LUCKNOW: IN a joint operation, the Uttar Pradesh police and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Tuesday picked up two youth — Asif Iqbal (26) and Mohammad Atif (27) — from Kanpur district for allegedly planning terror acts.
Believed to be associated with an Islamic State-related module, traces of which were recently found in Kanpur, Asif Iqbal is supposed to be the cousin of Saifiullah, the self-indoctrinated Islamic State (Khorasan) terror module operative who was gunned down on the outskirts of Lucknow by the UP Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) on March 7.
Both Atif and Asif used to stay in Manoharpur of Jajmau locality under Chakeri police station area of Kanpur and were well known to each other.
A team led by SP, NIA, Deepak Kumar, rounded up the duo on charges of waging war against the country from the Chakeri area around 4.15 pm. The duo was booked under IPC sections 121, 121A, 123, 124A and sections 16, 18, 23 and 38 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and would be produced at the designated court here on Wednesday.
However, crying foul over the arrests, Asif’s family said the two were framed as they were not willing to turn approvers in the court on the NIA’s insistence.
Atif’s elder brother Aquib said: “On May 3, we had approached advocate Mohammad Shoaib from Rihai Manch to help us. We had called the media and shared with it that the security agencies were mounting pressure on my brother Atif.”
The duo came under the radar of the intelligence agencies soon after the killing of Saifiullah in an encounter with UP ATS sleuths. Saifiullah was part of nine-member ‘Khorasan module’ which had its roots in Kanpur. The same module was held responsible for orchestrating the blast in the Bhopal-Ujjain passenger train on March 7.
Subsequent to Saifiullah’s killing, the UP ATS, Madhya Pradesh police and NIA in a joint operation, arrested eight others, including former air force employee Ghaus Mohammad, besides Mohammad Faizal and Mohammad Azhar. All three were acquainted with Saifiullah after they came in contact while visiting a mosque. They stayed together in Jajmau locality of Kanpur for some time.
Mohammad Shoaib said he had forwarded the representation on behalf of Asif and Atif to various government authorities on the threat looming over the duo.
“Being Saifiullah’s cousin Asif has been picked up by the intelligence and security agencies a number of times,” said Shoaib, who was camping in Kanpur.