Pakistan trip lands Nepali in Indian jail as 26/11 suspect

Thursday, December 2, 2010

KATHMANDU - A Nepali family is hoping it will see justice done to their son, being held in a prison in India’s Bihar state for eight months for suspected involvement in the Mumbai terror attacks.

Mohammad Ghulam Bashir, a small-time trader in Nepal’s Sunsari district along the Indian border, was arrested by Indian police in Bihar’s Katihar district earlier this year.

The 35-year-old’s family says Bashir’s wife is an Indian from Katihar who went to her parents’ place to give birth, as per Indian tradition.

Earlier this year, when Bashir went to visit his wife and in-laws, alerted by the buzz that a “foreigner” had been seen in the village, police arrived at his in-laws’ place and confiscated his passport and mobile telephone for preliminary investigations.

The passport, bearing a visa for Pakistan, landed the young Nepali in trouble. He was arrested on the suspicion of being a terrorist and is now facing a case in the Patna High Court.

Bashir’s parents and elder brother say the allegation is baseless. According to them, Bashir, who studied Islamic religion in India’s Lucknow city, went to Pakistan to do his Master’s in the subject as there were no institutions for higher studies in Nepal.

“We sent him to Pakistan to become a maulana as Islamic education is of a high standard there,” Bashir’s elder brother Gulab told the Naya Patrika daily. “We raised the money with great difficulty. My brother has his education certificate to prove his claim. Yet Indian police branded him as a terrorist without any proof.”

Bashir’s family says they have been running from pillar to post to get him released.

They first approached the chief district officer at Sunsari as well as the leading politicians, but to no avail.

They have also petitioned the foreign and home ministries and the Indian embassy in Kathmandu, the report said.

Bashir is being held in Katihar jail.

The Terai plains, from which he comes, share a unique relationship with India. Many families have wedding ties with Indians across the open border.

However, the abuse of the border and the Nepali passport for terrorist activities targeting India and crimes like smuggling drugs and fake Indian currency have caused Indian police to train the spotlight on visitors with links to Pakistan, where both the terror and counterfeit currency networks lead.

Due to the growing security concerns, Muslims in the Terai especially have a hard time.

“When my brother studied Islam in India he was not regarded as a terrorist,” Gulab says. “Then how come he became a terrorist after he went to Pakistan to study?”

Bashir’s family also says he returned to Nepal from Pakistan almost nine months before the multiple terror attacks in Mumbai in November 2008.

Gunmen, said to have come from Pakistan, attacked multiple targets in Mumbai, including the Taj Hotel, a Jewish community centre and a train station, killing 166 people, many of them foreigners.

(Sudeshna Sarkar can be contacted at

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