Framed Terrorist

Although for me the idea of going to Pakistan was an exciting one it was not at all something out of the ordinary for the people in our neighborhood. It was a bright day in November when I set off to get my Passport and Visa from the Pakistan High Commission. I was accosted by a man who introduced himself as Gupta from the Intelligence Department. Guptaji asked me to walk with him to a kiosk near Teen Murti Nehru Planetarium. A few days later, Guptaji came to my house. This time he was accompanied by another man who was taller and addressed Guptaji as ‘Sir’. I was to take photographs of the Naval Headquarters at Shah Faisal Road in Karachi. I guess I was very naïve and had no idea what I had let myself into. [Note: Aamir never found out the real name of Guptaji. Intelligence Agencies are outside the ambit of The Right to Information Act, 2005.]

Of course, the highlight of my trip to Karachi was when I first set my eyes on the sea. One day I made some excuse and took the camera and went on my own to Shah Faisal Stadium and walked towards the Naval Headquarters. I realized I did not have the stuff of which spies are made. I had been given another task, which seemed a little easier. I was to meet a man by the name of Choudhury at Sabir Hotel. Mr. Choudhury easily recognized me and quickly gave me a small leather bag.

The day after I arrived back home from Karachi, I messaged Guptaji. I returned the camera and told him why I could not do the work and accomplish the mission he had assigned to me. I told him there was just too much security. He accused me of being a Pakistani agent.

I lost all sense of time. The torture continued on an on. I signed and signed and signed. Then suddenly one day they gave me a bath and a barber was called to give me a shave and cut my hair. I did not know where we were going. It was not only in the Courts that I was being pronounced guilty. Slowly I began to realize how serious the cases were against me. According to the Police I got radicalized while I was in Karachi.

On 12 January, 2012 I stepped out of Rohtak Jail a free man, after 13 years and 10 months.

Mohammad Aamir Khan with Nandita Haksar, Framed as a Terrorist, (Speaking Tiger, 2016).