Sajid Khan has been deliberately keeping his telephone conversations crisp and uncontroversial. He discourages any reference to the Batla House encounter on September 19 and prefers to nip all remotely related discussions in the bud. And he’s not the only one doing this.
Several students of Jamia Millia Islamia University allege that the police have been invading their privacy by tapping mobile phones. Long telephone conversations, as a result, are now being avoided. Those who knew the arrested students — Mohammad Shakeel and Zia-ur-Rahman — claim that they are being targeted.
The police denied this. “The police are not doing this. Moreover, there’s a rigid procedure to be followed in case we do want to tap phones. It requires permission from the government and the court and I can assure the students that Delhi Police will not indulge in anything unlawful,” said Rajan Bhagat, spokesperson, Delhi Police.
Students, however, are confident of it happening and they, apparently, have reasons to believe so.
“Most of the time when I am on the phone, I hear a beep every 20 to 30 seconds and my voice echoes. This has been happening often since the arrests were made. A friend of mine, who has worked with MTNL, told me that this is symptomatic of a call being tapped,” said Khan.
While they have nothing to hide from the police, students choose to steer clear of discussing Shakeel or Zia or what happened at Batla House on the phone for fear of inviting trouble.
“There are so many youngsters who have been randomly picked up from Jamia Nagar for interrogation. We don’t want to discuss such things and invite suspicion,” said Zubaid Ansari, another student of the university.
Ask them if they would bring this to their vice-chancellor’s notice and the answer is negative. “How do I or rather we prove that we are being spied on? So, we are just going to continue with our routine of keeping telephonic conversations short and stiff,” said Karim Habibi.
(Names of students have been changed on request)