A tired, nevertheless ecstatic Haneef arrived at the gates of his Bangalore residence, last night. A household name by now, Haneef or Dr. Mohammed Haneef NRI, left Brisbane after 25 harrowing days in police custody, accused of 'recklessly' supporting a terrorist outfit.
Dressed formally, 27-year-old Haneef, looking calm and unperturbed landed at Bangalore airport at around 2130 hours and was warmly welcomed by his father-in-law Ashwaq Ahmed and his brother.
AdvertisementNot biding his time, Haneef told media persons at his residence that he was "victimized" by Australian authorities and by the drama enacted by the Australian Police.
"I have been victimized by Australian authorities and by a drama by Australian Federal Police", he said.
This is Haneef's first criticism of Australian authorities since his arrest in Brisbane on July 2, on the charge of recklessly helping a terrorist group, which included his cousins, in connection with the failed car bomb attacks in Britain.
Haneef, in an interview with Australian channel Nine before he left the country, said that the thought of helping terrorism had occurred "nowhere in the remotest corner of his brain".
At home, it was a happy reunion for the young doctor who told reporters that it was an "emotional moment" for him to be united with his family and back home, after going through the "trauma of a victim".
The doctor who began his statements with the words "Glory be to God", thanked his family the Indian government, the Indian High Commissioner to Australia; Prabhat Shukla, lawyer Peter Russo and his legal team as well as his "supporters in India, Australia and throughout the world and the media which supported me in India and worldwide".
Haneef said he would like to thank his cousin Imran Siddiqui, who had gone to Australia to help him in his legal battle against Australian authorities, for helping him come back home to reunite with his family.
Cousins Siddiqui and Haneef said last night that they would not take any question from the media, until a press conference arranged today.
Haneef's lawyer Peter Russo has given that Australian Government owed Dr. Haneef an apology, and signaled possible legal action over damage to his client's reputation.
"He is not expecting [an apology] but I guess if the people who are in line for being sued want to mitigate their losses they might want to think about apologies," Mr. Russo was quoted.
Yet, Prime Minister Mr. John Howard in response said that mistakes happened from time to time and when dealing with terrorism, it was better to be safe than sorry.
"Australia will not be apologizing to Dr Haneef," Mr. Howard told the press in Sydney.
"Dr Haneef was not victimized and Australia's international reputation has not been harmed by this 'mis-start' to its new anti-terrorism laws."
In addition, Mr. Howard said he supported the AFP and Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews, who revoked Dr Haneef's visa earlier this month, just hours after a Brisbane court had granted him bail.
As for Haneef's wife Firdaus Arshiya, she shared these thoughts with the media: "My husband's innocence has been accepted by everyone in the world. He is just waiting to get back. I do not want anyone else to go through what we did. Don't know about Haneef, but I don't want to go back to Australia".