Report: Indian-American couple arrested for suspicious activity

CHICAGO, Dec. 20 — Chicago police have arrested an Indian-American couple on suspicion of being terrorists afterDevon_avenue
they turned each other in for suspicious activity.

Police Superintendent J.P. "Jody" Weis announced the arrest at a press conference in City Hall, calling it a "victory" for the Bureau of Strategic Deployment. The bureau had issued a Winter Holiday Public Awareness Bulletin that urged citizens to call 911 if they spotted "suspect activities," including "Physical Surveillance (note taking, binocular use, cameras, video, maps)".

Balaji "Bill" Parameswaran and his wife, Beena, were picked up on Devon Avenue by the bureau’s Fast Response Tactical Unit after Beena called 911 to report that her husband had been using his binoculars to look at buildings. According to a police report, Balaji denied he was looking at buildings and said his wife was angry because he was "scoping babes."

While being handcuffed, Balaji told officers that they should arrest Beena too, because she had been using a map to find "important buildings." Officers searched Beena and found a map of Chicago in her possession, with a section of Devon Avenue highlighted and the word "dosa" penciled in. Police believe that the couple are members of a militant organization called DOSA (Desis Organized for Secret Attacks). The group has been tied to several attacks on restaurants in Washington D.C.

"We do not know what caused them to turn each other in," Weis said. "Perhaps they were having a domestic dispute. But there’s no doubt in my mind that without the bulletin, we wouldn’t have reeled them in." He added that Devon Avenue, known for its many ethnic stores and restaurants, was a potential target area because "it’s as populated as India on weekends."

He denied a CNN report that the couple would be turned over to the CIA and might be in danger of being waterboarded, saying that since it was winter, they were more likely to be "snowboarded." He said they might also be deported to India. But the Parameswaran’s attorney, John Gilliam, said that deportation was unlikely because "if that happens, they would become the first U.S.-born citizens to be deported to a foreign country."

Meanwhile, hundreds of people marched down Devon Avenue to protest the arrest of the Parameswarans. The leader of the group, a young Indian-American man, called the arrest a "security perversity" and demanded that the Parameswarans be released immediately. "They are not a threat to anyone," said the man, who declined to give his name, citing security concerns. "We think this is another example of …"

Our reporter on the scene could not write down the entire quote, as he was arrested himself for note-taking.

If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through Amazon.com and McNallyRobinson.com You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.

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