A day after terrorist group Ansar ul-Tauhid ul-Hind announced that he had been “martyred” in Afghanistan, the parents of Anwer Bhatkal on Saturday identified the photograph tweeted along with the message of his death as that of their eldest son Anwer Beli, 38, but denied any knowledge of his death.
As reported by The Indian Express, the Ansar ul-Tauhid’s media unit, al Isabah, on Friday tweeted a photograph of an armed Anwer Bhatkal while paying its homage to him. If true, this would mark the first fatality among one of several Indians known to be training with insurgents in Afghanistan.
“The face in the photographs I have seen is that of my son but the attire he is wearing is not his. It is an edited photograph with his face. We don’t know where he is at present,’’ said Anwer Bhatkal’s father, Mohammed Yusuf Beli, 65, who lives in the coastal Karnataka town of Bhatkal with his wife and four other children.
He said Anwer Bhatkal had been working in Dubai for many years and was in touch with his family in Bhatkal till about a year ago. The family said they had learnt from relatives and others that Anwar had disappeared from Dubai about a year ago.
“We have no information about his death. As far as we know, he is still working in Dubai. He could not have died. The message must be a prank,’’ said Beli. He said his son was working in Dubai as a taxi driver, after earlier working in Kuwait.
“Many people have been calling us and asking us if our son has died. We have no information on his death. We would be grateful if someone would let us know,’’ said Beli.
Beli said he fell out with his son after he married a woman of his choice in Dubai three years ago. The couple had no children after two failed pregnancies, he said.
The family, which traces its origins to the Malabar region of Kerala, has been living in Bhatkal for four generations. Anwar Bhatkal, the eldest of four sons and a daughter, drove auto-rickshaws and mini-trucks in Bhatkal before moving to Kuwait about eight years ago.
“We did not know about his involvement in any illegal activities until a couple of months ago when the NIA came here and said he was wanted in a terrorism case. Notices were issued proclaiming him as an absconder at that time,’’ said Beli.
Police sources said Anwer Bhatkal had distanced himself from his family as he was intent on becoming a martyr for the cause of radical Islam. Police have identified him as a distant relative of Indian Mujahideen founder Riyaz Bhatkal.