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People reject Sambhal terror tag

Sambhal: A small town in western UP is under the scanner of security agencies after police traced 6 suspected members of al Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) to a Muslim-majority locality.Police say AQIS chief Maulana Asim Umar alias Sanaul Haque - who is currently in Pakistan - hails from Sambhal, which has emerged as a possible new terror hub. The town - just 200 kilometres from Delhi - has a substantial number of expats in the West Asia, particularly Saudi Arabia, remitting huge amounts of cash. Ideologically driven, they make generous donations to seminaries. Sambhal now has 40 seminaries. 10 of them are in Deepa Sarai where the alleged AQIS members come from.But the people of Sambhal disprove the terror hub tag, calling the arrest of Asif and Zafar as part of a conspiracy to label the town as another Azamgarh. “My brother was a religious man. His children were his life,” said Asif’s brother Sadiq.”Allah jaane how agencies linked him to al Qaeda. He didn’t even have the money to pay school fee of his kids. And where is the evidence of his travelling to Afghanistan and Pakistan for training?”Shafiqur Rehman Barq, who represented Sambhal in the assembly and Lok Sabha 4 times each, blamed BJP for tarnishing the image of Sambhal and Muslims. “It was their (BJP) policy to weaken the unity of Muslims by implicating them in false cases and derive political benefits from the community’s state of confusion,” he said. State minister and local MLA Nawab Iqbal Mehmood called it a conspiracy. But BJP’s district president Rajesh Singhal said instead of criticising the police, the minister should have demanded action against those involved in “terrorist activities”.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 July 2016 on page no. 14

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