BHATKAL: Last week’s police action against four terror suspects from this town has left in its wake much uncertainty.
Express visited Bhatkal, in Uttara Kannada district, and spoke to several people, including friends and relatives of the arrested men, to understand the ground situation.
One of the four arrested is scrap dealer Saddam Hussein. He is now in the custody of the Bengaluru police. His neighbour Mohammed Shabbir said their area, Shedkolihonda, was populated by the poor, and the arrested man’s family was no exception.
“They can’t afford even one meal a day,” he said. Many like Shabbir want to help the family but are scared of the police. Shabbir is mobilising funds and food. “The family has not paid rent for four months and his children are falling ill,” he said. Police picked up Saddam Hussein’s friend Mohamad Asif on January 8. “Some men came in an Innova and asked for directions 200 yards from Saddam’s house. Before we could say anything, they bundled us into the vehicle and drove us away,” he said.
He says he was blindfolded. “I was kept in a separate room and released a little later. Before dropping me back, they made me sign some papers,” he told Express.
Asif says Saddam Hussein was fond of cricket and gilli-danda, games he used to play after work. For a livelihood, Saddam Hussein used to collect scrap on his cycle and sell it to bigger scrap shops, his father Firoz Khan told Express.
On the day he was arrested, Saddam Hussein was busy distributing invitations to his sister’s wedding.
“The wedding is on January 28. We do not know what to tell people,” Firoz Khan said. “Saddam’s four-year-old son who has fever keeps asking for him. We don’t know what to do.”
Dr Syed Ismail Afaq (34), Saddam Hussein (35) and Abdus Suboor (25) were arrested on January 8. Riyaz Ahmed Sayeedi (32) was arrested two days later. Sayeedi was detained at Mangaluru airport. A hardware merchant in Dubai, he was in India to attend the wedding of a relative and see his daughter, just 29 days old.
That Saturday, he left for Mangaluru, with his wife’s elder sister and two of his children accompanying him.
He had to board the 11.30 pm flight. The family waved him goodbye and left. At 11 am the next day, the family received a call from his roommates in Dubai saying Sayeedi had not reached yet.
After this call, the police raided his house and started rummaging it. “We were perplexed. Later, a neighbour said a TV channel had flashed the news that Riyaz had been arrested,” said Nafisa Sayeedi, his younger sister.
On hearing the news, his father-in-law Abdus Salam suffered a stroke, she told Express. He is now being treated at a Mangaluru hospital.
She said the investigation should be fair. “Once a reputation is damaged, it cannot be restored,” she said.
FIFTH Youth Innocent: Cops
Bengaluru: A youth from Bhatkal who was detained from BTM Layout on Friday and was suspected to be associated with terror outfits, was let off by the police due to lack of evidence. The police took him into custody due to suspicious activities, but after thorough questioning, it was learnt that he has no connection with any terror group. The police initially suspected that he was into hawala transactions for other terror suspects who have been arrested.