On the third floor of the city court in Sewri stood a worried 59-year-old, trying to get at least one look at his son, being escorted into the court room by a posse of policemen.
The man was Shakil Ahmed, whose 24-year-old son Anees Ansari was arrested on October 18 for allegedly plotting to blow up the American school at Bandra Kurla Complex.
Within 10 minutes, the court sent Anees to judicial custody till November 14.
The Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad (ATS), which is keeping tabs on social media websites as cases of people being influenced by extremist organisations online rise, arrested Anees on the basis of his chats, where he had talked of blowing up the school.
Shakil, a former journalist with leading national dailies, is finding it difficult to come to terms with ATS’ claims, but is quick to thank the anti-terror body.
“I am really thankful to the ATS for stopped my child from going astray and getting involved with organisations like ISIS,” said Shakil. Shakil believes his son needs counselling, and his mental state is not right. An application was moved before the court, which sought psychiatric attention for Anees. Shakil said, “If he has posted anything like the allegations put against him, then ATS did the right thing.”
“It looks like ISIS is getting into the mind of many young people. Why don’t they understand they live in India and should stay away from such things?,” said Shakil. Anees would talk about the Khilafat (succession of the caliphate) in Iraq and Syria, but his family never thought the matter had seriously influenced him.
Shakil finds it difficult to believe that his son, a loner, would be involved in organised conspiracies. “He hardly talked to anybody and did not even have close friends. It is tough to believe he is involved in any conspiracy. If he has posted anything offensive online, I believe it is an act of immaturity,” said Shakil.
Ahmed said there is no television or internet connection in their house and Anees would access the web in his office. The 24-year-old does not even own a mobile phone, said his father.
“He used to earn Rs. 19,000, and contributed Rs. 16,000 as domestic expenses. Even the remaining Rs 3,000 would be spent on us,” said Shakeel. After Anees’ arrest, the family’s life has changed. “I hardly move around in my neighbourhood. Everyone looks at me with suspicion. I try to maintain a low profile,” Ahmed said.