Rashtra, the tool of terrorism has been used very effectively both by the right wing and by state to demonize minorities especially Muslims, Shabnam Hashmi, co-ordinator of the New Delhi-based rights group Act Now for Harmony and Democracy [Anhad] said to OnIslam.net.
There is communal biases have been now institutionalized and there is deep penetration of these prejudices especially in the police.
Hundreds of innocent boys have been victimized, arrested and tortured and killed in fake encounters.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net