HYDERABAD: Two days after city police linked Moutasim Billah to alleged SIMI operatives Shah Mudassir and Shoeb Ahmed Khan, both from Maharashtra, his family on Friday claimed they were innocent and framed by the cops.Police said on Wednesday that Billah, son of cleric Abdul Aleem Islahi from Saidabad, was in contact with the two SIMI operatives. Both parties exchanged messages on social networking sites, they claimed. They alleged that Billah had encouraged and even offered to sponsor the duo’s trip to Afghanistan to receive training, reportedly from the notorious terror organisation Al Qaida.

On Friday Billah, who is pursuing postgraduation in engineering from Osmania University, and his relatives said that police claimed that he was absconding, when in fact he has been appearing before the court and attending classes.

“The reason I have called the media to my house is to show that I am not absconding. I am very much here. I have been attending court hearings and my attendance records can prove it. The police say that I have expressed my desire to finance the two persons who were arrested when I myself don’t have enough money to pay university fee,” Billah claimed. The family suspected that the police were trying to pressure them as the next hearing of a case pertaining to Mujahid Saleem, Billah’s brother, who was gunned down in 2004 by Gujarat cop Narendra Amin, was scheduled for October 27.

“Instead of prosecuting my brother’s killer, the family has been slapped with a murder case. Scores of people have met us since 2004, but this does not mean that we are guilty. We have been suffering for this for the past 10 years. They don’t want us to live peacefully,” said Billah’s father 86-year-old Islahi.

While admitting that he was a sympathiser of SIMI before it was banned, Billah’s father sought to clarify that he had authored a book titled “Jihad Kya Hai?,” which a section of media reported was recovered from the Maharashtrian duo.

According to the family’s own admission, Islahi was expelled from the Jamat-e-Islami, a socio-religious organisation, for his hardline views on the Babri Masjid demolition. In September last year, Kerala police booked a case against an executive of Nanma Books for reportedly publishing Islahi’s book titled “Dawat-o-Jihad”, stating that it could cause communal discord, something the cleric vehemently denied.

“I have written no book with that title. However, I have written a book called Jaahiliyat ke Khilaaf Jung (Struggle Against Ignorance),” he clarified.