COLOMBO: A brilliant Sri Lankan Muslim University of New South Wales student, Mohamed Kamer Nalir Nizamdeen, was arrested in Sydney on August 30 on suspicion that he was plotting to kill former Prime Minister Turnbull and other leaders and also to blow up the Sydney Opera House.

Nizamdeen’s friends and well wishers the world over, are circulating a petition for signatures seeking justice for him on the grounds that the suspicion against him is baseless.

The petition, which got thousands of signatures on the very first day, pointed out that "the only evidence taken into account in Kamer's circumstances was a notebook that was found at his old workstation (not found in his possession) which he had misplaced months ago. In it were notes related to terrorism that are not even in his handwriting.

The petition pointed out that "since then, he has been denied access to a lawyer as well as to his family and this continues to be the unfortunate status quo. Even as a mere suspect of an alleged crime, he has been stripped of his basic rights."

The media, both international and local have been extremely irresponsible in their coverage of this story, the petition pointed out regretfully. “They have labeled him an I.S.I.S. affiliate even though he is not being charged with being a member of a terrorist organization, and where they have not, they have unfairly portrayed personal photos of him edited upon backgrounds of actual I.S.I.S. militants in action so as to influence the minds of the general public for the sake of media hype," the petition alleged.

"Additionally, the media have purposely been vague as to his travel history.For instance, certain newspapers have falsely stated that he traveled to Tunisia which never took place, whilst some newspapers state he traveled to a range of areas whereas he only visited family in the U.S.A. recently.” “It was said that his personal belongings such as his X Box, phones and laptops that were seized for investigative purposes were electronic items,” the petition pointed out.

"He has had no criminal record whatsoever both in Australia and Sri Lanka, and is known by the community for being an affectionate, open-minded, jovial person who enjoys the simple things in life, and values family and friends above all. Kamer is friends with a range of people back in multi-cultural Sri Lanka, and has been an advocate for peace during times of political or religious unrest," it said.

Nizamdeen's uncle Faiszer Musthapha, who is Minister of Sports and Local Government in the Sri Lankan government, told the Australian media that Nizamdeen "is just like any other boy".

"We love him - when anyone has done something wrong they should deal with them - but as a family we believe he's innocent," Musthapha told Hack.

"As a family we believe he hasn't done anything wrong, we're very confident of that but until the judicial system makes a finding we'll have to wait and see. I don't want to pre-judge things... all that we can say is that we have love, affection, and praise for him," the Minister uncle said.

Musthapha said that Nizamdeen had not spoken to any family members since he was arrested, charged and refused bail last week "I think the Australian Government has a process with regards to at what stage [the family] would get access," Musthapha said.

Police have said Nizamdeen appeared to be an Islamic State Affiliate despite not charging him with being a member of a terrorist organization. "I don't think he was researching anything of that sort, if you look at how he conducted himself when he last came to Sri Lanka, he was a fun-loving, sociable, lovable, caring person," Musthapha said.

"It's a difficult time for the family... but I know any judicial system has to deal with this among a global phobia of terrorism, so the Australian Government would also be concerned if there's any suspicion of any form,” he added. Police allege Nizamdeen, who does not have any criminal history in Australia, was operating by himself, but do not believe he was capable of carrying out a terror attack.

If convicted, Nizamdeen could face up to 15 years in prison.

His uncle said despite his position in the Sri Lankan Government he would not be appealing to his Australian counterparts in regard to his nephew's case.

"I may be a government minister but this is a personal matter and this needs zero governmental interference," Musthapha said. Nizamdeen's LinkedIn page says he's been working as a Business Systems Analyst at UNSW since 2016, where he helped develop several projects aimed at stopping identity theft.

The commerce graduate was one of the faces of the university's Hero Program and he was in Australia on a student visa which was due to expire at the end of this month.

Tamil Nadu Student

In India, close on the heels of the arrest of top ranking human rights workers, artistes and lawyers across India, a 28 year old student Lois Sofia was arrested and remanded for 15 days in Tamil Nadu State for saying that the BJP is a “fascist” organization.

The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam President M.K.Stalin tweeted to say that he would, like hundrjeds of thousands of others, openly dub the BJP as fascist and challenged the police to fill the jails. The Congress party said that the arrest for shouting a slogan describing the BJP as “fascist” revealed the true fascist face of the BJP.

Fortunately, in all these cases, political parties, civil society and concerned citizens have risen to defend the victims of State paranoia, intolerance and oppression. State highhanded is being resisted by the ordinary citizen.

In the case of the Indian human rights workers, who were dubbed as the spirit behind the tribal Maoist movement in Central India, distinguished academics like historian Romila Thapar and economists Prabhat Patnaik and Devaki Jain, approached the Supreme Court and got judicial custody converted into house arrest.

But the Maharashtra police argued that they had documents and letters to prove that the five arrested were helping the Maoists procure arms from abroad and raising funds. The police said house arrest would help the accused destroy evidence and sought normal custody. The case is coming up for hearing again on September 6.

In the case of Lois Sofia, she has been enlarged on bail.

The overall opinion in India is that the BJP government is raking up the issue of Maoism, especially “Urban Maoism”, to turn the urban people against those fighting for peoples’ rights in the context of its declining popularity on the eve of the next parliamentary elections in May 2019.

“The Nation is in Danger” slogan is being revived so that the failures of the government get out the public view in the urban areas which had voted massively for the BJP in the last elections in 2014 in the hope that the BJP would foster development, business and job creation. But the BJP’s performance has belied expectations and even the urban voter is turning against the party.