The story has been cooked up to create doubt in the minds of people, says Delhi Police Special Commissioner

Mustafa Landge is a man with no answers. The questions, though, haven’t stopped since the day the Special Cell of the Delhi Police picked up his son Irfan in connection with the Pune blasts of August 1.

While the Special Cell announced on October 17 that they had arrested Irfan from Jaipur on October 10, Mr. Landge has alleged that he was picked up from Thane on October 5. The police have claimed that Irfan (30) along with three others arrested previously, is a part of the Indian Mujahideen (IM) module and conspired along with IM head Yasin Bhatkal to plan the Pune blasts.

“On October 5, Irfan was with his brother-in-law Mazhar Inamdar in Thane when an officer, who identified himself as Inspector Hriday Bhushan of the Special Cell of Delhi Police, took him away in a police van. He told Mazhar to wait for further instructions, and specifically warned him not to tell the media,” Mr. Landge, the 60-year-old retired BSNL official, stated. “This is just the beginning of a very long struggle,” he told The Hindu on Friday afternoon.

Mr. Landge said that on October 8, he was told to come to the Juhu Beach along with Irfan’s father-in-law and two more persons of the family. “We met Inspector Hriday Bhushan who verified our identity and then took us to a hotel called Navotel in Juhu. There were three more police officers present there: ACP Manish Chandra, ACP Sanjeev Yadav and ACP Lalit Mohan Negi. They told me that my son was in their custody and if I didn’t co-operate they could deport him to Nepal or Pakistan, or even kill him in an encounter.”

It was at this meeting that Mr. Landge learnt that Asad Khan, his daughter Gauhar’s husband, was also in the custody of the Delhi Police. “They told me not to mention any of this to anybody else. They told me ‘Your co-operation will be good for you and your family’,” he said.

The exact definition of the ‘co-operation’ though, was not conveyed to Mr. Landge. “Maybe they just wanted me to keep shut about the arrests,” he said. Mr. Landge stated that Asad and Irfan worked together, often arranging pilgrimage trips to Mecca for people in Maharashtra.

Two days later, on October 10, the date of Irfan’s arrest according to the police, Mr. Landge was asked by Inspector Bhushan to come to Delhi immediately. “I was at the Pune airport to catch a flight. But then, I spoke to some lawyers who persuaded me not to go. I wanted to fight this battle legally. I received a call from the police again, saying that they knew I had changed my mind,” he said.

The very next day, the Special Cell announced that they had cracked the case and arrested three persons allegedly responsible for the Pune blasts. One of them was Asad Khan, his son-in-law. The second person, Feroz Syed, was also known to Asad and Irfan, through their business, he said.

“I don’t know who Imran Khan of Nanded is,” he said. “It was then that I got really scared about Irfan and decided to go public,” he said. “I got a call from Inspector Bhushan again saying I had gone against his instructions. But I told him that I wanted to follow the legal route hereafter.”

The news of Irfan’s arrest came on October 17 — the same day Irfan spoke to him. “He told me that I should have gone to the media. But I felt it was the police making him say that,” he said.

“I feel entangled. I cannot do anything. I fear, both for my daughter Gauhar and my daughter-in-law,” Mr. Landge said. He stated that Irfan had grown up in a religious atmosphere and would not do anything to harm anybody. “I give talks about the Quran and its teachings in front of huge public gatherings all around Maharashtra that comprise mostly of Hindus. My motive is to tell people that Islam does not teach violence,” he stated.

“All I can do now is raise my voice. I hope my questions and prayers get answered,” he said.

Inspector Bhushan did not respond to calls and text messages from The Hindu. Special Commissioner of the Delhi Police (Special Cell) S.N. Srivastava said, “The story has been cooked up to create doubt in the minds of people. The Delhi Police team had been raiding various hideouts and was able to arrest Irfan in Jaipur.”

(With inputs from Devesh Pandey in New Delhi)