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Rotten apples don’t poison the tree

Remember Sam — aka Samir Shaikh — a reel victim of 9/11 repercussions played by actor John Abraham in the 2009 box office hit New York?

Sam was arrested and detained for nine months as a suspected terrorist, a charge the FBI later agreed was incorrect. Though he was eventually released, the torture changed Sam into a revenge-seeker.

Moral of the story: a few “undesired elements” in a particular community does not make the entire community responsible or repulsive.

When Delhi University professor Apurvanand said this on Wednesday, he reflected the tone of a convention organised in Ranchi to discuss the role of the state, society and citizens in the fight against terrorism and the fight for human rights.

Hosted at Anjuman Islamia Hall on Main Road jointly by the Jharkhand United Milli Forum, Association for Protection of Civil Rights, National Alliance for People’s Movement and Atankvad Virodhi Committee, the deliberations were addressed by lawyers, activists and social workers and attended by many from the minority community.

Referring to the blasts in Patna and its terror trail to Ranchi, Apurvanand said the guilty must be punished, but it would be unfortunate if we brand native villages of the accused as terror hubs or blame the community they belong too.

Akhlaque Ahmad, co-ordinator of the civil rights outfit in Delhi, stressed that innocent people must not be harassed. “There have been instances when the accused have been freed of charges levelled against them. However, by the time they are acquitted, it is too late to lead a normal life,” he said.

Supreme Court lawyer Mahmud Paracha reminded that the Constitution was supreme and everyone was duty-bound to respect its provisions, including those on a person’s fundamental rights.

Atankvad Virodhi Committee spokesperson Ratan Tirdkey said the media should act more responsibly while covering issues related to terrorism. “Unnecessary hype or a malign campaign can scar a person for life,” he said.

Mahendra Yadav of National Alliance for People’s Movement, who came from Patna, delivered the welcome address and outlined the problem of terrorism and its impact on the society.

Among others who spoke at the daylong convention were Afzal Anish, secretary of Jharkhand United Milli Forum; Nadim Khan, co-ordinator of Atankvad Virodhi Committee; Abrar Ahmad, president of Anjuman Islamia, Ranchi; and social worker Shailendra.