The Mohammed Haneef episode has slipped rapidly from a tragedy to a farce. Arrested in the wake of the failed attack on Glasgow Airport for the cardinal sin of lending his SIM card to his cousin Sabeel Ahmed, whose bother Kafeel Ahmed drove the jeep, the case has become a disgraceful demonstration of how India protects its citizens abroad.
Even as the Indian government and its diplomats have watched, Dr Haneef has become a pawn in Australia’s politics in the name of the “War on Terror”. Given bail after being detained for a fortnight, he has been stripped of his visa, threatened to be deported, labelled a “terrorist”, and has now been condemned to solitary confinement for 23 out of 24 hours a day.
In all the time, the Secular Republic of India has looked on haplessly as a citizen of its soil has been deprived of his civil liberties, robbed of his freedom and human rights, and humiliated by having his “character” questioned. India’s meek response threatens the wellbeing of its citizens in every part of the globe.
Today it is Haneef, tomorrow it could be any one of us.
It is now time to send a strong diplomatic signal that India will not tolerate any further circumcision of its citizens’ rights without clinching evidence being provided that Dr Haneef has a stronger, deeper involvement than has been made public. The Indian high commissioner to Australia should be recalled to show that India is one with Mohammed Haneef.
Also read: I would fail character test: Haneef judge