Under the guise of a crackdown on an alleged “ISIS module”, the Uttar Pradesh police hunt down Muslim youth with full vigour. In the past two months, nine current and former students of Aligarh Muslim University have been arrested over terror charges from different places inside and outside the state.
According to a statement of the police, the arrests were made under an FIR, which the UP Anti-Terrorism Squad lodged in Lucknow on November 3, 2023, against 10 persons. The charges include sections 121A and 122 of the Indian Penal Code along with sections 13, 18, 18B, and 38 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
Out of the 10 accused, nine have been arrested so far, according to ATS officials.
The charges include “conspiracy against the state”, “collecting arms to wage war against the government of India”, “conspiring or attempting to commit a terrorist act”, and “recruiting people for terrorist acts and association with any terror group.”
According to the ATS version, the accused individuals are accomplices in a major plan to carry out terrorist activities in the state and other parts of the country. The investigation report of the agency labels all accused as members of the Islamic State module of Aligarh operating to “hatch conspiracy to spread terror and carry out acts of violence across the country.”
Two former students of AMU — Abdullah Arsalan (25) and Maaz Bin Tariq (26) — were among the first to be arrested by UP-ATS following raids at their homes in Aligarh city, on November 5, 2023. Both were shifted to Lucknow after the arrest. Another former student from AMU, Wajihudeen, was also arrested in Chhattisgarh after two days.
Later, on November 11, the ATS arrested four others — Raqib Imam (29), an engineering master’s graduate from AMU; Mohammad Noman (27), an arts graduate; Naved Siddiqui (23), currently studying B.Sc and Mohammad Nazim (33).
While Raqib was arrested in Aligarh, Noman, Nazim, and Naved were arrested from their hometowns in Sambhal district.
The latest arrests in the sequence were made on January 8, 2024, Monday. the ATS made the latest arrests in the matter. While Abdul Samad Malik (25), another native of Sambhal, surrendered in a local court, Amas alias Faraz Ahmad was arrested in Aligarh, the police said.
Abdul Samad is currently enrolled in a Master’s program in Social Work at AMU. Faraz, who completed a Bachelor’s in Psychology from the university in 2022, was aspiring to continue his further studies in management studies. He appeared in an MBA entrance examination last year.
The UP ATS has earlier announced a reward of Rs 25,000 each for both of them.
The UP ATS alleged that the nine men who have been arrested in the ongoing investigation were preparing an ISIS module in AMU and recruiting others for it. As per the narrative of the investigation officers, all of them had sworn and were administering an oath of allegiance to recruits.
The ATS officials said that they recovered “printed literature” of “ISIS” and “AQIS” (Al Qaeda Indian Subcontinent) and a pen drive with ISIS propaganda from the arrested persons. The recovered literature promotes “terrorism” and “anti-national” ideology, the ATS added.
According to the investigation report, the arrested men were planning to overthrow the government through a “violent jihad,” and impose “Sharia law.” The police also said that they were distributing ISIS literature among “like-minded people” and were using online and physical meetings to physically and mentally train people for jihad.
Notably, the investigation report of the Mumbai ATS has also presented a similar account regarding the recent arrests in Maharashtra.
All of the arrested youth were linked to the SAMU (Students of Aligarh Muslim University), an informal student body, which has been actively working inside the campus for years.
“Most of the activities of SAMU are related to preserving the spiritual integrity of human life against the corruption of modernity and liberalism,” a former student of AMU told Maktoob on the condition of anonymity.
Every year, they organize a month-long campaign on campus, “Al-Haya Min Allah” (Modesty is from Allah), against immorality.
Many students while speaking to Maktoob have expressed their discontent in the investigation which has been pronouncing large conclusions without proper evidence at the initial stage.
An AMU official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told The Wire that the narrative, which the police were trying to build, was “baseless.”
The AMU proctor Wasim Ali said that no state agency had provided them with any official information on the arrests while he got to know about them from the media, as reported by The Wire.