An Indian journalist working with Gulf News at Dubai, has been threatened that his passport would be impounded and he would be arrested as and when he returned to India. His crime? He had apparently written reports exposing Islamophobic social media posts by Indian expatriates working in UAE and Gulf countries. The reports had led in some cases to police action and some of the Indian expatriates had been sacked.
Mazhar Farooqui, Features Editor looking after Special Reports, claims he was inundated with abusive and threatening messages forwarded to his mail, on WhatsApp, on Facebook Messenger and on Twitter. He also claimed that while some of the accounts have been deactivated and some tweets deleted, several threats were issued from verified accounts and by people followed by the Indian Prime Minister.
The threats were explicit and some of them read:
· You are being closely watched by security agencies here; your future liberty in India is uncertain. U may have to go to jail if you return here.
· Is ki family kahan rahti hai ? Should be picked up. Passport should be cancelled
· You are on our list too. Along with your daughters.
Messages were also sent to authorities and police in Dubai, asking whether they had carried out a thorough background check on Farooqui, who, they said, was a Shia Muslim from Lucknow and was working secretly for Iran.
Asked to comment, Farooqui told NH, “Well, it’s like a pandemic — I have got nearly 5,000 messages via email, FB messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp from hundreds of such people. . That said, many have deactivated their accounts or deleted their posts fearing action.”
“In the midst of all this, BJP’s IT cell has launched a relentless, malicious campaign against me on Twitter. People with verified account and many followed by the PM are abusing me and threatening to revoke my passport and harm me and my daughters. They have even posted their pix on social media…”.
Farooqui had worked for Hindustan Times in Lucknow before moving to Gulf News in Dubai. Recipient of several awards for his investigative reports, Farooqui finds himself in the crosshair of BJP’s IT Cell, possibly because he had exposed several cases of fraud by Indian businessmen. He had also busted a job racket by an India based agency, which allegedly charged a hefty fees for arranging fake job interviews in the Gulf.