Bangalore; Retired teacher Zubeida Khanum’s family in Karachi, Pakistan, has been spending sleepless nights after the murderous attack on Sarabjit Singh in Lahore jail. The retaliatory attack on a Pakistani prisoner, Sanaullah Haq, in a Jammu jail has only heightened their apprehension.
Ms. Khanum fears for the safety of her son, Mohammad Fahad, the only Pakistani prisoner in Karnataka, who has been lodged in the Hindalga jail in Belgaum.
The 31-year-old, whose family is originally from Kerala, was arrested along with Ali Hussein (a Kashmiri, now in Srinagar prison) by the Mysore police on October 27, 2006, on the charges of plotting terror attacks in Mysore and Bangalore.
A source close to Fahad, who is alleged to be a member of terror outfit Al-Badr, was moved to the Belgaum jail from the Gulbarga Central Jail in November 2012 for security reasons. The source said that Fahad feared for his life as he believed that some persons were trying to turn other prisoners against him.
His cell is near those of convicts on death row (members of the Dandupalya and Veerappan gangs). He is not allowed to mingle with other convicts and undertrials, the source said.
Lawyer is concerned
Expressing concern about his safety, his advocate B.N. Jagadish said he would speak to the authorities to ensure adequate security for him. “We should not allow a repeat of … Lahore and Jammu here. Proper security has to be given to Fahad.”
According to him, Fahad’s trial before the 3rd Additional Sessions Court in Mysore had come to a halt due to a stay by the Karnataka High Court on an application by the Enforcement Directorate. “Enforcement authorities want to club a money-laundering case they have filed against him with the case in Mysore. They also want the case to be transferred to Bangalore.” Meanwhile, Additional Director-General of Police (Prisons) K.V. Gagandeep, confirming that Fahad was the only Pakistani national currently lodged in a Karnataka jail, said his security had been reviewed after the recent incidents. “He has been allotted a separate cell and a separate guard for his security.”
“After I learnt about the attack on a Pakistani prisoner in Jammu jail, I am praying for Fahad,” said Ms. Khanum, speaking to The Hindu over telephone from Karachi on Saturday. Her son had visited India on a valid passport and visa to see his grandmother in Kerala. “He has been held on false charges, and each day we live with the hope of his return. Although it is difficult for us to make ends meet, we have been doing everything we can for his return. There is no authority that we have not met.”
Recalling his latest letter written to her last month, an emotional Ms. Khanum said: “He had written that he is staying with death row convicts. This has only increased our tension.”
Their relatives from Kerala had avoided meeting him because they did not want any trouble. “We send whatever we can from here [clothes and food]. But most of the time they don’t reach him.”
Asked whether anyone from Pakistan had visited Fahad, she said both she and her husband were plagued by ill health. “I have not allowed his two brothers and four sisters to visit him because I am scared.”
Recalling happier times, Ms. Khanum said Fahad used to give tuitions in chemistry and maths to her students and hoped to take up higher studies.
On Sarabjit’s murder, she had this to say: “It is wrong in the name of humanity. I was shocked when I heard about it. It should not have happened.”
(Sharath S. Srivatsa & Afshan Yasmeen)