Anantnag: The south Kashmir-based families of two youths arrested on charges of being Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) militants by the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of Uttar Pradesh (UP) Police, have strongly refuted the allegations of the ATS. Family members of both youths said that they were innocent and had no militant links whatsoever.
“They are being framed in the aftermath of the Pulwama attack,” their family members said.
Nawaz Ahmad Teeli, son of Ghulam Hassan of Yaripora, Kulgam, and Auqib Ahmad Malik, son of Muhammad Akbar Malik of Babgam Pulwama, were apprehended in the wee hours of Friday from the seminary town of Deoband in UP.
Following the arrests, the police in UP alleged that the two were residing in Deoband without admission to any course of study and were sent to recruit militants for the JeM.
“From each of them the ATS has retrieved .32 pistols, along with cartridges,” Director General (DG) of UP Police, OP Singh, told the media on Friday afternoon.
He said that “Jihadi chats, videos and images have also been retrieved from their mobile phones.”
The two Kashmiri youths are being taken to Lucknow, the capital of UP, on transit remand.
Their families in Kulgam and Pulwama districts of south Kashmir told Kashmir Reader that the charges levelled against Nawaz and Auqib were baseless.
Nawaz’s family in Nunmai village of Yaripora Kulgam said that he was studying at the Deoband seminary for the past more than two years and was pursuing Faziliyat.
“He is religious minded and wanted to pursue higher religious studies. That, I guess, has now become his undoing,” Nawaz’s brother Waqar Ahmad told Kashmir Reader.
He said that his brother never had any militant connections nor was ever booked even for stone pelting.
“How did he become a militant overnight?” asked Waqar. “I think he is being made a scapegoat following the Pulwama attack,” he added.
Son of a carpenter, Nawaz worked very hard and despite meagre resources completed his graduation in arts before venturing into religious studies, Waqar said.
“Our whole village is shocked. He is a known orator here and no one in the area can believe that he has been booked for militant links. He has no such leanings,” Waqar said.
Auqib’s family in Babgam area of Pulwama was equally shocked. “His mother, Hajra, is in deep shock at her son’s arrest. She has not eaten anything since morning,” Ishfaq Ahmad, a cousin of Auqib, told Kashmir Reader.
Ishfaq said that Auqib has no militant connections and has never been booked for any subversive activities.
“He is a simple religious man and wanted to pursue studies in the domain of his interest,” Ishfaq said, adding that Auqib was pursuing an informal distance-learning course at Deoband seminary called “Samaa’t” in religious parlance.
Auqib’s father, Muhammad Akbar, made an emotional appeal to the Governor and the UP Police, while vouching for the innocence of his son.
“He is innocent and has nothing to do with militancy. I appeal to the Governor to take up the matter with the UP Police and make sure that a fair investigation is carried out into this matter,” he said.
The father said he was sure that a fair investigation would prove that his son was innocent and had no militant links whatsoever.
The families have also contacted the local police with their pleas. “They (police) have told us that they are in touch with their counterparts in UP Police,” the families said.