Facing a serious charge that he had aided Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), A. Thameem Ansari, a former activist of the Students Federation of India, claims that he has been made a scapegoat by the authorities.
A native of Adhirampattinam in Thanjavur district, Ansari was released recently from Tiruchi Central Prison, where he had spent over six months.
The Madras High Court quashed his detention under the National Security Act.
Days after his release, a fresh case was booked against him by the Tiruchi City Police, for allegedly abusing and threatening a ‘Q’ Branch Sub-Inspector near the District Court, where he has to sign before the Judicial Magistrate twice a day.
In September 2012, the ‘Q’ Branch CID arrested Ansari when he was proceeding to the Tiruchi airport to board a flight to Colombo and allegedly seized “from his possession two DVDs containing visuals of paragliding training of the Indian Army and an Army Signal Corps parade.” He was charged with aiding the ISI through two Sri Lankan nationals - Haji and Shaji - whom he had allegedly met during business trips to Colombo.
In an interview to The Hindu, a few days after his release, Ansari termed the charges false.
He claimed he was detained for enquiry at the airport as his passport was found to be damaged but was arrested subsequently.
Although Ansari conceded that he knew Haji, also known as Siraj Ali well, he maintained that he did not know Shaji or Amir Zubair Siddiq, said to be a Pakistani official in Colombo, and cited as the fourth accused in the case.
The former medical representative, who holds two postgraduate degrees, claimed that he was engaged in exporting onions and potatoes through Siraj Ali, a Sri Lankan buyer.
“I had extensive contacts with Siraj Ali as he was my buyer. Another Sri Lankan trader with whom I had business links was Fazil. I don’t know anybody by name of Shaji or any Pakistan official.” He claimed to have met Siraj Ali in 2010 and subsequently made six or seven visits to Colombo, besides Maldives and Singapore.
In September last year (when he was detained), he was heading for Colombo as he was deep in debt and was planning to meet Siraj Ali there to get some arrears in payment cleared.
“All my transactions were done legally. My name is registered as an exporter in Tuticorin and Panvel ports. I have bills for every business deal and money transactions done through banks.”
Ansari alleged that the real motive behind his arrest might have been to divert people’s attention from controversies over the Kudankulam issue and the then raging protests over the English movie, ‘Innocence of Muslims.’
“I was made a scapegoat by the government, the Q Branch and the Intelligence Bureau and this is completely unjustified,” he claimed and alleged that the whole idea might have been “to portray somebody belonging to a minority community as a terrorist with foreign links with a view to stifling the protests at that juncture.”
“Barring my two cell phones, no DVD was seized (as claimed by the police) from me. Since my arrest, my friends have started distancing themselves. I am an ordinary citizen and powerless to take on the government. All I want is my life back. I have to live for my children,” Ansari said.