A closer look at the lives of the men arrested for alleged links with JeM
A sensational news emanating out of Delhi's security circles created ripples this week. The special cell of Delhi Police claimed to have arrested three suspected members of Pakistan-based terror organisation Jaish-e-Mohammed. The accused were allegedly planning an attack in the national capital. They were reportedly nabbed during raids in Delhi's Gokalpuri, Ghaziabad's Loni and Saharanpur's Deoband area.
13 youngsters were taken into custody during the operation. Six of them are residents of Chand Bagh locality in Gokalpuri. According to the information disclosed by the special cell, the security agencies came to know of their links with Jaish-e-Mohammed on 18 April. The special cell officials also declared that one of the accused Mohd Sajid, a resident of Chand Bagh, has admitted to his association with the terror outfit.
Sajid is said to be heading this Jaish module. His confession and cellphone contacts led the cops to detain five other people of the Chand Bagh area. However, MS Khan, a lawyer associated with the case, said that the police had rounded up only three people. On Saturday, four of the suspects were released - Mohsin khan, Imran khan and Jeeshan from Chand Bagh and Mufti Mazahir from Loni.
Catch visited the locality to ascertain the truth of this police action. The six that were picked up from Chand Bagh are members of the Tablighi Jamaat, an orthodox Sunni global movement. They were also involved in spreading the religious message of Islam through Jamaat.
The President of Jamiat Ulema-I-Hind Maulana Arshad Madni suspects some foul play behind the arrests. While talking to Catch, Madni said he personally knew Shakir Ansari and Azeem, the two suspects who were detained from Deoband.
"The police often frames innocent youth in such a manner," he said.
Besides Mohammed Sajid and Shakir Ansari, the special cell has only shown the formal arrest of Sameer Ahmed so far. He was taken into custody from Loni. The sessions court of Delhi has sent all three accused to 10 days of police remand.
Here's a closer look at the six accused belonging to the Chand Bagh area:
Name: Mohammed Sajid
Age: 19 years
Income: 12-15 thousand per month
Mohammed Sajid lived in a house just 100 metres from the local mosque. He was picked up by sleuths in plain clothes while coming out of the mosque after evening prayers on Tuesday. Sajid was hustled into a vehicle with a Haryana number plate.
"The people coming out of the mosque tried to stop them. The cops warned that they'd shoot anyone trying to interfere," alleges Sajid's brother Mohammed Tayub.
Sajid's family hails from Daulatpur village in UP's Bulandshahr district. His late father Nizamuddin worked as a mason in Delhi. Sajid has four brothers and two sisters. His family owns a two-storey house in Chand Bagh.
Mohammed Tayub says the special team raided their house at around 10.30 pm on Tuesday. They asked for the keys of the family's workshop, but since it was with Sajid, the cops broke the door down.
The policemen apparently asked Ayub (another brother) to show them the toilet. They think it was merely to distract him because when Ayub returned, he saw cops were clicking photographs inside the workshop.
Sajid's neighbours told this reporter that policemen were also carrying bags. But nobody could confirm the number, size or colour of these bags. The members of the special cell team kept searching the premises till 4 am in the morning.
Sajid's sister Mehjabin saw the cops taking away the Quran, Hadith and other Islamic books from the workshop.
The special cell DCP Pramod Singh Kushwaha has disclosed that Sajid was under surveillance for some time. The cops decided to take action when they were alerted by an informer about a blast inside Sajid's workshop during the night. The secret input suggested the blast had taken place while Sajid was trying to wire an IED. He had also allegedly burnt his hands in the process.
But Mehjabin disputes this theory. She insists Sajid's hand was burnt when she accidentally poured hot milk on it while serving.
"I feel guilty. The police would not have concocted the blast theory, had I not spilled milk over Sajid's hands," she rues.
Though Sajid is a religious person and an active member of Tablighi Jamaat, this hardly proves his crime.
"He is not an exception in this regard. A large number of people in this area are associated with Tablighi Jamaat," says Sajid's neighbour Mohammed Fazil. In fact, all the six people detained from Chand Bagh are members of the Jamaat. A group of 10-15 Jamaat activists used to visit the colony after evening prayers and motivate fellow Muslims to offer namaz regularly.
