NEW DELHI – Muslim defendants detained in alleged terrorism trials in Mumbai jail have been denied the right to get homemade food this Ramadan after a judge refused them the right to get meals at the time of Suhoor, pre-dawn meal, and Iftar.
“Every year they allow homemade food and other things like dates and fruits to be served to these accused by their family members,” Gulzar Azmi, General Secretary of Jamiat Umena-e-Hind in Maharashtra, told OnIslam.net.
“We were expecting the same this year also but they have been refused,” he added.
The shocking court order was issued last June by Judge L R Pansare to deny 19 Muslim prisoners the right to get homemade food during the holy fasting month of Ramadan.
The request was made to offer Muslims, who are facing trial in Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act (MCOCA) court, meals in times close to Suhoor and iftars as the prison offers meals in set timings that never change.
MCOCA is law enacted by Maharashtra state in India to combat organized crime and terrorism.
These persons, allegedly belonging to a terrorist group Indian Mujahedin (IM), were accused of sending threatening e-mails before blasts in Delhi and Gujarat in 2008.
Though they were allowed homemade foods in earlier Ramadans; however this time a new judge has decided not to allow them outside food for the holy month.
Forty-five defendants in two other cases, one of 2006 Aurangabad arms haul case and another of Mumbai bomb blast case, were allowed homemade food by their respective judges.
Rejecting the discriminatory ruling, Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind decided to take the case of 19 accused to the High Court for being denied homemade food. The decision was backtracked later.
“We held a discussion and came to the conclusion that under Jail Manual, there is no such provision for getting homemade food. And in two cases, judges have allowed them,” Gulzar Azmi said.
“If we approach the High Court and if they decide against us, then all the accused would be denied homemade food. Now they are in the same jail and can share their food with each other.
“We have also requested the Minorities Commission (Minorities Commission of India deals with issues affecting the non-Hindu religious minorities, including Muslims) to approach the government so that the remaining accused could also get homemade food,” he added.
Relatives of those denied homemade food were not happy with the decision after their family members were denied the right for good food during the fasting month of Ramadan.
“We know that they have been falsely implicated in the case and are behind bars for a crime they didn’t commit. They should have been allowed to discharge their religious obligation,” said a relative of an accused who didn’t want to be named.
“We know that the Allah is with them and they will come out clean. But still we feel that during the month of Ramdan when we have to abstain from food and drink from dawn to dusk, the honorable judge should have considered their case sympathetically,” he added.
Parents of another accused prayed to Allah that this Ramadan would be the last for their son in prison.
“We hope that this Ramadan would be the last one for them in jail. We have full faith in God and the justice system of India,” they told OnIslam.net.
Indian security agencies have often been accused of falsely implicating Muslims in terror cases.
A majority of Muslims feel that they never support terrorism of any kind in the country.
But at the same time they want to ensure that innocent Muslims are not targeted just because they belong to any particular religion or community.
Ramadan, the holiest month in Islamic calendar, started in India on Monday, June 30.
In Ramadan, adult Muslims abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.
The sick and those traveling are exempt from fasting especially if it poses health risks.
Muslims dedicate their time during the holy month to be closer to Allah through prayers, self-restraint and good deeds.
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