Mudabbir Sheikh, 33, who was picked up by NIA late Thursday night from his home in Mumbra, about 30 km north of Mumbai, kept to himself and hardly left the house, say neighbours.
Sheikh, who worked in an IT firm till two years ago, spent a lot of time on the Internet. When his wife asked what he was busy with, his replies were vague: “Information Technology, software programming, he told her,” said Sheikh’s father-in-law Abdul Miyan, a real estate broker. “He hardly spoke to me. How would I know what he was up to?” he said.
Sheikh’s flat on the fourth floor of Reshma Apartments in the middle-class locality of Amrut Nagar has been locked since Friday morning, when news spread about officers taking him away. His wife and two daughters, one aged four and the other an infant, moved to a relative’s home.
Abdul had helped Sheikh buy the flat after he married his daughter a few years ago. Sheikh, originally from Pune, previously lived in Mumbai suburb Nallasopara and worked in Goregaon. After marriage, the BCom graduate shifted to Mumbra.
“He found travelling to Goregaon cumbersome and quit his job two years ago. Since then he would sit at home working on the computer,” Ahmed said.
A neighbour, Abdul Ghani, said Sheikh’s wife told him Friday that 10-15 people came to their house around 3 am. They seized the hard disk and computer and took the 33-year-old away, saying that he was being taken for questioning. “Only when media arrived did the family find out what he was being charged with,” he said.
“Apart from stepping out to say prayers five times a day at the local mosque, he would leave home around 7.30 am to drop his daughter to school. He never stepped out apart from that. He was at home, in front of the computer,” said a shopkeeper who also lives in Reshma Apartments.
Sheikh is described by neighbours as shareef (well-behaved) and one who rarely ever interfered in other people’s affairs.
A former secretary of the housing society said while Sheikh participated in society meetings, he would never stay back and chat. “He was a man in a hurry. Whenever I would stop him to talk, he would say he was busy and would meet us later,” the former committee member said.
Another neighbour was shocked at him being taken away.
“He had such a bholi soorat (innocent face) and a nice demeanour. Who knows what goes on in the minds of people?”