April 22, 2017 5:39:29 am
Zainab had last spoken to her husband Faizan past 10 on Wednesday night. Tired from nursing their 22-day-old child, she had told him she was going to sleep. He had promised to be home after morning prayers. Six hours later, Faizan, or Mufti Faizan as he is known in Badapur where he is the imam in a masjid, was one of four people arrested by the Uttar Pradesh ATS for allegedly planning anti-national activities.
The arrests were the result of a joint operation. Faizan was arrested outside the masjid for allegedly being involved in arranging for arms and inciting communal sentiments. It was common for Faizan to visit his family once a week in Alipurajat village. The rest of the time he managed the masjid and lived on the premises, 20 km away in Badapur, and drew a monthly salary of Rs 4,500.
Every night, he and Zainab would chat over the phone about his two daughters, the family said. “We had a doctor’s appointment on Thursday morning for me to get a tubectomy,” Zainab said. But Faizan never made it home. “I tried his phone over and over again. It had been switched off.” Her husband had a battered Nokia cellphone, she said. “Our older daughter had dropped it on the floor and you could barely see the numbers on the screen,” she said.
The family said Faizan’s life revolved around the mosque and he rarely went out of town. “He came home each week and would lie on the cot and talk to me,” said Zebanisha, his 50-year-old mother. Faizan is the fifth of her eight children. News about Faizan’s arrest reached his family on Thursday morning, several hours after he was picked up.
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It was not the police, but a group of villagers who dropped by to inform Faizan’s 61-year-old father Mohammad Farookh. “I was told about it because someone who was his student in our village also got arrested,” he said. Since then, Farookh has stayed updated through newspapers and television. “They say he was trading in arms but we have not heard anything from the police,” he said. At 7.15 pm on Friday, Farookh got a phone call from the parents of one of the men detained.
“Three people have apparently been let off after questioning,” he told a relative. “I have no way to confirm this.” Downstairs, Zainab began to cry, her newborn in her lap. “We used to talk every day about our daughters and laugh about things like any other couple,” she said.
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