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Terror suspects: Kin appeal to save their sons

PEOPLE GIVE you furtive glances as you approach the desolate house in Habibpur area on the outskirts of Rajajipuram. The sun is beating down and an eerie kind of silence prevails in the locality. It needs some convincing before the police outpost in-charge, who provided Shoeb?s address, gives up the idea of accompanying this correspondent to his house.

india Updated: Apr 07, 2006 01:06 IST

PEOPLE GIVE you furtive glances as you approach the desolate house in Habibpur area on the outskirts of Rajajipuram. The sun is beating down and an eerie kind of silence prevails in the locality. It needs some convincing before the police outpost in-charge, who provided Shoeb’s address, gives up the idea of accompanying this correspondent to his house. 

Shoeb’s elder brother, who is the sole bread earner (he works in a bakery in Qaiserbagh) in the family, ushers us into a room, which has only a cot to sit on. A bespectacled, frail looking bearded man, who emerges from the adjoining room, introduces himself as Wazir Hasan, father of Shoeb, even as he asks his elder son to get back the chairs they had lent to their neighbour. “Tell them, we too have guests,” he says.

“A police inspector came in the morning and told us not to leave the house under any circumstances and left with the warning that any attempt to escape would be futile,” says Hasan. “My son could have never done any such thing. He was a student of arts and was into second year of his graduation from the Mumtaz Degree College. Yes, he went to Bangladesh with the ‘Tablighi Jamaat’ (religious delegation) and use to offer ‘namaz’ five times a day. But does this make him a suspect? You can cross-check what kind of a boy he was with those who knew him in this locality,” he says. 

Asked if his son often kept away from home without informing him, Hasan replied in the affirmative. “The police say he went to Pakistan. I don’t know. But yes, he stayed in Bangladesh for three months and came back only after I wrote him a letter informing him that his mother was seriously ill,” he said.

 He, however, had no answer when asked who funded his son’s trip to Bangladesh. “She (Shoeb’s mother) is still bed-ridden. She doesn’t know anything; please don’t tell her about Shoeb’s arrest, he pleads and then breaks down. “Please save my son, he is innocent,” he says waving a passport size photograph of his son. 

An equally inconsolable mother of Farhan, the second suspect picked up by the STF, who lives in a house with her four sons and a daughter only a stone’s throw away from Hasan’s house, makes a similar emotional appeal for her 24-year-old son.

Farhan’s father is a tutor in Saudi Arabia and the family has not informed him about his arrest. “Whenever we saw a terrorist attack on television, we use to wonder what kind of people these terrorists were, who never cared either about their family members or their country,” says Farhan’s sister, who studies in local school. She, however, makes it obvious that neither she nor her mother, Najma, approved of Farhan’s friendship with Shoeb.

“My brother had just started his business in chicken embroidery. On March 16, we had gone to attend an engagement ceremony of a relative. When we came back, my younger brother told me that Bhai had gone to Meerut in connection with his business,” she recalls. We got worried after a couple of days when we were unable to contact him on his cellphone, which was found switched off every time we tried to get in touch with him, said Farhan’s mother Najma.

“We grew suspicious and felt that something was wrong when a couple of days back, a man who identified himself as Yunus Khan from the local intelligence unit called on us and made inquiries about Farhan, she said. “My younger brothers, who went to meet Farhan today, were turned away by the police,” she said.