Following terror alert, eight men reportedly working for the Tablighi Jamaat were among several detained across Gujarat on Tuesday. They were detained by the police in Silvassa, capital of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, after a tip-off by locals. On checking their identity and residence proofs, which showed they were from Vapi, the police let them go after recording their statements. They told the police that they had gone around seeking Muslims working in different factories to be present for the upcoming religious meeting on March 31-April 1 at Atul village in Valsad district.
A team comprising eight youths, headed by Asif Memon, a construction contractor of Vapi, went to the neighbouring Silvassa to invite Muslims to participate in the meeting, on Monday. After covering different areas, they entered Naroli village which is industrially developed. Assuming that Muslims might be working in the factories, they tried to inquire with locals about the Muslim houses. Alarmed, the locals informed the police.
Asif Memon told The Indian Express, “We all are residents of Dungra village in Vapi and are engaged in either farming or running shops. We tried telling the villagers that we were from Vapi, but they did not believe us and called the police. We don’t hold any grudge against anybody. We showed police all the documents of our houses and our identity cards. They were convinced and allowed us to return home. We went to Silvassa because there are many Muslim youths working in different factories and we wanted to contact them and invite them to participate in the religious meeting at Atul village in Valsad.”
The police team that questioned them included Silvassa Superintendent of Police Pramod Mishra and police inspectors K B Mahajan and Anil Tika. Silvassa Superintendent of Police Pramod Mishra said, “We talked to all the members and after seeing their residence proofs and talking to some known persons of Vapi, we allowed them to go back home. They had come here to invite people to attend the upcoming religious meeting on March 31 and April 1.”