CAIRO - Tagging them as possible terrorists, the Indian government has been accused of racially profiling the Muslim minority, holding many youth for years in captivity without charges.
"There are a lot of people like me in jail, Mohammed Amir Khan, who was released by court after five years in jail without a charge, told Deutsche Welle
Those who are guilty must be punished but let the innocents out. Because it is not the question of one individual, the entire family suffers," he added.
Muslims Languish in India Jails
Khan is one of hundreds of Muslims youth who were held for years without charges in Indian jails.
Walking as a free man in January this year, Khan, 32, realized how much the world outside had changed.
He was first captured at the age of 18 after being branded a terrorist by Delhi police.
The son of a Delhi toy shop owner was accused of masterminding 19 bombings in Delhi and three other places between December 1996 and October 1997.
He spent 14 years of his prime in a solitary cell in the capital's Tihar jail and other state jails. A Delhi court finally acquitted him this year for lack of evidence, yet the terrorist tag has destroyed his life.
Khan was not alone in this misery.
Earlier this year, a dozen Muslim youth were let off by a court the southern city of Hyderabad after spending five years in jail on trumped of charges of being involved in a bomb blast in the historic Mecca Masjid mosque.
"They were arrested, tortured and falsely implicated in the case. And ironically they got compensation from the same government machinery which had labeled them as anti-national," social activist Shabnam Hashmi said.
It is as though a new wave of counter-terrorism has been launched to terrorize youth belonging to the Muslim community.
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.
The innocent release was not enough for some Muslims.
Late justice came to Ishrat Jahan who was found innocent nine years after her death along with three others by the Gujarat Police.
"The shooting was a staged encounter carried out "in cold blood." the Central Bureau of Investigation in its final report this week.
The killing was a joint operation between the Gujarat Police and the state's Intelligence Bureau," said
The case has galvanized the Muslim community again who are angry over the unfair targeting of Muslims in the name of fighting terror.
"What was my sister's crime that she was labeled a terrorist? Who is to blame? She has been vilified right through and now we demand the death penalty for the culprits," Mussarat Jahan, the younger sister of Ishrat, told Deutsche Welle.
Sixteen of these cases were documented by civil right group, Jamia Teachers Solidarity Action.
Another compilation titled "What it means to be a Muslim in India today" documents atrocities committed against Muslims in the name of fighting terrorism and testimonies of those who were released after being tortured in jails across the country.
Is it not strange that whenever there has been a terror attack, a bunch of Muslim boys are arrested and their names aired in the media as masterminds?, G. S. R. Darapuri, a former police official, said.
This current ugly phenomenon of racial profiling has to stop. There is certainly a bias.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net