LAST SUNDAY, a day before he was arrested in Delhi for suspected links with al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), Mohammad Asif reportedly called up his wife, Afia Begum, in Sambhal and asked her to hand over his cellphone to an “unknown person”. That was the last time she heard from him. Days later, she came to know about his arrest.
Stating that Asif had been falsely implicated, Afia said: “I saw on news channel that the Delhi Police claimed to have recovered a laptop from him. But he does not have any laptop.”
Asif earlier worked as an accountant at a shop in Mohalla Deepa Sarai area of Sambhal. In 2013, he left his job and decided to go to Saudi Arabia. The family reportedly sold one of their ancestral houses to fund his trip. He returned after a year.
“When he returned, he fell ill and never went back. He resumed his job as an accountant… we were happy. But we later realised that he had changed. He kept to himself,” said Afia.
“For the last one year, he was staying with us in our village… Now, the Delhi Police is claiming that he is a member of the AQIS,” she said.
Asif’s ancestral home is barely 200 metres away from AQIS chief Sanaul Haq’s house in Sambhal.
His 74-year-old father and a younger brother live in the ancestral house, while his wife and two children — a 10-year-old son and a seven-year-old daughter — live in a one-room accommodation in the same area.
“We are staying in a rented accommodation. About two months ago, my husband took a loan of Rs 80,000 from our relatives for my surgery,” said Afia.
“He was constructing a house on our ancestral land, but work had stopped due to lack of funds. But the Delhi Police is claiming that he received huge funds,” said Mohammad Sadiq, Asif’s younger brother.
While Sadiq, a tailor, has a shop in the village, his two other brothers are settled in Abu Dhabi and Ahmedabad.