On Tuesday morning, a team of Delhi Police and Uttar Pradesh’s Anti-Terrorist Squad conducted raids on Atif Amin’s village, Sarai Meer in Azamgarh.
Soon after, sensational news was ‘breaking’ on national television news channels: Rs 3 crore had been found in Atif’s account in the Union Bank of India. The news brought all of Sarai Meer to a boil.
An hour later, the bank’s Assistant General Manager, Bharat Kumar, clarified that Atif’s account had only Rs 1,500 in it. His alleged fellow-terrorist, Mohammed Saif’s account had Rs 30,000.
Both were scholarship accounts, into which money the boys received from the Uttar Pradesh government was being directly debited.
These events have further angered an already angry Muslim population. “The news channels are showing what ever they want. If you believe their reports then I am a terrorist, my son is a terrorist, everyone in Azamgarh is a terrorist,” said an agitated resident, Tariq Shafiq, after hearing the confirmation from the bank.
“Nothing has been proved against any of the village boys. The law will take its own course,” says Mohammed Tariq, another local. “But the people here are asked, how do you feel about your son being a terrorist, or did you know he will set off these kind of blasts?” he says.
A day earlier, a news channel had announced that the father of Sajid, who was killed in the Batla house encounter, had died of a heart attack.
The hasty and incorrect reporting has led to hostility against reporters. All reporters are greeted with angry stares and expletives.