‘Zakir requested my father for documents to collect Rs 50,000 as he didn’t have his Aadhaar card’

“He did not have sufficient money to feed himself. So almost every fortnight, he would come to our house to eat and without talking much, he left,” said his wife.

A RELATIONSHIP struck while feeding the poor and homeless during the lockdown and opening of his home in the middle of the night to shelter his acquaintance, landed Irfan Rehmat Ali Shaikh in the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad’s (ATS) net according to his family members.

Fifty-year-old Mohammed Irfan Rehmat Ali Shaikh, a tailor by profession, who resides at Kherwadi road in Bandra was arrested by the Maharashtra ATS on September 30. He is the third person to be arrested so far in an alleged terror plot that was busted after the Delhi Police Special Cell claimed to have busted a six-man terror module on September 14.

The Maharashtra ATS has claimed that Irfan was arrested for harbouring one Zakir Hussain Shaikh. Irfan is accused of facilitating Zakir’s communication with handlers sitting in a foreign country and allowing his documents to be used to beget finances through international money transfers.

Irfan’s family, however, claims that he was just being helpful to a man with whom he had gotten acquainted during the lockdown while he was helping the poor in the area.

“There was a group of people, who would distribute food to the poor and homeless during the lockdown last year. My husband was part of this group. It was while conducting this social work that he got acquainted with Zakir,” said Irfan’s wife. She claimed that Zakir, who made a living driving an auto-rickshaw, seemed to come from a poor financial background and would at times drop into their house for food.

“He did not have sufficient money to feed himself. So almost every fortnight, he would come to our house to eat and without talking much, he left,” said his wife.

Zakir had also requested Irfan to collect money that was going to be wired to him by one of his relatives on his behalf Rs 50,000 was sent to Irfan through Western Union which his family claimed was handed over to Zakir. The police have claimed that this money was sent via the United States of America and was meant to fund terror activities.

“Zakir had told my father that one of his relatives was going to help him financially as he was in serious need of money. He told my father that the money was going to be wired and as he did not have an Aadhaar card he was having difficulty in receiving that amount. He then requested my father if he could share his documents, including his Aadhar card and collect money on his behalf. My father agreed. The money arrived and my father handed it to Zakir,” Irfan’s son said.

His family claims that they did not find anything wrong with Zakir’s behaviour till September 17 when he knocked on their door at 4.45 am. “There was a loud banging on our door at 4.45 am. My husband opened the door to find Irfan standing outside. He said that there was some problem and requested us to allow him to sleep on the mezzanine floor, which is my husband’s workshop,” Irfan’s wife said.

Subsequently, in the morning after waking up, Zakir used Irfan’s phone to make a call. “When my husband asked him where his phone is, he told us that he had been robbed,” she added.

Hours later, the Mumbai ATS landed at Irfan’s home and arrested Zakir. The ATS moved in after being informed by the Delhi Special Cell that Jaan Mohamed Shaikh, one of the six men arrested by them was instigated and sent by Zakir.

Nearly two weeks after Zakir’s arrest, the Mumbai ATS arrested Irfan too on September 30.

“We opened up our home thinking that we were helping a poor person in need. I did not know that being hospitable and helpful would land us into so much trouble,” Irfan’s wife said.


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