SRINAGAR: On this International Women’s day when Kashmir media was preoccupied reporting of the formation of Apni Party, suddenly news cropped up from New Delhi that a Kashmiri couple was arrested for the alleged ISIS links.
The couple identified as Jahanzaib Sami Wani and his wife Hina Bashir Beg both in the mid 30s were arrested by the sleuths of special cell of Delhi police from their rented accommodation in Okhla Vihar in southeast Delhi. The couple, according to PTI was arrested on charges of links with Khorasan module of the IS and for allegedly fuelling anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) protests.
On Sunday, DCP, special cell, Delhi Police, Pramod Kumar Kushwah said: “the two were members of the banned terrorist outfit and were propagating its ideology of hatred against non-Muslims and thereby also inciting Muslims to kill non-Muslims.” Delhi police officers also said that the couple had created several anonymous accounts on social media platforms such as Telegram, Facebook, Threema, Surespot, Instagram and Twitter to propagate the ideology of the Islamic State. They were also circulating material against the Indian government over the new CAA.
The couple has been booked for “sedition and promoting enmity between different communities under Sections 124A and 153A of the Indian Penal Code, and under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA),” police officials have said. Next day their custody was taken by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) till March 17.
Meanwhile, in Srinagar’s posh locality Shivpora, which is just adjacent to the Kashmir’s main garrison that houses the Chinar Corps, Wani family is restless. As soon as, the news broke to the family by Jahanzaib’s friend in Delhi, his father Sami Wani, who is presently working as a president for his area that falls under Cantonment board, left for Delhi same day. He is a businessman working with feeds. While as his mother, a retired school teacher and his younger sister, a law student, are waiting for any good news from Delhi, they say they are sure the couple is not involved in any terror activities.
Jahanzaib has a BTech from Punjab University and MBA from Bangalore, and was presently working as a project manager with the UK based IT company in Srinagar, the family claims. “The company asked him to shift to Delhi after the internet shutdown in J&K following the revocation of the erstwhile state’s special status on August 5 last year,” his sister Sehrish Sami was quoted saying by various newspapers.
He had married Hina Bashir Beigh, an MBA in finance and marketing, in October 2019, in Srinagar and the couple started living on rent in south Delhi.
Sehrish says her brother was asked by his company to shift Delhi temporarily as the internet blockade entered its second month. “He left [Srinagar] on September 2 and returned on September 29,” she was quoted saying by The Scroll. “At that time, he was living in accommodation provided by his company. The company accommodation was also in Okhla.”
“After getting married, Wani left for Delhi again on October 21. This time, he rented his own flat.” Sehrish also told The Scroll, “I stayed with them for three months, I returned from Delhi on January 18. My stay in Delhi had coincided with the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act at Shaheen Bagh, close to Jamia Nagar, that Wani and Beg are accused of inciting. My brother constantly advised me to stay away from these protests. He didn’t even allow me to go out to the verandah.”
“My brother has no links with any organization. You can check his profile with the Jammu and Kashmir Police,” Sehrish says. She has alleged that the Delhi Police detained her brother and his wife and linked them to ISIS because they were Muslims and Kashmiris. She said her brother and sister-in-law were being made ‘scapegoat’.
According to Sehrish, one of her cousins, living in Delhi, had tried to reach out to the police later in the day. “They didn’t allow him to meet my brother. He could see him [Wani] from a distance, he didn’t see my sister-in-law. They didn’t show him any FIR or document,” she was quoted saying by the Hindustan Times.
Sehrish has also questioned the Delhi police’s claim that they had found incriminating “literature” in the couple’s possession. “My brother and sister-in-law are very religious. They are observant Muslims. They read religious books and the Quran. How is that incriminating material? Is reading religious literature a crime?,” she said to The Scroll.
According to the Special Cell, the couple has been allegedly promoting the Islamic State’s ideology and were inciting Muslims to take up the violent struggle against the state. The Special Cell had also claimed that the couple was also involved in instigating protests against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
Cell Phones Seized
The Delhi police say that they have seized four mobile phones, one laptop, one external hard disc and claimed recovery of incriminating material from their house, which were password protected. “We have sent the items to the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) to unlock it and retrieve data, which we suspect were deleted by the couple before their arrest,” a senior special cell officer was quoted saying by New Delhi based Hindustan Times.
CERT-In is the nodal agency within the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to deal with cybersecurity threats like hacking and phishing.
According to the officer, the incriminating data from the electronic gadgets may help them identify the persons who were in touch with the couple.
Not Wanted Back Home
Meanwhile, back home there is no record of crime against Jahanzaib in the local police station Ram Munshi Bagh. “There is no previous record found against Jahanzaib,” said a police official from the concerned police station while wishing anonymity. “So far we have not received any formal communication from New Delhi to check his previous records,” added another officer.
One of his friends told Kashmir Life that Jahanzaib was multi-talented in the whole area. “He qualified KAS prelims exams in 2014 but unfortunately couldn’t qualify mains. He was also selected as a sub-inspector in the telecommunications department of police but he did not join the job as his father always wanted him to settle outside Kashmir. He has played many nationals in cricket as well,” said his friend, wishing anonymity.