Villagers of Devpare in Azamgarh have only a few memories of alleged IM operative Faizan Ahmed Sultan, who was deported from the UAE on Friday and said to have helped suspected terrorists on the run in Dubai by facilitating their travel to Pakistan.
Faizan, 60, had shifted to Mumbai three decades ago and later moved to Dubai where he was believed to run a laundry business.
While old residents recall Faizan, no one admits to having seen his son Fahath, 32, who was with Faizan on the flight. The NIA had immediately arrested the alleged IM man, but claimed it did not detain Fahath and asked him to “stay” at the agency’s offices.
The two, according to relatives, were detained in Dubai in February. The UAE authorities with the help of RAW had rounded Faizan, who was also put on a Red Corner Notice by the Interpol. “They detained him for three months… We will take legal recourse,” says Faizan’s younger brother Salman Ahmad.
The family lived in Dubai for over two decades and never returned to Azamgarh, except probably for a marriage in mid-1990s, say locals. Faizan’s nephew Saood Ahmad, in his early twenties, has never seen his uncle or cousin Fahad.
While the villagers claim the police framed Faizan, they maintain a safe distance. “Faizan is my childhood friend, he can never be involved in such activities, but I have never from him in the last 30 years. I’ve never seen his son. I really know nothing about him,” says an elderly man, who did not wish to be named.
Villagers also note that Faizan had links with SP leader Abu Azmi and lived with him in Mumbai for some time. Azmi, incidentally, was campaigning in the village on Sunday.
Salman says the duo were framed and the Dubai authorities colluded with it. “While the NIA got the arrest warrant on February 14, they had already been detained in Dubai on February 4. How is that possible? You issue a Red Corner Notice only after receiving an arrest warrant, and then only police of another country detain someone,” says Salman, who lives in Devpare but has been staying in Delhi.
Azamgarh has seen several Muslim youths arrested in recent years for alleged involvement with IM, and its links with Gulf countries. Almost all of them were from villages under Lalganj police station, 35 km from the district headquarters.
Devpare village is on the other side of Azamgarh, around 70 km from Lalganj.