BHATKAL: Dr Syed Ismail Afaq, the terror suspect arrested by the city police recently, has a son barely two months old. When Express visited Bhatkal on Saturday, Afaq’s brother Imran Lanka revealed many little-known details about the doctor who is suspected by the police to be trained in bomb-making.
Afaq and his cousin Abdus Suboor were arrested from an apartment in Fraser Town on January 8. Police sources had told reporters that they had made the arrests on a tip-off about potential terror strikes on Republic Day.
As a private practitioner, Afaq had spent 10 years at his native place Bhatkal, a town on the Karnataka coast. “For eight months after that, he worked with a homeopathy chain in Bengaluru. He recently quit to start his own clinic,” said Lanka.
Afaq has three children — a daughter who is six-and-a-half, a son who has turned four, and another son who is just 50 days old.
Lanka is an MBA student at Anjuman Institute of Technology and Management, Bhatkal. “The family reached Bengaluru at 9.15 am (on January 8), and Afaq left home 45 minutes later. When his mother called him at 11 am, there was no response,” Lanka said. Suboor had left Afaq’s Bengaluru apartment to work on a college project. News soon broke that he had been arrested by the Central Crime Branch.
Afaq’s wife is from the Nawayat community, many of whom are settled in Pakistan. “It is not unusual. We have at least 30 such cases here,” said Lanka. Anyone who lives in India for five years can claim citizenship. Afaq had tried for three years to get her citizenship papers, Lanka said. Afaq was an excellent footballer and would sometimes volunteer to teach children in Bhatkal.
Abdus Suboor, the MBA student arrested with Afaq, is an enthusiastic entrepreneur. “He would advise us not to clamour for employment but to create a new business,” said Sarfraz Ahmed, his friend.
Suboor and Ahmed had bought a dairy farm for `1.5 lakh a year-and-a-half ago, and had been supplying fresh milk to about 200 homes. “We wanted to give our customers a chemical-free product. We had also put up a solar unit at Khazia Bungalow in Nawayat Colony. The building runs on solar power,” said Ahmed.
Their families wanted them to finish their studies and then take up business. “We have been friends for eight years,” Ahmed said. “If he’d had any such links, he would have told me.”
Mustaq Ahmed, vice-principal of Anjuman Institute, said the news about Suboor was disturbing. “The boy was simple and never showed aggression. In two decades, I have not come across any terror case at our institution.”
Majlise Islah Wo Tanzeem, a confederation of Islamic organisations in Bhatkal, is influential enough to determine election results. During the recent municipal elections, it made its recommendations clear. In 23 wards, 18 candidates picked by Tanzeem won. The town is called Little Arab because, as a resident said, “every second house has someone working in the Middle East.” Bhatkal also has about 100 mosques.