In April 2019, the Kerala High Court acquitted five men charged in the so-called “Panayikkulam terror camp case” of 2006.
Nizamudeen, Razik Raheem, Shammas, Ansar and P.A. Shaduli, were among the 17 who had been arrested for allegedly organising a secret meeting of the banned Students’ Islamic Movement of India in Ernakulam district. They were accused of speaking against the Indian government and the military.
While 12 of them were let go the next day, the five were sentenced by a special court of the National Investigation Agency. Ansar and Razik got 14 years in prison for sedition. Shammas, Shaduli and Nizamudeen were given 12 years each under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
The convicted men approached the Kerala High Court, which acquitted all of them. The court observed that there was no evidence to show their speeches were seditious. “We are of the view that the prosecution has miserably failed to prove the contents of the impugned speeches,” the court said in its judgement.
On the website Scroll, T.A. Ameerudheen writes:
“The acquitted men are also angry with the media for “acting as mouthpieces of the police” and spreading “blatant lies” against them. “Media made our lives miserable by publishing unsubstantiated and imaginative stories,” said Razik, who has a diploma in journalism and a post-graduate degree in Malayalam language and literature.
A day after the five men were arrested, Malayalam newspapers Mangalam and Kerala Kaumudi had reported, quoting anonymous police officials, that they were conspiring to bomb Aluva railway station. “Both newspapers reported the police had seized from us an Aluva railway station map and an India map without Kashmir,” Razik recalled. “They also wrote the police had seized a book called ‘Mass Resistance in Kashmir’ and published by the Institute of Police Research in Pakistan from us. If the police had seized all this material, why did they not submit in court? The newspapers spread blatant lies.”
The media did not even spare his wife, Razik said, portraying her as a “terrorist with international links”.
On October 29, 2006, Kerala Kaumudi reported that Razik’s wife, who was working with the software giant IBM in Bangalore, had close links with Pakistani terrorists, and the police suspected her of helping terrorists use IBM’s servers.
“The police planted the story to show my wife and I were terrorists,” Razik said. “My wife lost her hard-earned, well-paying job, and a promising career, because of irresponsible journalists and media owners. It further damaged our financial situation. She had completed just six months as a software developer with IBM. She had got the job through campus recruitment.”
None of the media houses that “spread lies” against them have published an apology since the High Court’s ruling, Razik complained. “In 2010, the Australian government said sorry to an Indian doctor for wrongly detaining him on terror charges,” he said. “Don’t we deserve to get an apology from the media houses that tarnished our image in public?”
A similar question is being asked in Bangalore, where TV channels painted a man wearing a skullcap at a metro station as a “terror-suspect” in the wake of the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings, only to learn that he was a beggar seeking zakat.
After a CCTV grab of his profile was aired repeatedly, Sajid Khan, 38, from Rajasthan says: “The media made me a pawn in their game. Can they bring back my honour? How can the media brand anyone a terrorist like this?”
Screenshot: courtesy Scroll
Read the full story: “Why did media print fake stories against us?”