For nearly two decades, Safdar Nagori, the arrested SIMI chief, ensured that his family members remain closeted to their ancestral home at Nagori colony in Mahidpur - a taluka in Madhya Pradesh famous for its Nagori clan that primarily is into transport business.
Safdar’s family had preferred not to speak about their son, who is said to have pioneered SIMI’s activities and created what is now perceived as India’s homebred terror network.
But on Sunday, Safdar’s 63-year-old father, Zahir-ul-Hasan Nagori, who retired from the Madhya Pradesh police force as an assistant sub-inspector, decided to clear the air.
The tall and lanky man rues the fact that his family cannot step out of the stigma his son had brought on them.
Safdar’s mother is almost bedridden with serious bouts of migrane. His elder brother Haider Hasan runs a auto parts shop while the youngest brother is mentally challenged.
But Zahir-ul-Hasan musters apologises to have fathered Safdar. “For an officer who served the police force with distinction, there is nothing more disgraceful than to be questioned by his senior officials about his son’s activities. It’s a shame, a stigma that I will have to live with till I die. The worst is I don’t have any choice,” said Zahir-ul-Hasan.
“I would appeal to all my fellow brethren across the country to educate children in good schools,” he said, adding that “Keep them away from the vicious terror networks that some fundamentalists have created.”
“The first lesson that Islam or any other religion teaches is to respect your father and mother. Safdar, through his activities, has not adhered to the very first principle. What religion or ‘jehad’ is he preaching about?,” questioned Zahir-ul-Hasan.
And then no religion in the world teaches to kill people and Islam is no different, he added. “Jehad teaches to cleanse yourself and then your own community. Some people have distorted the facts to which youngsters fall prey to,” he further said.
Zahir-ul-Hasan describes Safdar’s entry into SIMI his own failure. He believes he could not spare enough time for his children. “I was in the force and duty sometimes demanded from me gruelling hours of work. Sometimes I had to work for 24 hours as well. And Safdar drifted away,” he added remorsefully.
But Zahir-ul-Hasan’s greatest regret is to have rented out a flat in Tophgadh area of Ujjain — a locality said to be the hub of SIMI’s activists.
The first indication of Safdar not concentrating on his studies came in 1988 when he was at Vikram University in Ujjain.
“At that time, I knew that he visited SIMI’s local branch. But SIMI was not a banned outfit then. I told Safdar not to involve himself and focus on his studies. He used to tell me, ‘I am not interested in SIMI and would not get involved,’” the father said.
Zahir-ul-Hasan got promoted and was posted to Mansor district. He decided to leave his family and attend to his call for duty — another mistake he regrets.
This let Safdar off the hook. “I used to be informed that Safdar did not return home for a night. But apart from admonishing him, I could not keep control on him because I was not physically present,” his father added.
After he finished his diploma, Safdar moved back to Mahidpur. During this period, he used to circulate a hand-written pamphlet of SIMI.
“I never knew about the pamphlet. And then in 1991, he told us that he had got a job in a journal in Delhi. He left never to return,” said Zahir-ul-Hasan.
But he still hopes that Safdar might shun his old habits and returns home to lead a normal life with him, and the family.