Surprisingly little has been written in the Indian blogosphere about Mohammad Haneef, charged in Australia as having -- recklessly but without intention -- supported terrorism in the UK. As a forum that has written forcefully against Islamic terrorism, it seemed appropriate for this blog to make an observation on this matter.
Haneef is a cousin of a vicious terrorist to whom he gave a SIM card. He was also hurrying to leave Australia in the immediate aftermath of the failed UK attacks.
These facts make it imperative that he be thoroughly investigated. Australia is well within its rights to ensure the safety of its citizens.
If Haneef is found guilty of willing and knowing complicity, we would support the harshest possible punishment for him. Further, even if the investigation leads to little in terms of any real complicity, it would be prudent for Australia to deport him back to India. We would likely do the same if there were a Pakistani cousin of the terrorist Sheikh Omar found in odd circumstances, however explainable, in India.
What India must not accept (and what will undoubtedly damage our nascent strategic relationship with Australia) is Haneef's imprisonment notwithstanding any absence of evidence that proves his willing complicity in the abhorrent UK terror attacks. The Government of India needs to be proactive in making this crystal clear to John Howard.
We must provide all needed support for Australia and the UK to complete a thorough investigation of the horrific affair. We must not, however, silently tolerate innocent Indians being railroaded by overzealous Australian prosecutors and politicians cynically playing to the understandable fears of their people.
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