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Kerala women’s arrest in UP: Lack of clarity in FIR adds to the plot

The case of three Malayalee women, recently arrested for allegedly producing fake RT-PCR test reports while visiting their relatives jailed under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in  Uttar Pradesh, is getting intriguing with conflicting versions emerging.

The police reportedly roughed up the women before the arrest and misled their lawyers. Adding to the twist is a lack of clarity in the FIR and the way police executed the entire sequence of events.

The family’s lawyer Naseer KT claimed the RT-PCR test that the entire group of four women and five children took in Kerala was genuine and done in the same lab. All the results turned negative, he told The Federal.

The lawyer said they had to do the tests again in Lucknow, which are under the scanner now.

However, neither the lawyer nor the FIR stated from where or which specific lab the RTPCR had been taken. When prodded, Naseer KT said it was taken at a “private local lab” without divulging details.

Incidentally, the FIR said: “When their ID and RTPCR Report were examined, the ITPCR report given by the visitors appeared to be forged one prima facie, to verify which when the conversation was made to the concerned lab, it denied to have prepared any such report.” (sic)

The three women are Najima, mother of Anshad Badarudeen (arrested in February 2021 for alleged terror plotting), his wife Mohsina and Kunjalima, the mother of Firoz Khan who was arrested along with Anshad on the same charges. The group consisted of Najima, Mohsina and her son, and Firoz’s mother Kunjalima, his wife Soujath and their four children. Naseer is a family friend of Firoz and was reportedly assisted by a local lawyer in Lucknow during their visit to the jail.

Also read: Copy of chargesheet against Kappan not given even after one year of arrest: Lawyer

Among the three women, two are elderly. Anshad’s mother Najima is 62 while Firoz’s mother Kunjalima is 59. Twenty-nine-year-old Mohsina, the wife of Anshad is jailed along with her seven year old son. Though Soujath is also listed in the FIR as a co-accused, she was set free. Soujath and her children have returned to Kerala. The women have been arrested under various sections of IPC for forgery, impersonation and cheating.

According to their lawyer, the women do not know any language other than Malayalam and the two elderly women among them have been under medication for diabetics and hypertension. The FIR (of which The Federal has a copy) registered in Lucknow South Police Station on th September 27, 2021 states: “Some women, children and men were seen sitting towards the bank of the drain at Havua Bridge near the jail. Women were talking in a strange language, which was not Hindi or English.” The FIR also suspects a conspiracy behind “forging RT-PCR certificate”.

Firoz and Anshad, organisers of the Popular Front of India (PFI) and were arrested on February 12, 2021 en route to Mumbai under the UAPA for allegedly planning a ‘terror strike’.

“They are the organisers of PFI and were en route by train from Bihar to Mumbai on February 11. They were caught by a team of cops in plain clothes when the train reached a border station in Uttar Pradesh. They were hand cuffed and were taken to Lucknow by road. Though they were arrested on the 11th, they were not produced in the court for three days,” he said.

“Their families in Kerala panicked when they stopped receiving phone calls from them and filed a man missing complaint with the Chief Minister on February 15. The next day, they were produced before the court for alleged charges of ‘terror plot’. They had been remanded under various sections of UAPA and Explosive Substance Act along with the charges for sedition. The family members of Anshad and Firoz reached Lucknow on September 23 with expectations to meet them in the court on the 24th. However, they were not produced in the court and thus the family members decided to go the jail to meet them,” Naseer told The Federal.

Naseer said they had completed all procedures and were waiting in jail to meet Anshad and Firoz when a policeman informed them they would “make arrangements to meet them ‘outside the visiting area’”.

“I was scared and told our local lawyer that it would be dangerous to accept that offer. After sometime, we were called to another room and the police started roughing up the women. As they were speaking in Hindi, they (the women) did not get a word. The allegation was that their RT-PCR certificate was not genuine. However, they did not hold us there but let us go. We returned to the hotel and were planning to come back to Kerala at the earliest. After a few hours, a team of cops reached the hotel and took all of us to the police station. We were informed that an FIR was lodged for forgery. The cops told us that they would produce the women in the court the next morning and asked us to come prepared for bail. We returned to the hotel room and in a few minutes, the local lawyer called us and informed that they had been produced in the court and were remanded,” he said.

The bail application of the three women will be heard in the District and Sessions court, Lucknow on October 11. Though The Federal tried to reach out to Soujath, the wife of Firoz, we were told that she is too traumatized to talk.

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