KOCHI: Ask Abdul Khader Raheem Kolliyil about the experience of being chased by police after an intelligence alert flashed him as a terror suspect and channels started running breaking news on him. One can see intense fear building up on his face. The events that happened in his life between August 22 and August 27, during which he surrendered and was subsequently released from police custody, still haunt the 39-year-old Kodungalloor native and he knows things could have been far worse if it was not for his timely decision to surrender in court, expressing his willingness to undergo interrogation.
Of course, Khader is now a relieved man as he has managed to convince security agencies about how a few influential people in Bahrain, whom he had antagonised, framed him as a terror suspect in an act of vengeance.
“It was a plot by a few people from Kozhikode and Malappuram running a chain of hotels and bars in Bahrain to brand me as a terrorist. I helped a Malayali woman escape from the clutches of a hotel which was forcing her into flesh trade. The woman, who was also picked by police from Kochi, shared all the information with the agencies. Even the Indian Embassy in Bahrain had all the details about the complaint against the hotel management,” Khader told Express.
“I was interrogated by agencies for about 30 hours and they released me only after I managed to present evidence to prove my innocence,” he said. Khader’s lawyer RO Muhamed Shemeer said he decided to represent him in court even before the details provided by Khader were found to be genuine.
“I knew he was telling the truth and wanted to help an innocent person. We decided to fully cooperate with the police because it was Khader’s requirement to prove his innocence,” Shemeer said.
Khader, who has been working as a mechanic in Bahrain since 2000, said in August 2018 he decided to start an own garage in Ernakulam sensing a business opportunity as thousands of vehicles had been damaged in the floods.
“I have been repairing high-end cars throughout my career. Initially, I got a lot of work but later work dried up. So I decided to return to Bahrain where I had a tie-up with my sponsor to start a new garage. In July 2019, I returned to Bahrian and there, I met the woman who has been my friend for a long time. She told me about her plight and how the hotel where she worked treated her. As I knew a couple of police officers in Bahrain, I took the woman to them and she lodged a complaint with Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) and Nibisala police station in Bahrain. Based on her complaint, the authorities raided the hotel and imposed a fine of 7000 dinars. They also suspended the hotel chain’s licence,” Khader said.
He said the LMRA also informed the Indian Embassy.
“As these developments were taking place, two policemen turned up at the hotel where I was staying and asked me to accompany them. They said a case was pending against me. However, police found no case against me and released me. I found that the hotel chain had tried to put me behind bars using their influence so that I stop helping the woman. Later, to source spare parts for a few cars, I along with the woman travelled to Sharjah. From there we flew down to Kochi on August 22,” he said.
On August 23, Khader received a link of a news report through WhatsApp which said that police were on the lookout for a six-member terrorist gang that sneaked into Tamil Nadu and one of the members was a Keralite. He found that the details mentioned in the report tallied with his and the photo being circulated was one he had taken 18 years back when he registered for a labour card in Bahrain.
“I got really tense after seeing the news. By then the TV channels had also started flashing it. Without knowing what to do, I boarded a bus to Kozhikode. The police, meanwhile, took the woman into custody. She rang me up and said there was no need to run as she had explained everything to the police. A police officer also spoke to me over phone and asked me to return to Kochi so that they can corroborate the details,” he said.
Khader then approached lawyer Muhamed Shemeer. It was on the advice of Shemeer that Khader filed the petition for surrendering before the court.
“I am really grateful to the almighty. I know I was in deep trouble. I have full faith in our policing system because they released me once they found that I am innocent,” he said.