"We could not say anything to our son when we met him in court. What do we tell you?" said Gulzar Ahmed, father of Zaid and Zubair Malik, who are among the 10 people arrested on suspicion of being members of an ISIS-inspired group allegedly planning suicide attacks in Delhi and other parts of north India.
Ahmed, sitting inside the chamber of his sons' lawyer at the Patiala House court on Thursday, refused to talk anymore to reporters scrambling to get his byte.
"We don't know what or how it happened. Yesterday, these people came, asked women to assemble in one room, picked them up. However, they did not misbehave with us," a relative accompanying Ahmed said, explaining the circumstances under which Zaid and Zubair were arrested by NIA on Wednesday.
"We know as much as you know through the news. We could not say anything to them (the investigators) as we are working people," the relative added.
Relatives of other people arrested in connection with the terror plot also seemed clueless why their loved ones were being treated as "terrorists".
They said there was an atmosphere of fear in their locality in Zafarabad in Delhi.
A neighbour of Anas Yunus, a civil engineering student arrested on Wednesday, accompanied his family to the court. He said, "We were woken up around 5 am due to the commotion in the locality as hundreds of men marched through the area. Their vehicles had been parked on the main road. After the raids, our children are scared whether they will also be arrested like this. Ek darr ka mahaul hai."
The relatives of most of the accused said their children are "innocent" and were living a normal life until now.
Zafar, another accused, is unmarried and was in the garment business, his uncle Iqrar Ahmed said.
"All we know is none of them are involved in any such activity as specified by them (NIA). What more can I say? All we know is that the raid started around 4 am. They came inside the house, picked him up without telling us anything.
It was shocking. It's better to remain silent. We have been consulting lawyers. We will go by what lawyers and the court say. Rest is fate," he added.
Mufti Mohammed Suhail alias Hazrath, who has been identified as the group's founder by the NIA, married in August last year. He had been working as a cleric at a madrasa on Hakim Mahtab Uddin Hashmi Road in Amroha in Uttar Pradesh, said one of his uncles.
"A lot has been said about Suhail's involvement. Unfortunately, he has been highlighted the most. It is also being said that he went to Syria. He has never stepped outside Amroha. We have copies of his passport and he has never travelled abroad. He has no such involvement. There is no truth to what they (the investigators) have claimed," said his uncle.
Suhail's cousin said they have been asked by their lawyer to not talk to the media and they are scared after the raids on Wednesday.
"Police just barged into the home, broke open the doors. All members of the family were sent outside. They started their search early in the morning around 4 am. They continued searching till 12 noon. The house was completely tuned upside down by them but they did not find any substantial evidence," he said.
His uncle said, "We could just see him for seconds inside the courtroom. Through hand gestures we asked him if he was fine; he signalled us in affirmation."
The relatives had arrived much before the scheduled court hearing at 2.30 pm and were waiting anxiously to get a glimpse of their loved ones.
After the court proceedings, the judge allowed family members of seven accused — Mufti Mohammed Suhail alias Hazrath (29), Anas Yunus (24), Rashid Zafar Raq alias Zafar (23), Zubair Malik (20), Zubair's brother Zaid (22), Saqib Iftekar (26), and Mohammed Azam (35) — to meet them in the courtroom.
However, Raq's family could not meet him due to a lack of original identity proof while all others produced the documents.
The NIA has said it busted a suspected ISIS-inspired terror group with the arrest of the 10 persons. It has said the suspects were planning suicide attacks and serial blasts targeting politicians and government installations in Delhi and other parts of north India.
A locally made rocket launcher, material for suicide vests and 100 alarm clocks, to be used as timers, were seized during the searches in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.
Five of the accused have been arrested from Amroha and five from two areas in Delhi.
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