11 Years a ‘Terrorist’: How Cops Faked Testimonies Against Zakaria
The story of Zakaria & Beeyumma – the son, in jail for 11 years, and the mother, fighting a lonely battle.
Video Editor: Mohd Irshad Alam
(This story is being republished from The Quint's archives to mark 11 years of incarceration of Zakaria. It was originally published on 24 April 2019.)
Muhammed Zakaria was just 19 when he was arrested by the Karnataka Police under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act on 5 February 2009. The teenager, a native of Parappanangadi in Kozhikode district of Kerala, was accused of making timers for the blasts in Bengaluru in 2008, in which one person was killed.
However, holes soon appeared in the police’s theory. Haridas, a prosecution witness, tells The Quint:
“I don’t know who Zakaria is. The police made me become a witness. They created the witnesses.”
Haridas had earlier told the media that he was asked to sign a paper in Kannada, a language he did not understand.
“The police asked me about something that happened in some shop. How will I know? I can’t talk about things I don’t know.”Haridas to MediaOne channel in 2013
A second witness, Nizamudheen, had also reportedly retracted his testimony.
“Zakaria cannot make these timers because he has only studied till 10th grade in school. A person with that qualification cannot design microchips. You need at least a BTech for that,” he had told Media One in 2013.
“I haven’t given a statement saying that he made these timers. It is impossible that someone who studied till 10th grade can make timers like that.”Nizamudheen, Witness, to Media One
Abdul Nasar Madani, a cleric and a politician, is the most high-profile accused in the case. Activists believe Zakaria was collateral damage in the Karnataka Police’s ploy to target Madani.
Sameer, the convenor of Free Zakaria Action Forum, narrates an incident.
“On the fourth day after he was arrested, the investigating officer came to Zakaria and told him, ‘We know you are innocent, we will let you go, But you have to give us information on Muslim organisations in Parappanangadi and surrounding areas. We will even set up a shop for you’. Zakaria said no.”
“Madani is their target,” says Sameer. “They are not giving Zakaria bail because then they will have to give it to Madani too.”
“I met the boy in 2011 when I was making a film on Madani called ‘Fabricated’,” says KP Sasi, a well-known filmmaker. “I asked Madani whether we can do anything for him. he said he gets many visitors every week, but there are thousands of innocent people in jails who do not get visitors, forget legal action.”
“Then he brought in this boy, Muhammed Zakaria. Even at that time, he had no idea why he was arrested. He was totally bothered about his poor family, his mother,” Sasi says.
Watch the video above for more.
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