There is an anecdote about Haidar Ali that a lot of people in Kheriyama village narrated. “Once Haidar was at a house and they offered him tea. Before taking it, he asked his host how he had prepared it. The host said he had boiled the tea on a hot plate. Haidar said he could not accept the tea,” says Haidar’s sister Sama Parveen, the eldest of five siblings. She then pauses for effect before continuing, “He said the tea was haraam since the owner of the house was using stolen electricity. Haidar would always tell us that we should not accept something if we have not paid for it.”
More than seven years after he left his house in Bihar’s Aurangabad district, investigators from the National Investigation Agency (NIA) went there looking for Haidar in November 2013. “Before that, the only sarkar I knew was Nitish sarkar. Then I heard about this Modi sarkar and the riots in Gujarat,” says Sama.
By then, Haidar’s was a familiar name on Ranchi’s streets: they said he prepped the city’s youngsters who were caught for detonating bombs that killed six people at Patna’s Gandhi Maidan on October 27 last year, shortly before Narendra Modi, then the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, was to address a pre-election rally. In May this year, the NIA arrested him from Ranchi’s Khadgarha bus station.
In the course of the investigation, Haidar has come to be portrayed as a puppeteer of sorts. As a recruiter for the banned Indian Mujahideen —some, including the NIA, say Students’ Islamic Movement of India — he broke from the IM’s supposed tradition of bringing into its fold educated youngsters and targeted uneducated youths.
He was the outsider who disrupted Ranchi’s peace. Parents of the arrested suspects, who have gleaned information from newspapers, talk of him as a disruptive influence on their sons. Apart from all of them being members of the puritan Ahle Hadees sect, Haidar is the only other thread that runs through the Ranchi-based suspects in the Patna blasts case: Haidar taught Ozair Ahmed’s children; Haidar visited Mujibullah Ansari’s room; Haidar was spotted at Sithio village from where five suspects hailed. To top this, investigators began referring to continued…