Four young men — Akhlaq-ur-Rehman, Mohammed Azeem, Mohammed Osama and Mohammad Mehraj — were arrested from Uttarakhand for their alleged links to the Islamic State (IS).
When HT spoke to their families on Thursday, they appeared convinced of their innocence but were willing to put the country first if the allegations were proven true.
“They have declared my son a terrorist. He cannot do this. He has no links with any anti-national group,” said Akhlaq’s mother Gulshan Begum.
Speaking at their home in Chandanpur-Bhagwanpur village, around 12km from Roorkee, Gulshan, her husband Mohammed Naseem and their five children denied the charges levelled against Akhlaq, who was arrested on Tuesday.
Police say Akhlaq was in touch with three others held in Delhi and was allegedly planning terror strikes during the Kumbh fair in Haridwar.
Denying the charges, Naseem said if, however, Akhlaq is proven guilty, the family would disown him. “Agar iljaam sabit hota hai to mai samajhunga ki uske pet mein koi galat niwala chala gaya (If the charges proven, I will think we didn’t raise him right).,” he said.
A similar conviction was displayed by Azeem’s father Abdul Sattar, 52, an Uttarakhand Transport Corporation employee, who said his country came before the love for his son. Azeem, was arrested by the Delhi police for his alleged ties with the IS.
“My father fought for the country in the 1965 Indo-China war. It is difficult to believe that Azeem has any links with any terrorist groups. If he is proven guilty, I will accept whatever punishment he is given.”
Mehraj’s brother Sarfaraz Ali, a contractor, too rubbished allegations of him being a terrorist.
“How can anyone say he was in possession of incriminating documents or explosive materials when he surrendered before the police when on Tuesday night?” he said.
He added:“I am sure Mehraj cannot have any links with any anti-national groups, but if the allegations by the Delhi police are proven right and he is found guilty of working against the nation, we will disown him.”
Akhlaq, Azeem, Mehraj and Mohammed Osama were arrested on Tuesday and taken to Delhi on charges of planning terror strikes during the Kumbh fair and on Haridwar-bound trains.