For Mohammed Ubaid, originally from Amroha in Uttar Pradesh and a resident of Jafrabad in northeast Delhi for the last three decades, it came as an early-morning bolt from the blue. Around 5 am on Wednesday, 15 men arrived at their home and identified themselves as NIA officers.
“They assured us that we won’t be troubled and searched our two-storey house. They even checked the gas stove,” Ubaid said. He soon learnt that his younger brother, Mohd Suhail, 29, who studied in Deoband and began teaching in Amroha madrasa, was one of the men arrested on Wednesday.
According to Ubaid, Suhail started teaching in the madrasa two months ago. “At the end of their search, they took mobile phones from us — at least six (phones)…and our SIM cards, memory cards. There was a broken charger at home — they took that, too. My father used to run an inverter manufacturing shop and I work there now. NIA officials came to the godown and took two push-button circuits used in inverters,” he said.
According to the NIA, Suhail had tasked others to buy arms explosives and other accessories to prepare IEDs and pipe bombs. “I don’t understand what explosives they are talking about…they got nothing from our house,” Ubaid maintained.
At the home of another accused, Zafar, 22, in the same locality, his mother Sehnaz said NIA officials came at 4.30 am and did not allow anyone to enter or leave. Stating that the officials “behaved well”, she said, “We run a garment business, and six months ago we started another retail garment shop for Zafar. He used to sell men’s jackets procured from Jafrabad.”
Claiming that Zafar never took part in any “illegal activity”, Sehnaz said her son undertook the pilgrimage to Mecca a year ago. About Zafar’s alleged involvement, she said, “He is too young — he might have known the other accused, but I cannot believe he was involved in any terror activities. We don’t know what to do now.” His friend Aamir said Zafar has completed class XII and kept a beard. He added, “That is how people are identified these days — maybe that’s why the NIA picked him up.”
Another accused, Mohd Azam, 35, runs a medical shop in Jafrabad and stays with his wife and daughter. According to his nephew, Naved, the raid began at 4.30 am. The officials, he said, seized mobile phones, SIM cards and memory cards. Stating that Azam had gone to Mecca once, Naved said, “He knew Suhail, but not the others. The NIA also came to the medical shop and checked all medicines, but did not take anything from here.”
On NIA’s charge that Azam helped the mastermind in arranging weapons, Naved said, “My uncle was a peace-loving man. He did not know all this.” Brothers Zubair Malik and Zaid Malik’s father runs a business manufacturing and selling coolers and fan motors. While Zubair, 20, was a Delhi University student, Zaid, 22, worked with his father.
The NIA says the siblings were part of the terror conspiracy and were instrumental in procuring batteries, connectors, SIM cards on fake documents and mobilising funds to buy bomb-making material. A family member dismissed the allegations as false.
The family of accused Anas Yunus, 24, refused to speak. The NIA says he is pursuing Civil Engineering from Noida.