Goa police victimised me because of my interest in Islam, says terror suspect

Panaji, Feb 18 (IANS) Terror suspect Sameer Sardana on Thursday accused Goa police and central security agencies of torturing and taunting him because of his interest in Islam.

Sardana, who was arrested on February 2 by the anti-terror squad (ATS) of the Goa police, said he stored information about bomb blasts on his laptop because he fancied himself as a “spoof artist” and not because he is a terrorist.

He said the police tried to frame him in a terror case, but Goa’s Director General of Police T.N. Mohan insisted that there is incriminating evidence against the Dehradun-based chartered accountant, who was released on bail last week.

Sardana, son of a retired major general, left for Dehradun on Thursday, after spending more than a week in police custody, where he was quizzed by officials of the state police, National Investigation Agency and other security agencies.

“There was physical torture, racial taunts. They asked me: Why do you want to become a Muslim. What do you see in Islam. They used abusive language,” Sardana told reporters here.

He said he was grateful to the judiciary and believed that he had been framed, wrongly picked up and racially profiled.

“They said I have converted to Islam… No. I am a student of Islam, its meta-physics and such things.”

Sardana, who has formerly worked as a consultant for multinational corporations, was arrested under Section 41 of the Criminal Procedure Code by the ATS on February 2 from a dormitory at the Vasco railway station, 35 km from here, after railway police reported him for suspicious movement.

The police seized five passports, including expired ones and several SIM cards from him. A scan of his laptop by cyber experts revealed data about previous bomb blasts in Goa, the police had said.

But Sardana insists that he is a “spoof artist”, with a satirical take on local and global events on his laptop.

“What I basically try to do is spoof and mock (at) events all over the world and India,” he said, suggesting that his laptop had references to Pakistani intrusions into India, bomb blasts, border incursions, etc.

“I try to mock it. You have to be sophisticated to understand it. You cannot dub it as anti-national, anti-india or mocking the national flag… These people are spending time reading my junk mail. I hope Jesus and Allah give them sense and mind, so that they can do something productive,” Sardana said.

He accused the police of selectively leaking the contents of his emails and trying to turn public opinion against him, during his period in police custody.

“Last week, some of my emails about an ex-chief minister who is now in the (Union) cabinet were leaked. Who is leaking these mails? My email is in their control. So someone is leaking emails to turn public opinion against me,” he said.

However, DGP Mohan contradicted Sardana, saying there is incriminating evidence against him and that despite bail he is still not above suspicion.

“He was found in suspicious circumstances at the Vasco Railway Station. What was he doing there? We found incriminating documents. I cannot say he is beyond suspicion,” Mohan told reporters.

The police had been unable to track down Sardana’s movements outside India before 2014, something that other agencies were looking into, Mohan said.

The DGP said Sardana had tried to hide basic information about himself right from the time of his arrest.

“Why did he try to hide his name and identity from the beginning?” Mohan said.

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