Signs Of The Times – Of Modi, Shubhradeep and Alzheimer’s Disorder

By Humra Quraishi

More of those dark realities stumbling out from Modi administered  Gujarat .Those encounters and mass murders and  detentions …the sheer brutality hits . And one is left wondering the impact of this , on generations to come .For riots and communal violence not just kill forms but dent psyches .Affecting hundreds and thousands .

Some amongst us are not sitting as mere spectators. Perhaps, they have been seeing and sensing these build ups for far too long and  have begun to question and query. And highlight . One such person is the New Delhi based documentary  film maker Shubhradeep Chakravorty .

His latest documentary , aptly titled  – After The Storm – focuses on the stories of seven former terror accused set free by various law courts across India. – Mukhtar Ahmed, Md. Fassiuddin Ahmed, Umar Farooque, Moutasim Billah, Harith Ansari, Md. Musarrat Hussain ‘Bobby’ and Shaik Abdul Kaleem . Together with these details – “.Forty-nine years old Mukhtar Ahmed from Bangalore was in retail business of readymade garments when he was picked by Central Bureau of Investigation on 3 September 1993 under Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act and then framed in the Chennai RSS regional headquarters blast case. He was acquitted ,the final judgement came from Supreme Court on 6 December 2010. In all he spent 6 years in jail and remained in Chennai on conditional bail for 8 years; away from his family and business.. Md. Fassiuddin Ahmed from Hyderabad was doing his graduation when he was picked on 1 September, 2007 by Hyderabad police as a suspect in the blast at Gokul chat and Lumbini Park. Ironically his cousin died in one of the blasts. He was shown arrested on 5 September, 2007. He spent 6 months in jail and finally secured his acquittal in February 2008. Twenty-eight years old Umar Farooque was picked by Ahemdabad police on 11 May, 2oo6 in the conspiracy case to kill the Right Wing Hindutva leaders. He was shown arrested on 9 June, 2006 along with 5 others and  after spending four and half years in jail he finally secured the acquittal on 29 July, 2010. On 5 March, 2008 engineering student Moutasim Billah was sitting in front of his house in old Hyderabad when he was picked by the police and then along with 20 others he was framed in Hyderabad conspiracy case. He spent 6 month in jail and then got the acquittal on 31 December 2008.. Harith Ansari , son of Dr. Shakeel Ahmed; a prominent Ahmedabad based social activist and politician , was in the profession of medical transcription .He was picked on 7 Dec, 2003 from his home and his arrest was shown 11 Dec, 2003. Harith along with 5 others were framed in conspiracy to conduct bomb blast in prominent buildings of Ahmedabad. After remaining 6 years in jail he finally got acquitted on 12 Dec, 2009. Thirty-five years old Md. Musarrat Hussain ‘Bobby’ was working in a printing press when he was picked on 5 March 2002. His arrested was shown on 7 March 2002. He was charged as a conspirator in the firing and killing of policemen at American Centre, Kolkata. He spent 8 years in jail and remained on death row for 5 years. Finally Kolkata High Court acquitted him on 7 Feb 2010. Shaik Abdul Kaleem is the person who was credited to influence Swami Aseemanand by his behaviour and prompted him to confess the Hindu terror plots. He was a paramedical student when he was first time picked by the police on 1 June 2007. His arrest was shown on 7 June 2007. He was framed in Macca Masjid blast case and fake SIM cards case. After spending one and half years in jail he secured acquittal on 20 Sep 2008(SIM cards case) and 22 Jan 2009(RDX case).”

And when I  ask Shubhradeep the crucial why – why did he decide to make this particular documentary and also his other documentaries, he ‘d detailed – “This could be because I’d witnessed  the demolition of the Babri Masjid .In fact, those years  I was residing with my family in Faizabad  .Though I was young but could see and sense the hand- in- glove role played by the police with the Right Wing brigades present there .All these years what I have been seeing is not just communalism but  fascism which is destroying the very fabric of our land , our lives … Through my documentaries I want to project what’s been going on  at the  ground – My earlier made documentary film ‘Encountered on Saffron Agenda?’ is based on investigative documentation of encounters of Sameer Khan Pathan (22 October, 2002), Sadik Jamal (13 January, 2003), Ishrat Jahan-Javed Seikh (16 June, 2004) and Shorabuddin Seikh (26 November, 2005), that took place in Gujarat.And in another documentary film ‘Out of Court Settlement.’ I have focused on the intimidation of several defense lawyers across the country who were appearing in terror related cases. And in this latest one – ‘After the Storm’ I have focused on former terror accused who secured acquittal through various law courts in past few years and are now  somehow surviving against all possible odds.”

And as Shubhradeep details their backgrounds together with that the aftermath of those arrested years ,its sheer tragedy that lies spread out -” These men and their families have really suffered with the stigma of terror charges on their heads and with that not just  ruined on the emotional and financial fronts but also socially . On a couple of occasions I  broke down whilst hearing the trauma they are still  facing …”As he  details, “Md Fassiuddin Ahmed finished his graduation somehow but mental trauma and fear still continues to haunt him .Umer Farooque’s life seems ruined today ;as he is unemployed and his family is debt ridden. And Harith Ansari also sits unemployed. And though Moutasim Billal spent relatively shorter time in the jail but his education got ruined and he is yet to finish his engineering and  his sisters are not getting married because of that stigma . And Mussarat Husain Bobby’s family is financially  in a bad shape and he, along with his two daughters and wife ,live in the house of his father-in-law. And Shaik Abdul Kaleem is studying law…Only Mukhtar Ahmed managed to somehow go re-establishing his business in Bangalore , though on a  much smaller scale.”

And as one views this documentary , this vital query  hovers – If Dr. Haneef could get compensation together with an apology from the  Australian government so why not these young men
get compensation cum apology from our government ?

Shubhradeep says , “ Yes…They ought to be compensated and an unconditional public apology should be made by the authorities /establishment … these young men  are still sitting too petrified and affected to go about  asking for compensation and sadly no one’s coming forward to help  them with their higher studies or even to give them some sort of assistance so that their families can survive and make two ends meet .”


Finally, focus on the Alzheimer’s Disorder ( AD ) .Last Sunday saw this excellent play , focusing on this  disorder .Pierrot’s Troupe presented their much acclaimed play – 14/15 August 1947 , where  an Alzheimer’s struck ninety year old portrays the memory loss chaos and those offshoots .A satire , it hit . Excellent performance by the Mumbai  based  theatre artist  Saleem Shah who stood out and held the audience captive for those  two hours he was on stage , through his expressions and the dialogues he  delivered .


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