From where did the NIA (National Investigation Agency) pick up country made pistols (Kattas in the local lingo) and the alleged rocket launcher, ask residents of Jaffrabad, a slum in east Delhi. NIA had searched the house of Hafeez Ahmed earlier this week and informed him that his son Suhail (29) was the mastermind of an IS terror plot and had been picked up from Amroha.
An upset Hafeez Ahmed vents his ire on the media. “The media do not bother to present our version. They come, speak to us but write or broadcast what officials tell them,” he complains. Recalling the early morning raid, he tells NH that the agency did not recover anything incriminating from his house. He claimed that the raiding team left only after issuing a certificate that nothing incriminating had been found.
Neighbours are more forthcoming. While the general consensus is that the NIA is building up the terror scare to prepare the ground for the next general election, some laughed at the photographs of seizures shared by the NIA in the media. “The explosives that we saw in photographs and on TV looked like ‘Sutli Bombs’ or low intensity crackers we use on Diwali,” said an amused onlooker, triggering nods from others. What passed as a rocket launcher looked suspiciously like a hydraulic jack used by farmers to fix their tractors and trolleys, said another onlooker.
Family members of the five Muslim youth rounded up by the NIA are traumatised. Hafeez Ahmed informs that when he later spoke to people in Amroha, he was informed that his son had been picked up when he was asleep and the agency took him away in his under garments.
Former Seelampur MLA Mateen Ahmed said that he could not rule out the possibility of the young men being acquainted with each other. It is also possible that they shared messages or forwarded messages to each other, he said, but completely ruled out the possibility of the young men being involved in any violence or terror plot.
Neighbours of Hafeez Ahmed said in one voice that they knew the family for years and find it difficult to believe its members were involved in any terror plot. “Like all other young men, these five men may also be depressed over their bleak future and in their anger may have shared or said something on social media. But chances of these young men involved even remotely with a terror plot are far-fetched, said Irshad.
The family of Rashid Zafar ask if they would get a hearing. Zafar’s uncle Afzal Ahmed is confident that all the five youth would turn out to be innocent. “But by then they would have lost several precious years of their lives,” he laments.
‘If my son is proved to be a terrorist, he must get stringent punishment; we will never accept him back but no innocent man must be punished. On what basis has he been described as the mastermind,” asks Suhail’s father.
From Jaffrabad the NIA also picked up Md. Azam who was running a pharmacy in Seelampur and also Zubaid and Zaid Malik, both of them brothers.
Relatives of Saeed and Rais, picked up from Amroha, claim that the two were mechanics who repaired tractor trolleys.