Son of Muslim leader who has been on trial for 2 decades takes up the fight

Abdul Nasir Mauday and his son Salahudeen Ayyoobi

Salahudeen Ayyoobi was 10 months old when his father and leader of the People’s Democratic Party, Abdul Nasir Maudany, was arrested in 1998 and taken to Coimbatore Central Prison. Unlike other children, Salahudeen grew up visiting his father in prison.

Salahudeen rarely spent time with his father during his childhood. His limited memory was of those regular visits to prison amidst tight security and glimpses of his beloved father standing behind the bars in the visiting room, gazing graciously at his skullcap and magnificent beard.

The oratory skills, analytical and intelligent skills, empathy and caring nature of his father that Salahudeen learned from admirers across Kerala was a forbidden treasure for him to enjoy. Every day of his life he witnessed the injustice unleashed by the Indian justice system and coped with the vacuum created by his father’s absence.

“Father’s absence left a void in my life that nothing can fill. There’s no way to cover it up. I long for his presence during Eid days and to guide me through my academics,” Salahudeen said while sitting in the guest area of ​​his two-story home in Kaloor, Ernakulam district.

However, at least two decades later, an example of poetic justice can be seen in the enrollment of Salahudeen in the Kerala High Court. He graduated in Law from Bharat Mata College in January 2023 and has now enrolled on March 19, 2023.

According to Salahudeen, the level of injustice his father and family faced throughout his life and the protracted legal battle in Indian courts are the main driving forces behind his decision to study law and his father inspired him to study law.

Salahudheen’s father, Abdul Nasir Maudany, an assertive Muslim politician who founded the Islamic Sevak Sangh and the People’s Democratic Party, was arrested in connection with the March 31, 1998 Coimbatore bomb blast. After serving approximately nine years in prison, he was acquitted of all charges in August 2007.

However, he was arrested in August 2010 and taken to Bangalore Central Prison in Parappana Agrahara in connection with the case of the 2008 Bangalore explosion. In July 2014, Maudany was released on medical parole by the High Court on condition that he would not leave Bangalore and that the government was free to take all steps, including surveillance, to ensure he was not exposed to witnesses in the event of.

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Similarly, in December 2009, his wife Sufiya Madani was arrested at her home in connection with the September 2005 bus fire in Tamil Nadu in Kerala’s Kalamassery. She was acquitted on bail by the NIA court in 2009, on condition that she would not leave Ernakulam district with permission. The court later relaxed her bail in July 2014 after she appealed to the court for permission to visit her husband in Bangalore, who was struggling with many health conditions including diabetes and urinary problems.

Maudany lost his right leg in August 1992 after a bomb attack by an RSS squad near Anwarssery in Kerala’s Kollam district. In April 2021, the Muslim leader applied to the Supreme Court for permission to leave Bangalore for his hometown of Kerala, citing health problems. However, the then Chief Justice of the Apex Court refused him permission, calling Maudany a “dangerous man”.

Salahudeen spent most of his childhood thinking that it’s normal for an adult to end up in prison, and like him, most children’s fathers are in prison.

Salahudin Ayyoobi. Photo: Thoufeeq K

“I thought they were only allowed to meet during festivals or other special occasions,” he said.

Although Abdul Nasir Maudany cannot attend his son’s school enrollment due to security and bureaucratic reasons, he is so satisfied and happy with his son’s performance.

An elixir of happiness amidst the dark days and nights of grave injustice,” his father shared on Facebook of Salahudeen’s achievement.

“I want to meet him in person and I need to see that excitement in his eyes,” Salahudeen said with pride in his eyes.

Maudany is currently struggling with many illnesses and has been told by his doctors to rest. They also advised him not to talk on the phone for a long time.

“I missed the presence of my parents in almost every important phase of my life. The ongoing history of injustice is the sole reason for those missing,” Salahudeen said.

Salahudeen decided to go to law school while he was studying in the ninth grade.

“The need of the hour for the marginalized community, including Dalits, Muslims and Adivasis, is to study law, represent them in court and fight for justice. They must be part of the judiciary and legal institutions,” he added, emphasizing the importance of representation in the legal field.

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In his opinion, a judge from a marginalized community or with a lived experience of injustice might be able to ensure fair judgments. “They will be able to understand and empathize with the pain, injustice and problems faced by the common man and their impact on their daily lives. Instead of just seeing it as a job,” he said.

However, due to his father’s long imprisonment under draconian laws, Salahudeen missed out on the privilege of a smooth schooling. He spent the lion’s share of his academic life, almost 13 years, in boarding school as his family does not want his studies to be affected by the case. There were days when Salahudeen cried all night in the inn’s beds because his family had been wronged.

“We have experience of managing an educational institution that has concerns about continuing my studies due to case-related issues. We respected their concerns, dropped out of the course and enrolled in other institutes,” he said.

“Although we faced many difficulties in life, there were many people who supported us, considered us their family members and showered us with love and care. That love and affection has healed us and enabled us to survive,” he said while showing a black Mont Blanc pen given to famed writer Kamala Surayya by son Nalappad when he was a child, and wished him successful academics. “I plan to carry this pen with me on my enrollment day,” he said.

Although many college colleagues sympathized with Salahudeen’s cause and offered solidarity, some felt his family was descended from terrorists. “When they started interacting closely with me, hanging out with me, understanding my ideals and principles, they started thinking about the manipulated representation of my family and became so close over the next 5 years,” he said.

Salahudeen points to the media trial as the main reason for the vilification of his family. “These innocent people, portrayed by the media as criminals and terrorists, must bear the scar of the charge even after they have been acquitted. There are many lives in the country that have been destroyed by the media. Our family is also part of this life. For the general public, their reference materials are those distorted facts and fabricated lies propagated by the media. The sound conscience was formulated from these prejudices,” he said.

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During our hour-long conversation, he emphasized that the prolonged detention of pre-trial detainees is a grave injustice not only to them but also to their loved ones, including children, parents, spouses and comrades.

“This crisis must be seriously addressed by civil society. Such prolonged incarceration could halt the creative intervention of these individuals aimed at societal change and hamper the progress and well-being of society as a whole,” he said.

The system ensures prolonged detention mainly by delaying the filing of the indictment and presenting fabricated evidence and witnesses in court. Salahudeen claimed that many witnesses presented by investigating authorities in his father’s case later confessed in court that they were forced by investigating authorities to give false testimony and some of them were not even interrogated, but theirs were Testimonies were included.

“Under the current circumstances, it is easy for an investigating officer or agency to persuade or compel a person to give false testimony in court. There must be an accountable system in place to effectively oversee the investigative process and ensure transparency,” he said.

Although many people showed solidarity and sympathy for political prisoners, most of them could not stay with the cause in the long term. In most cases, the prisoners’ families and loved ones had to fight alone, he said, questioning Kerala society’s silence on his father’s arrest.

“Whether the public or those responsible, most of them have remained silent about the injustice my father was subjected to. My father has struggled with various issues, including legal and health issues. He fights for his existence every day. But the authorities and lawyers concerned have been relatively silent,” he added.

As the elder son of a man who advocated unity of the oppressed in Kerala at least three decades ago, Salahudeen is aware of the hopes and aspirations of many in him. “There are many unfinished missions and social justice movements started by my vaapachi (father). I plan my future so that I can be a part of it and play my part in it,” he said.