The Pakistani traders,whose photographs were circulated by the police here and in Mumbai after an alert from the Intelligence Bureau that they were LeT operatives who had sneaked into Gujarat to carry out attacks on refineries in Jamnagar,on Friday said they were puzzled and shaken by the development.
At least three of these men claimed they work at Hafiz Centre,a mall in the the Gulberg area of Lahore. While two of them,Mehtab Butt and Atif Butt,own shops in the complex,the third man,Baber,works as a guard at the bustling mall that mainly has shops dealing in mobile phones and computers.
When contacted by The Indian Express on Friday,Mehtab and Atif said posters with their and other Hafiz Centre members photos were put up there on March 22 ahead of election for their unions office-bearers,which is due shortly.
Mehtab was busy dealing with customers at his shop number 26 LG at Hafiz Centre,Mouin Boulevard,Gulberg III in Lahore,when The Indian Express called him.
Atif was busy supervising his Sun Mobile,shop 25,just opposite to that of Mehbat. Baber was on duty guarding the mall.
This is the same photo I gave for the election posters. I think something went wrong from there on, said 40-year-old Mehtab.
Atif,however,did not remember ever being clicked in that pose,with his hair falling on his forehead.
I have no idea who took this shot of mine and when. All I can say is that it has been taken from a distance with heavy zooming, said the 30-year-old who runs mobile phone shop at the mall.
On the night of May 9,the three came to know through a Pakistani news channel that their photos had been circulated all over India as part of a terror alert.
A reporter from Duniya News,a prominent channel here,broke the news as they came to take our version, said Mehbat.
Later,after consulting our elders,we did a search on Internet only to find that whole of India was looking for us, he said.
Shaken by the episode,the three rushed to the Gulberg Police Station nearby,where they gave an affidavit to prove their innocence. They were allowed to leave a while later.
Atif said the development had left him scared. I fear travelling anywhere now with the label of a terrorist. We are planning to move the Lahore High Court to get our names cleared. India must also give us a clean chit. Its a blot on us, Atif said.