THE SON of a popular social activist; a man who flaunted photos of himself posing with top BJP leaders during a party conclave more than two years ago; a reclusive imam who ran a cloth shop. The residents of Nagaur are still struggling to come to terms with the news that two of the three Indians nabbed by Delhi Police on charges of spying for Pakistan last week were from their town — Subhash Jangir and Maulana Ramzan Khan. The third, Soheb Hussain, who claimed to be a BJP worker on his Facebook account, is from Jodhpur — the party has denied any links to him.
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According to police, Jangir was caught on Wednesday during his first visit to the national capital, Hussain was arrested on Thursday at the Merta railway station in Nagaur while on his way to Jodhpur from Delhi; and, Khan was picked up from Delhi.
The alleged kingpin of the spy ring, Mehmood Akhtar, an employee of the Pakistan High Commission, was declared ‘persona non grata’ and asked to leave the country by Saturday.
On Friday, Jangir’s father Harikishan, known to have been a “strict” physical training instructor before taking up civic issues, couldn’t believe that his son had ties to an espionage ring because of his “shikshit, sanskari and anushashit (educated, cultured and orderly)” upbringing.
Banking on his father’s popularity, Jangir had contested the assembly election in 2013 as an independent candidate from Khinwsar but got only 1,939 votes. Police say Jangir was under “heavy debt”.
Khan, who was an imam at the Sayyedon ki Masjid near Gandhi Chowk, “used to live alone in a room within the mosque”, said a mosque committee member. He was removed from the job last December after he started being absent for long periods to visit his family home in Barmer.
The only possible link between Khan and Jangir, residents say, was that the former had opened a cloth shop near a small grocery outlet that the latter had started near his home in the Bassi locality last October. But Jangir’s brothers said they never saw the two together.
In Jodhpur, police sources said they were baffled that a man who had posted photographs of himself with BJP leaders such as Manohar Parrikar and Harsh Vardhan, apparently during the party’s national council meeting in New Delhi in August 2014, could be part of a spy ring.
The BJP’s district president Devendra Joshi said that he had never seen Hussain and dismissed his claims on Facebook that he was a BJP member. “He is not a party worker. I have gone through the membership records and he is not listed anywhere. Anyone can upload anything on social media. People can meet public representatives and click pictures. Prefixing BJP before your name on social media does not make you a member. It is also possible that these are fake,” says Joshi.
The bewilderment over the arrests, however, is most visible on the face of Jangir’s father who organises district-level sports activities during the Independence Day celebrations at Nagaur stadium, a stone’s throw from his home. He is currently planning to organise a convention on November 5 to spread awareness about “social evils”, such as child marriage, girls’ education, alcohol addiction, dowry, etc.
Soon after the family got news of the arrest on Thursday, Jangir’s mother was hospitalised due to high blood pressure.
“Subhash was like a brother to many of us. For instance, whenever blood was required, he would be ready to donate,” said Raju Ali, a neighbour.
Jangir, who failed his class 10 exams in 2007, got married in 2010 and has two children – a two and-a-half-year-old son and a three-month-old daughter. He has three brothers and four sisters.
According to his family, Jangir worked for a while with his elder brother Satpal, who ran a furniture business in Ahmedabad, before his marriage. “Subhash was never afraid of anything. He contested in 2013 against Hanuman Beniwal (a local heavweight) who won,” says Harikishan, sitting on a cot inside their home, surrounded by his sons and neighbours.
Denying that his son was under any debt, Harikishan says, “I financed his entire poll campaign, we are well off.” He then pointed to the six buffaloes and calves inside the premises, apart from a jeep, motorbikes and a pickup truck.
“It was Subhash’s first visit to Delhi. When I asked him how he would find his way around the big city, he said he was going with a friend,” says Harikishan, adding that his son had also claimed that he would get firecrackers from Delhi for sale in Nagaur.
“He may have been misled,” says Harikishan.
Little, however, is known of Khan even though he has been a Nagaur resident for nearly 20 years. “We didn’t interact with him much. We maintained some distance and treated him with utmost respect as he was an imam,” said Syed Hasan, a Bassi resident.