NIA sleuths challenged in Bihar village

Despite being summer, the temperature is not too high at Barh Samaila, a Muslim-dominated village in Darbhanga, some 190 kilometres from the Patna.

But tempers run high on Tuesday after two plain clothes policemen, riding a bike, arrived there and asked the villagers the address of Mohammad Barkat, a retired teacher.

When quizzed, the cops told the villagers that they had come for a passport verification of Afzal, who was studying at the KTC Polytechnic College in Gulbarga in Karnataka. The information furnished by the men was partially correct. But it being a small village, spread over a radius of two kilometres. The locals, however, wondered when Afzal had not applied for passport how come the police had come for its verification.

When the villagers challenged the cops, the truth came out. They were looking for Afzal in a Delhi blast case (No: NIA/RC/06/12) in which the student (who though could not be located in Gulbarga), was required to depose as a witness under the Section 160.

Within minutes, hundreds of locals assembled there, as this was a repeat of a 2012 incident when 75-year-old Abdul Salam’s son Kafil Akhtar was picked up by the Karnataka Police from his house on the charge of his links with terrorists held in the Chinnaswamy Stadium blast case. The entire operation was carried out so secretly that even the Bihar Police had no inkling about what actually happened.

Since May 2012, the NIA and IB team have visited Darbhanga several times in search of Indian Mujahideen  (IM) modules who were brainwashed and trained by Yasin Bhatkal (now arrested) when he stayed in Darbhanga in the guise of an Ayurvedic doctor.

It now being a poll season, the cops-villagers confrontation would have taken a turn for worse. But the intervention by village elders saved the day. It was eventually agreed that Md Barkat would locate his fugitive son Afzal and produce him before the police by April 25.

The only plea the villagers put before the NIA sleuths was: “You have picked up many innocent youths in the name of interrogation for links with terrorists. We have no clue what happened to them. This should not continue anymore.”

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