My father is jailed for exercising his constitutional rights

Taqdees Fatimah

On June 20, the ATS had arrested my father, Umar Gautam, and accused him of running a forced “conversion racket”. The media trials have tarnished our reputation, particularly my father’s esteemed public image. It has been five months since my father is behind bars because he exercised his constitutional rights. He promoted and cultivated Islamic knowledge among Muslims & Non-Muslims.

ATS arrested my father because he was building the bridge between religions to remove misconceptions about Islam. Moreover, my father’s intention was not to manipulate or coerce people to embrace Islam rather he was passionate to share the message of Islam i.e., brotherhood, tranquillity, humanity, and love to become better representatives to motivate and encourage others to become better human beings.

It is disheartening to witness my father endure sufferings and agonies for a crime he has not committed. I cannot talk to my father on call as our number has not been verified yet despite several attempts. We meet him once in 15 days in Lucknow jail for barely 15 to 20 mins. I cannot hold my father’s hand to comfort him because we talk through a wired window.

Whenever I visit Lucknow jail, my heartbreak into pieces to witness my father confined to this kind of environment where he is a convict and he has no options but to adapt. My mother and I become tongue-tied and spend a majority of time sobbing while communicating with my father. My father consoles us with his gentle words and gives reassurance that this too shall pass, keep faith and patience.

It has been months and there is nobody to extend their hands for emotional, financial, and spiritual support. We are fighting our battle alone.

We meet and called multiple lawyers to ask about my father’s bail and how long will it take to revoke the case etc. Sometimes, people mock us for asking such questions to the lawyers. Because they think we are being restless or emotional.

However, little do they know how exhausted we are emotionally and mentally. Our family is falling apart. My mother’s physical health and mental health are affected adversely. My brother Adil is shattered and cannot focus on his job as he has to take off from the office for keeping his sanity.

On 6th, ATS arrested my youngest brother, Abdullah Umar, from Noida when he was heading towards Fortis Hospital along with my mother and brother. Abdullah was suffering from a viral infection and ATS officers dragged him out of the car, snatched away his mobile phone.

On the other hand, my mother was flabbergasted and could not figure out why the officers detained Abdullah in an inhumane manner with no warrant or notice. My mother asked them to give reasons for the arrest but they refused to acknowledge it.

When I called my mother to ask about Abdullah’s medical tests, she broke down in tears and narrated what happened to Abdullah.

Abdullah has no role to play in the “religious conversion racket” and he has no involvement in the distribution of the money to those who converted to Islam as claimed by the ATS. Abdullah is innocent and he is being framed by the ATS officers. The accusations are baseless and fabricated. My brother is generous, compassionate, kind, and caring to others. He gives respect to everyone including sweepers or gatekeepers.

He never thought about Hindu-Muslim stuff, rather he believes in coexisting and tolerance. My brother’s career is at stake. He cannot continue his MBA course because he is trapped in false accusations. Our family is wrecked. We hope the justice to be served with no delay because we have no strength to endure any more mental and emotional stress and it is becoming laborious for us to keep up with the injustice and retard legal procedures.

Taqdees Fatimah is the daughter of jailed Muslim scholar, Mohammed Umar Gautam. Her father and brother are arrested by Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terrorist Squad in a case linked with religious conversion.