‘Terror chief’ is teacher who named his niece after ‘right path’https://indianexpress.com/article/news-archive/web/terror-chief-is-teacher-who-named-his-niece-after-right-path/

‘Terror chief’ is teacher who named his niece after ‘right path’

Chhattisgarh Police say SIMI man carried out Bodhgaya and Patna blasts.

The Chhattisgarh Police have claimed that they have cracked the Bodhgaya and Patna blasts cases,arrested the chief planner of the attacks,and “completely eliminated” a SIMI module that planned the bombings.

Police have,however,failed to establish any link between this group and the Indian Mujahideen (IM),and stressed that “at present it seems it was an independent SIMI faction”.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA),with whom the Chhattisgarh Police claimed to have worked,had earlier named Haider Ali alias Abdullah as the “mastermind” of the two Bihar bombings. However,the Chhattisgarh Police have claimed that “Haider Ali actually worked under Raipur-based Umer Siddiqui”.

Umer Siddiqui was among eight men arrested by the Chhattisgarh ATS last week. The police have now claimed that Siddiqui has confessed to having been the leader of the terror module.

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“Umer has told us that he planned Patna and Bodh Gaya blasts. Haider Ali used to report to him,” DGP Ramniwas told a press conference he addressed in Raipur along with ADG (Intelligence) Mukesh Gupta,Raipur IG G P Singh and DIG (Intelligence) Dipanshu Kabra on Wednesday.

Siddiqui,a 35-year-old private tutor,had been arrested hours after the BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi addressed a rally here on November 14. Modi was the target of the terror module,the police said. “Umer has admitted that their plan was to attack Modi’s rallies. He and Haider had conducted a recce of Modi’s rallies in Kanpur,Delhi and Ambikapur and prepared the maps,” the DGP said.

According to Ramniwas,Siddiqui had confessed that “if an attack on the rally did not materialise,they would use a human bomb to target Modi”.

On Thursday,the family of Siddique completely rejected the police’s claims and said that leave alone planning a terrorist attack,he had not even slapped anyone in his life.

At the family’s home in Raipur’s Raja Talab area,Siddiqui’s 10-year-old niece announced her name proudly,adding that it had been given by her uncle. “Urooj-Hooda,” said the Class 4 student,as her aunt — Siddiqui’s wife — Saima Fatima stressed the spelling: “Urooj,not Uruj.” The little girl explained what Urooj-Hooda meant: “A girl who gives the right guidance,shows the right path.”

This niece was among over 500 children of the family and neighbourhood that the alleged mastermind of the Patna and Bodhgaya attacks named. Siddiqui has a PhD in Urdu from Nagpur University and a good command over English. Along with his three brothers,he ran the Siddiqui Coaching Centre at their home,teaching various subjects up to the college level.

For 15 of his 35 years,Siddiqui had been a teacher,said the family. His students remembered him as essentially a preacher of moral values,and said they found it difficult to believe that he could be a terrorist.

Among the family’s neighbours,however,no overt outpouring of sympathy was visible. Most appeared to have no strong view on his arrest,and were not willing to reject the police’s allegations altogether.

“Jamaat-e-Islami people misuse Islam,” said a Muslim lawyer who lives next door to the Siddiquis,referring to the family’s religious affiliation. “They are mostly behind all such acts and give all Muslims a bad name. I would not be surprised at all if these charges are proved correct,” said the lawyer.

Several namazis at the Raja Talab mosque confirmed that the Siddiqui family lived separately from the entire neighbourhood,and said they could not vouch for their innocence.

But Siddiqui’s father Shafiq Siddiqui told The Indian Express that being staunch followers of their faith did not mean they were terrorists.

“Yes,we are staunch followers of Islam. People misunderstand us because we follow the right Islam. We never touch sharaab and haraam ki kamaai (alcohol and ill-gotten money),” Shafiq said.

Siddiqui’s wife Saima said: “My husband was the most learned man here,he did nothing except read books. Agar hamare ghar mein Urdu,Arabic sahitya nahi milega to kya milega?” The family denied the police claim that they had sheltered the Patna blast accused.

Told about the police claim that he had been under close surveillance for three years,Siddiqui’s elder brother Ishaq said,“If they were really following him for so long,how come they learnt about all his activities only now?”

Umer,who was born on January 21,1978,was the brightest of his four brothers,the father said. The family has a solid background: father Shafiq retired from the PHE department,mother Salim Haidari worked with the education department,and Ishaq is a government teacher.

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“We have been in government service for three generations. Do you think we would ever indulge in such a thing,” Shafiq said.