Mohammad Alam squinted as he tried to string a thread through the sewing machine’s needle in a rundown wooden stall in Doranda, Ranchi. He is the father of Hyder Ali, suspected to have been part of one of three teams of two persons each who had carried bombs to Patna by bus on October 26 along with Tehseen Akhtar. The 50-year-old has polio in both legs, and has lived alone since Hyder left the house over two years ago.
Mohammad Alam said Hyder, second child among his three daughters and two sons, left home soon after he finished an intermediate course, or class XII, in Doranda. He put Hyder’s age at between 19 and 21 years. All of Mr. Alam’s children live in Bihar and with his wife, after the two separated over 10 years and he supports himself mending clothes earning Rs. 2500-Rs. 3000 every month.
“I had a small tailoring shop near the Jain temple five km from here. Four years ago, Hyder came to study intermediate in Doranda collegeafter completing class X from his maternal grandmother’s house in Aurangabad in Bihar. In 2010-11, I went through such a difficult time that I was not able to pay a Rs. 300 monthly rent for three months. The landlord asked me to leave but I tried to negotiate. Hyder got so upset and left the house and did not come back for days,” recounted Alam. “He returned once a few days later and asked me to shift the shop to this place in Hathitola. I resisted but he threatened saying that he will throw away all things in my shop if I did not move to this new location. Then I moved. He did not return home after that,” said Alam.
Mohammad Alam narrated his unsuccessful struggle to get a “laal card”, a red Public Distribution System card which entitles extremely poor families to 35 kg subsidised grain every month. He said he ate on days he earned Rs. 80-100, otherwise he would be on an empty stomach.