On 27 September, three women and a child from Kerala were sent to jail by Uttar Pradesh police for allegedly using fake COVID RT-PCR certificates. Jailed women are from two families visiting Popular Front of India members, Anshad Badruddin and Firoz Khan, languishing in Lucknow jail since February under draconian UAPA in connection with Hathras conspiracy case and some other cases with grave offences.
The two Muslim men are accused of planning multiple blasts, a claim refuted by PFI and family members.
Anshad Badruddin’s wife Muhsina, his Mother Naseema, seven-year-old son Athif and Firoz Khan’s mother Haleema are sent to jail.
According to KC Naseer, a Kerala based lawyer who accompanied the families, there has been no communication with the jailed women since Monday.
“They were traumatised. We have not heard from them after that,” Naseer told Maktoob. Kins are worried about the health of two elderly incarcerated far away from their home state.
Athif was sent to jail with his mother, as no immediate family was available. The prisoners can only speak Malayalam and one of the elderly is diabetic.
Firoz Khan’s wife Saujath and her four children have fled back to Kerala on Wednesday, fearing further police intimidation. A close relative told Maktoob, she was “deeply shocked” by the episode.
PFI on Wednesday came out with a press release, strongly condemned the arrest of family members in a “false” case due to political vendetta.
“All tests were taken together. How can only three become fake,” asks C A Rauf, public relations secretary of PFI Kerala. Rauf told Maktoob that the organisation is taking stock of the situation and have taken the necessary steps to immediately secure bail in the case.
The bail application is listed on 05 October.
“For a glimpse”
The group reached Lucknow on 23 September, in anticipation of seeing their jailed kin at the court hearing. Unfortunately, the accused were produced through video conferencing, foiling their plan.
“We agreed to stay and visit them at the jail as we have come so far,” states Naseer.
On Sunday, they arrived at the jail with supporting documents, including RT-PCR certificates, mandatory for jail visits due to the pandemic.
They were told to wait longer due to extra work for high-security prisoners. Amidst that, Naseer claims that police offered to set up the meeting in some other place, but the family declined, doubting foul play.
Later police took them outside and asked everyone to get into a police vehicle.
Naseer and a local advocate assisting him questioned the police, who got aggravated. Police intimidated the group, including five children, to oblige their instructions.
“Some bystanders, including lawyers, intervened and stopped the police from taking us with them. We left the jail complex immediately”.
However, police were at the door of their hotel rooms within an hour. Naseer told Maktoob that they had not revealed any details other than their contact number to the jail authorities.
“The children were scared by the rogue nature of police. I started filming the police action, which I was forced to stop”.
Nasser says police asked the hotel to stop the CCTV recording. They were taken to a police station and told that three test certificates were “fake”.
“I told them all of us took the test from the same lab. How can only a few of them be genuine and others fake”. At 10 pm that night, police released Firoz Khan’s family except for his mother, who was detained along with Anshad’s family.
On Monday, the women were sent to jail. (The story will be updated once we got access to FIR).
According to Saujath, Anshad Badruddin and Firoz Khan travelling through in villages of Bihar and West Bengal to “strengthen the organisation”. They were arrested on their return journey by UP police.
“Firoz had no criminal record. He was here to serve other people,” The mother of four told Maktoob in August.
However, UP Special Task Force claims the arrests were made on Picnic Spot Road on Lucknow outskirts in a joint operation with central agencies. Police also told the media that 16 explosive devices, batteries and detonators, a pistol and live cartridges were recovered from them.
The duo is also named in Hathras conspiracy case, connecting it with the PFI link.
“They were travelling with a ticket to Mumbai and planned to come home from there,” Saujath added.