Mohammed Sajid, a suspected Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) operative arrested by police from east Delhi on Tuesday night, was a quiet person who did not socialise much and generally kept to himself, his neighbours said.
The neighbours of Sajid, in Gokulpuri’s congested Chand Bagh area, with whom IANS spoke said Sajid, 21, had few friends and he was hardly seen interacting in the neighbourhood.
Sajid was among three suspected JeM operatives arrested by Delhi Police Tuesday night. The other two were Shakir Ansari from Deoband and Sameer from Loni in Ghaziabad.
Police said the three were planning a Pathankot-style attack in Delhi and neighbouring areas.
Sajid’s elder sister Tabassum told IANS that he was arrested from outside the nearby Fatima Masjid when he was returning home after offering namaz.
“We are being targeted. My brother is innocent. He cannot be involved in any illegal activity,” she said.
Asked how her brother had got burn injuries on his palm, Tabassum said: “He had a quarrel with his younger sister on Monday night and during that boiling milk fell on his hand.”
“It is not the burn marks of an IED blast,” she claimed.
Police suspect an Improvised Explosive Device accidentally went off while Sajid was trying to assemble it in his room, which he used to run a tailor shop.
Naseem, wife of Sajid’s elder brother, told IANS that police did not allow them to look into his room while they were conducting their search. Sajid’s house, a three-storey narrow structure, is in the crowded working class locality of Chand Bagh.
“We are 14 members in this house. How can a 21-year-old youth take the risk of keeping such explosives at home? There was no suspicious object in his room when they (police) broke in. They didn’t allow the family members to be present. We were confined in our rooms,” Naseem told IANS.
Along with Sajid, five other suspects with alleged links to JeM were taken into custody for questioning on Tuesday night.
Sajid and five others — Mohammad Imran, 24, Imran Saifi, 32, Mohammad Azeem, 18, Mohshin Khan, 32 and Iqbal, 20 — live within a radius of half a kilometre to each other in Chand Bagh locality.
Mohsin Khan resides just 50 metres away from Sajid’s house.
Mohsin Khan’s elder brother Shahzad said his sibling had “nothing to do with this case”.
“He used to sell ladies items and did not have enough time even to attend family functions,” Shahzad told IANS.
He also said that Mohsin has two three-year-old twin girls and he used to play with them after returning from work.
Questioning the police action, Shahzad said: “My brother hardly met anyone in the area. How can he be involved with any illegal activity? His going out was restricted mostly to offering prayers at the mosque.”
Shahzad alleged that Delhi Police team did not allow his brother to even wear his slippers when they took him away.
Mohsin’s neighbour Rahoof told IANS that he was not a tech savvy person.
“He did not even have a mobile phone as he hardly earned Rs.250-300 per day. How can he be part of any social media messaging group on phone?” he asked.
According to sources, the suspects kept in touch with each other via social messaging app, and also shared information on how to assemble IED bombs.
Neighbours of two other suspects, Azeem and Imran, also voiced surprise at their being picked up by police.
“Azeem can’t be a terrorist as he remains ill. He hardly used to come out of his house,” his neighbour Ishthakaar said.
Most of the young men detained by police are in their 20s. Neighbours said they had never seen them together.
“We had never seen them together in the locality,” said a neighbour of Sajid who did not wish to be named.
The other five suspects detained that night live nearby in east Delhi’s Gokulpuri locality.
A Delhi court on Wednesday sent the three arrested JeM suspects to police custody for ten days.