‘Used to police action’: Muslim man picked up after Kerala blast was acquitted of sedition 17 years ago

Nizamuddin says police continue to shadow him despite his arrest and acquittal in a sedition case in 2006.

WrittenBy:Haritha John
A picture of Nizamuddin Panayikulam.

“After the noon prayers, I was resting at home, when they rang the bell. There were many policemen outside waiting for me,” recounts Nizamuddin Panayikulam. He didn’t ask them why they were at his doorstep. He had seen the media reports of the bomb blasts at a convention centre at Kalamassery in Kerala’s Ernakulam district.  

“I am used to it. I went in my own vehicle to the Aluva station,” he said. 

Nizamuddin was arrested in a sedition case in 2006. Later, he was acquitted by both the Kerala High Court and the Supreme Court. Despite the acquittal, Nizamuddin continues to be shadowed by the police. 

On October 29, the Aluva police picked him up after the bomb blasts at Zamra Convention Centre that killed three people. 

Abdul Sathar, a convict in the Vagamon SIMI Camp case, was also called to the police station on the same day for verification. The two were kept there for hours and released only after Dominic Martin claimed responsibility for planning and executing the blasts. 

Nizamuddin took a dig at the police in a Facebook post, stating, “It seems like there are only two terrorists in Aluva. In any case, we were saved by Martin, who killed Jehovah’s Witnesses who don't sing the national anthem. He surrendered and we were spared.”

Speaking to The News Minute, Nizamuddin said such kind of surveillance from national agencies as well as the local police is routine despite his acquittal in the 2006 case. And it isn’t just Nizamuddin who has been bearing its brunt, but also his family. 

“Do you know how many rented houses my family and I have changed in the last four years. My children have to keep changing their schools. When I see some case of bomb blast, arson attack or whatever anti-national activities in the news, I am sure that soon they will be at my doorstep,” he said.  

Nizamuddin further said, “They always come in many vehicles, in large groups, raid the place, make such a big fuss that my house owners and neighbours will think I am an accused. We will be forced to relocate after every such incident. I don’t think I will ever escape from this even though the Supreme Court found me not guilty.” 

In 2006, Nizamuddin was booked for sedition after he helped organise a meeting in Aluva about the role of Muslims in Indian Independence. Nizamuddin had been a member of SIMI, which was banned in 2001. 

The NIA, which took over the case from the Kerala police, alleged that in the meeting one of the accused made a speech accusing the Indian Army of killing Kashmiri Muslims involved in “jihad”. 

The agency also said that one of the accused went on to claim that Muslims are being tortured under laws such as the NSA and TADA, and they have to fight under the leadership of the SIMI and that no one can destroy the outfit.  

Nizamuddin, who was accused number 4, was not accused of making any of these speeches, but of organising the event. 

Nevertheless, an NIA court first sentenced him to 12 years in jail. He spent three-and-a-half years in jail without even a single day of parole. In 2019, he was acquitted by the High Court which found no evidence that the speech was delivered. 

The court also went on to say that even if such speeches were made, they don’t constitute the offence of sedition. In September this year, the Supreme Court upheld his acquittal.   

Nizamuddin recalled that he was picked up even in 2022 after the Coimbatore car blast. “When the recent Coimbatore blast happened a large NIA team reached my house, raided, took mobile phones…Whenever there is some issue, I will be picked up. They don’t give an explanation or ask any questions. They just take us, make us sit in their office the whole day and then let us off,” he said. 

This report was republished from The News Minute as part of The News Minute-Newslaundry alliance. It has been lightly edited for style and clarity. Read about our partnership here and become a TNM Member here.

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