"What can we do if the police pick up people by branding them as terrorists? We cannot fight the government but not even a single person in the Chand Bagh colony would say a bad word against these young men. We have seen them growing up in the locality. The whole neighbourhood stands in their support," says Mohammed Akram, a local resident.
Name: Mohsin Khan,
Age: 32 years
Occupation: Cloth Hawker
Income: Rs 200-250 per day
Mohsin Khan lived near Mohammed Sajid's house. He has studied only up to Class IV. Married four years ago, Mohsin is the father of twin daughters. He used to sell clothes on the streets to earn his daily wages.
"The special cell cops came to our house with some commandos of the Delhi Police. They called Mohsin and took him away after ordering us to mark attendance at Lodhi Colony police station next morning," recounts Mohsin's father Mohammed Saeed.
Hishamuddin has worked closely with Mohsin as an activist of Tablighi Jamaat. He says Mohsin was never even involved in a petty spats in the locality. The weekly meetings of Tablighi Jamaat are organised every Wednesday in Chand Bagh's Jama Masjid. But, the issue of arrests cannot be raised in these meetings as the Jamaat bans any discussions on politically sensitive issues.
Name: Imran Khan
Age: 32 years
Imran's house is located just behind Sajid's residence. Having studied till Class XII, he is the most educated one among the detained youth from this neighbourhood. He worked as a salesman for a company based in Rohini in Delhi. According to Imran's cousin Mohammed Yaqoob, he left for work at around 8 am every morning and returned at about 8 pm. He would rest for a while and then go to offer his evening prayers. Most of Imran's free time was spent with his friends from Jamaat.
The special cell team took him into custody at around 11 pm in the presence of Delhi Police commandos. Yaqoob reached Gokalpuri station to enquire about Imran's whereabouts, but to no avail. He is now bringing together the families of the detained men to wage a legal battle.
Name: Azeem Ahmed
Age: 18/19 years
All of Azeem's family members have been educated at Deoband. His elder brother Kalim Ahmed is an Imam at Moti Masjid in Delhi's Connaught Place. His father also works in the same capacity at Jama Masjid in Yamuna Vihar, Delhi.
Kalim says his brother is mentally challenged. This is the reason he could not be enrolled into a school. He wasn't capable of eating food by himself till the age of 7.
He recounts how his street was filled with dozens of police vehicles on the night of Azeem's arrest.
"All the policemen were armed with revolvers and AK-47 rifles. When they tried to enter our house, we asked for the reason. We brought Azeem to them, they just took him without saying anything. The ASI present at the police station abused us when he saw our beards, skullcaps and kurtas. He charged us with spreading terrorism and threatened to beat us in the lock-up. We simply walked away from the police station and contacted Maulana Arshad Madni. He gave us courage and sent us to meet a Patiala House court lawyer MS Khan.
Age: 16/17 years
Occupation: Selling Bangles
Income: 200-300 Rs per day
Jeeshan had just returned home from his evening prayers and after completing the Jamaat's work that night. He told his family that he didn't feel like eating and went outside. Soon, a boy from the neighbourhood came to inform him that the police had come to his house. Jeeshan headed home immediately, only to be picked up by the police.
Jeeshan's father cannot walk properly due to a leg injury. He told Catch that selling bangles is their family occupation. Jeeshan was also employed in the same business. He would also go for a three-day Jamaat by taking time out from work. However, he never missed his namaz. The father told us that 5-6 policemen informed them that they were simply taking Jeeshan for questioning, but he has still not been released.
Name: Sakhawat Ali
Age: 32 years
Occupation: Salesman in a spare parts company
Sakhawat's father is a painter by profession. His younger brother is pursuing a B.Tech (Civil) degree from a college in Noida. He was present at the Lodhi Colony police station from 11 am on Wednesday, but was allowed to meet his son only at around 7.30 pm. The police had given Sakhawat food and did not torture him and they questioned him about his links with the Jamaat.
The Jamiat Ulema-I-Hind president Maulana Arshad Madni has promised legal help to all of the accused.
"We provide legal assistance to anyone who comes to us and says he cannot afford it. The people of Chand Bagh have also contacted us and we have arranged a lawyer for them," he told Catch.
Madni alleges that there is an unwritten policy to hound Muslims in this country. "They are picked up without any proof. It takes years to get them released from courts. Nobody listens to their story after they are acquitted," he adds.