Mohammad Alam, the cab driver who drove journalist Siddique Kappan and four others to Hathras over two years ago and was arrested along with them, has been granted bail in the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) case that he was charged under by the Enforcement Directorate (ED). Alam had earlier secured bail in the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) case on 23 August by the Allahabad High Court but remained in jail due to his continued arrest in the PMLA case. “He was finally granted bail by the Lucknow Sessions Court on Monday, 31 October in the PMLA case as well,” Saifan Sheikh, Alam’s lawyer told The Quint.
Alam, 31, had been arrested along with Kappan and others on 5 October, when he drove the journalist to Hathras to cover the rape and murder of the 19-year-old Dalit girl.
While Kappan was also granted bail in the UAPA case on 9 September, his bail in the PMLA case was rejected by the Lucknow sessions court on Monday.
'He Spent More Than Half Our Married Life In Jail': Wife
Speaking to The Quint, Alam’s wife Bushra said that she is over the moon over her husband’s bail. “He has been in jail for over two years. Two years and 1 month, almost. Our lives got completely altered in this period. He is an innocent man. So he shouldn’t have been in jail even for a day. But here he ended up languishing in jail for over two years,” she said.
Bushra had earlier told The Quint that she got married to Alam on 11 March 2019, so he effectively ended up spending more time in jail than the two did together, as a married couple. "He has spent more than half of our married life in jail. While I have spent it worried sick, trying to find ways to get him out. It's been miserable," she said.
Bushra said Alam had been working as a driver, and only recently bought a car, so he could take more assignments and earn for the family. “He was a simple driver, with no savings. Drivers take whatever assignments they get. But he was unnecessarily linked to a case. A simple driver’s name was tarnished. He was an honest driver kept in jail for two years over nothing," Bushra said.
Allegations Against Alam
Alam was reportedly accused of receiving 2.25 lakh rupees (alleged proceeds of crime) and then paying the amount to another individual for the purchase of the vehicle which he was driving at the time of his arrest in Hathras.
But the Allahabad High Court addressed these allegations in their order granting bail under the UAPA to Alam.
“After careful examination of the material available on record, the only evidence against the appellant on which the prosecution hammered much, is the payment of Rs.2,25,000/- made to one Anees for buying the vehicle he was driving at the time of the incident," the court had noted.
The court had further added: "The learned A.G.A. argued that the money which he paid was earned by him out of terrorist funding as the economic condition of the appellant was not sound enough to pay for the same. (sic)"
After being granted bail in the PMLA case, Alam’s lawyers are finalising the formalities and documents, after which he is expected to be out soon.