Human rights activist and lawyer Mohammed Shoaib, who was interrogated by the Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terrorism Squad on May 7, denied any link with banned Islamic outfit Popular Front of India, The Hindu reported on Friday.
Shoaib, the founder of an organisation named the Rihai Manch, was picked up from his home in Lucknow on the morning of May 7.
He said that police officials initially told him that he would be taken to the city’s Aminabad police station but he was taken to the headquarters of the Anti-Terrorism Squad instead, according to Maktoob Media. Shoaib said he was released around 10 pm on that day.
The lawyer-activist said that officials from the Anti-Terrorism Squad asked him about any association with the Popular Front of India, which he denied. He said he had never attended any meetings of the organisation.
“In 2011, the PFI had a public meeting which I addressed in Lucknow,” Shoaib said. “That’s all. Nothing else.”
He said that officials of the Anti-Terrorism Squad themselves dropped him back home after the interrogation. “They, however, took a written note from my wife that they had not caused any harm to me,” he added, according to The Hindu.
Shoaib said that he was also asked repeatedly about his religion. “ I reiterated that I am a Muslim,” he said. “They further wanted to know about my sect, etc. I am only a Muslim, at best, I can be called a Sunni Muslim, I said.”
In December 2019, the lawyer was arrested in connection with protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. He was granted bail on January 15, 2020.
In September, the Centre banned the Popular Front of India and its associates for five years under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for allegedly having links with terror groups. The government notification on the ban alleged that the Muslim organisation along with its eight affiliates have been involved in “violent terrorist activities” and intended to create a reign of terror in the country, endangering security and public order.