West Bengal minister Siddiqullah Chowdhury on Tuesday (October 20) demanded the immediate release of 10 suspected al-Qaeda operatives arrested by the National Investigation Agency last month. 

Out of the 10 suspected al-Qaeda operatives, seven were held from Murshidabad while three were arrested in Kerala’s Ernakulam district.

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Siddiqullah Chowdhury, who is the minister of mass education extension and library services, said, “We already talked with many people and after that I am demanding that immediately all who were arrested by NIA should be released unconditionally.”

“What the NIA did seemed like war. In the early hours, 12-13 armed convoys entered the village and arrested innocent people. State police did not know anything. The people of the house are not being informed about the whereabouts of the detainees. NIA is not saying anything about the crime of those arrested youths,” he added.

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The minister, who joined the Trinamool Congress before the 2016 Assembly polls, accused the NIA and the Narendra Modi government of defaming the Muslim community by linking the arrested men to terrorism.

Siddiqullah said that the areas in Murshidabad from where some of the accused were arrested, the Border Security Force (BSF) regularly detains and questions innocent villagers. 

The minister alleged, “The NIA is basically harassing the innocent villagers. They are also harassing old people.”