With Islamophobia in India and around the world growing by the day, I’ve started work on a project to break the enduring stereotypes about Muslims and the community.

In today’s world Muslims at large are becoming victims of sweeping generalisations, wrongly perceived as a threat to society and thus framed as terrorists and terrorist sympathisers. This documentation is about men who were falsely charged in terror cases and had to languish in jails for a long period of time, in many cases over a decade and now have been acquitted/discharged by the courts. The project tries to show their life after being stamped as terrorists and how they are rehabilitating their lives now.

Framed and forgotten 0
Noorul Huda was the prime accused in the Malegaon blasts of 2006 but discharged with seven others in April 2016 after spending five years in jail and five years on bail by the MCOCA court.(First published in print in the November 2017 edition of Fountain Ink)
Framed and forgotten 1

Noorul works at a powerloom to earn his daily bread.

Framed and forgotten 2

He shares a meal with his family at his house in Malegaon. On the upper swing bed is his son Muzakir, one. Daughter Mariyam, three, is on his lap having her lunch. 

Framed and forgotten 3

Dr. Farogh Magdumi was among the nine accused in the Malegaon blasts of 2006 and discharged with seven others in April 2016. He is a Unani doctor with a diploma in ophthalmology  and dentistry.

Framed and forgotten 4

Dr. Farogh in his clinic.

Framed and forgotten 5
Practising one of his specialities, dentistry.
Framed and forgotten 6

Abdul Wahiduddin Sheikh was implicated in the Mumbai 7/11 blasts and spent nine years in jail before acquittal in 2015. He is the only one acquitted among the 13 accused. Seven are  facing life in prison and five face the death penalty. Wahid wrote an autobiographical work Begunah Qaidi  (Innocent Prisoner) in Urdu which was recently translated into Hindi and is working to get the book translated into English as well.

Framed and forgotten 7

Abdul waits to board a local train.

Framed and forgotten 8
He teaches science at an Urdu medium school for the underprivileged and earns about ₹13,000 a month. Friends and colleagues helped him get his job back and he is fighting to get compensation for his salary for the time he spent in jail on false charges.
Framed and forgotten 9

Md. Javed Ali was accused of spying for Pakistan’s ISI and spent 11 years and seven months in jail before he was acquitted of all charges on January 18, 2014. The fact is that he fell in love with a distant relative in Pakistan on his first visit and started exchanging letters with her. On returning to Rampur after his second visit to Pakistan he was picked up by Moradabad police and named an ISI spy along with four other friends who used to translate his letters from Urdu to Hindi.

Framed and forgotten 10

Javed at home having lunch.

Framed and forgotten 11

He works as a TV repair mechanic in Rampur and earns ₹200-350 a day.

Framed and forgotten 12

Javed Ali paid a high price for falling in love. Even the originals of the handwritten letters were confiscated in a raid. Javed used to get his letters translated into Hindi from Urdu by his friends (as he couldn’t read Urdu). This translated letter is the only one left with him. It was in his workshop at the time.

Framed and forgotten 13
Taj  Mohammed was also falsely accused along with Javed of spying for  ISI. Taj used to translate Javed’s Urdu love letters into Hindi. He  too spent 11 years and seven months in jail. He is struggling to make a living as a vendor selling biscuits on local trains between Rampur and Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh.
Framed and forgotten 14

Irshad Ali worked as a police informer and was picked up in December 2005, detained illegally for weeks and then accused of a terror conspiracy. Acquitted after 11 years in jail on January 2017, Ali is trying to put his life back on track.

Framed and forgotten 15

Irshad looks back at all that he lost in the decade he was in jail.

Framed and forgotten 16
He spends his free time watching television inside his one-bedroom house in Delhi.
Framed and forgotten 17

Nisaruddin Ahmed was implicated in the Hyderabad train blasts of 1993. He was acquitted after 23 years on April 16, 2016 by the Supreme Court. Nisar lost the prime years of his youth in jail. He runs a small shop selling bakery items with his brother Zaheer who sells locks in the same space.  Nisar got married in February 2017.

Framed and forgotten 18

Zaheer and Nisar at their shop in Gulbarga, Karnataka.

Framed and forgotten 19
Nisar seeing off his niece to school in Gulbarga.