Four months after the mysterious murder of terror suspect Mohammed Qateel Siddiqui in Pune's Yerawada jail, his mother and father are still searching for the "right explanation" back home in Darbhanga's Barh Samella village.
They are angry, and they don't hide it. They fume if anybody tries to talk of the suspected terror links of their son. "Do we have to pay just for being Muslims? Four youth from the village have been picked up by the police. Qateel had no past criminal record. The entire village is perturbed, as many youth from here are studying or working outside. Nobody knows whose turn is next, because the police first arrest and then try to develop evidence by torturing innocent persons," says septuagenarian Md Akhtar, Qateel's uncle.
As we talked, more villagers also join in as does Qateel's mother, flanked by her two schoolgoing daughters. "If he was really an anti-national, the police should give evidence. Had he been shot by the police in an encounter or after proving his guilt, we would have accepted it, but how could a person be murdered in the jail barrack?" she asked.
Octogenarian Izhar Ahmad recalled how Qateel's father got to know of Qateel's murder from a TV channel. "Somebody perhaps told him to watch TV. He rushed back and asked his daughter to switch on the TV. The newsreader said, Qateel was killed under mysterious circumstances," he went on.
Qateel's mother Gulshan Ara cannot stop herself. "If he was guilty of treason, they should have proved it and shot him. I would have not felt the pain. If not, they would have kept him in jail for 100 years and we would have lived with it. But murder inside prison is something that smacks of torture. Even Kasab did not meet this fate," she said.
Introducing her two daughters Saina and Sahista, she said the entire family is unable to recover from the shock. "How will I marry them? Qateel would have supported the family, but he was killed before his guilt could be proved. In fact, we are being tortured. Qateel's wife and three small children are also suffering," she asked.
The mukhia, Md Israel, too, expressed anguish over the way the village was being defamed. In fact, the entire village, today suffers from a fear psychosis.
"With no employment opportunity here, people send their wards outside for study or jobs. We are surprised how the children of the village are suddenly being branded anti-national? Kafil Akhtar was also arrested, but as far as we know, he barely moved out of the village due to his extremely poor eyesight since childhood," he added.
He, however, admitted, that it was hard to read anyone's heart. "But in the village, we never found them involved in any mischief. Gouhar Aziz is the fourth to be arrested. All are related in one way or the other. This is a small village of just over 500 people. But yes, things do look strange," he added.