A 28-year-old Muslim youth vanished all of his gulf dreams due to inappropriate terror hunt at a Kerala airport. Sayed Kabeer Koyambathudi, an auto rickshaw driver from Malabar region of Waynad was off-loaded from the Kuwait Airways aircraft just minutes before take-off from Trivandrum Airport on 30rd Aug 2009. For his bad fate, Kabeer’s first name or last name was closer to someone who is on the ‘alert notice’ by Indian Intelligence Bureau (IB). The victim was detained and continuously quizzed for 13 hours by security regime claiming that he was associated with a terror network. Within this time, media was mobilized by security officials alleging that they got a major terrorist in their custody.
Times of India and Hindustan Times reported the catch as of a prime LeT man, while local Malayalam TV channels endlessly aired dramatic stories of terrorism. They even related the underprivileged migrant’s name with Coimbatore, Kozhikode, Bangalore and Delhi blasts.
The victim went through 13 hours of mental torturing sessions by officials of the IB, State Intelligence, Research and Analysis Wing, Military Intelligence and the Tamil Nadu QBranch. Even though, Sayed Kabeer was cleared of the terrorist label he is still behind the bars on negligible charges. He was handed over to the crime detachment cell of Kerala police saying that his emigration clearance was not adequate. “Kabeer had not gone through official ECNR procedure and there was no translation of his visa” say the authorities. But in fact, these are not unusual tradition among gulf aspirants. The officials used to ignore these steps once they get bribes from the deprived victims.
Kabeer discontinued his studies at upper primary level due to financial constraints at home. Brother of Kabeer, working in Kuwait sent him a driver’s visa. As per existing rules, Kabeeer’s grade 7 education is not enough to get an ECNR (Emigration Clearance Not Required) status from authorities. Even though, a 10th grade education is the criteria, by paying kickback to police through travel agents, gulf job seekers used to get clearance. Embarrassed by the wrong terror allegation, Kerala police registered a case against him under various sections of the Indian Passport Act and forgery and he is still in prison.
Kabeer is known to be an activist of Indian Union Muslim League and there are reportedly no cases registered against him in the police stations in Kerala. His family and friends have strongly denied the allegation that Kabeer had any terrorist links.
Most of the Muslim youths travel to Arabian Gulf countries to find a job due to poverty in Kerala. Majority of Muslims are working in negligible jobs or small shops in the gulf due to educational backwardness. Muslims are the most backward community in Kerala with respect to human resources. More than 40 per cent of the emigrants from the state are Muslims, followed by Hindus 37.7 per cent and Christians 21.2 per cent. According to the Migration and Monitoring Study (MMS) 2008 by Centre for Development Studies, there was an increase in gulf migration of 44 per cent among the Hindus during 2003-08. Among Hindus, the Brahmin community was the most educated (51%) followed by Martoma Syrian Christians (47.5%). Muslims are at the bottom and are at par with Scheduled Castes, only 15 % of them fall in the high education group.
According to 2008 statistics, Gulf remittance to Kerala was Rs 43,300 crore. It is the single most dynamic factor in the improved economic scenario of Kerala. Corresponding to every 100 households in Kerala, there were 29 emigrants, 15 return emigrants and 44 Non Resident Keralites. Foreign remittances to the state have been 7 times of what Kerala received from the Government of India as budget support.
Unfortunately, the Government of India continuously ignored the basic needs of Indians Citizens working in Gulf countries. They are easy prey to corruption of emmigration and customs authorities. On the other hand, the less remitting, foreign citizens of Indian origin enjoyed heartier welcome in India due to their proximity to the west.
Dr. M.S. Jayaprakash, President of Kerala chapter of NCHRO (National Confederation of Human Rights Organizations) demanded an impartial enquiry in to the events. He said the intervention of Indian Intelligence Bureau (IB) is dramatic and questionable as the victim; Mr. Kabeer Koyambathudi was cleared of all the security checkups and immigration procedures before he boarded to the Kuwait bound flight. The government of Andhra Pradesh paid compensation to 21 Muslims found to have been tortured in custody when police wrongly held them in connection with serial bomb blasts in the state capital Hyderabad in 2007. Similarly Kerala Government is accountable to pay compensation to the victim for the mental torture and job loss. Dr. Jayaprakash said.
“This is a case of gross human rights violation which is more faced by many migrant workers. Whoever has put false charges against Kabeer, they should be tried in court as to why they picked up innocent Muslim youths and ruined their career. The incidence is a repetition of what had happened earlier for an innocent boy of Manacaud Trivandrum, the only rationale being he was a Muslim. This type of deliberate harassment and human right violations are orchestrated by a group of media persoals and Hindutva oriented officials working with intelligence services. They use local police to hook fake cases against Muslim youths. The sad fact is that innocent Muslim youths are tortured while influential criminals and mafia gangs are given escorts to get away abroad with the involvement of top brazes. Kerala government should be put an end to such victimization with top most priority and the personnel responsible should be booked and suitably punished,” told Popular Front of India leader, P. Abdul Hameed.