Himayat never looked like he had jihadi sentiments, says his brother

Mirza Himayat Inayat Baig, a prime accused in the German Bakery blast case, is a man of multiple identities.

A visit to Beed, his hometown and Udgir, the place where the German Bakery Blast plan was allegedly hatched, revealed that he was a silent man who kept to himself and none of his close associates knew of his doings.

“We only knew he had finished his D.Ed. and he was working in Pune. We assumed he was a teacher. We are not educated enough, neither did we ever feel the need to ask him what exactly he was doing,” Himayat's brother Tareekh told The Hindu.

“He visited us a couple of days before Ramzan, and promised us he would come home for Eid,” Inayat Baig, father of Tareekh and Himayat, said. Inayat said that he didn't speak to Himayat much. “We knew nothing about what he was doing. He would not talk much even at home,” he said.

Tareekh said, “If we knew, we would have never sent him to Pune. He is a normal child.” Asked whether they felt the Muslim community was being targeted, Tareekh stated that the police were cornering the poor. “These arrests never happen in big families. Why are poor people like us always made a scapegoat?” he asked. “David Headley was caught but he was sent off. Innocent people like us are at the mercy of the police.”

“If we were guilty we would have closed our shop and gone into hiding. Himayat himself would have never come here after the blast. Why would he risk himself and us if he was not innocent?” he stated.

“If police are alleging that he went to Pakistan and Sri Lanka, what were the security forces doing at that time? How can a simple man like Himayat cross borders so easily? That means there is a failure of the intelligence forces, too,” Tareekh pointed out.

Asked if they had spoken to Himayat about the blasts, as Himayat was in Pune when the blasts happened, they replied in the negative. “We barely spoke to him on the phone. He only visited us once in two months and barely kept any contact other than that,” Inayat said.

Tareekh also said that Himayat never looked like he had jihadi sentiments. “He is not from those types”, he said. “Everyone knows the injustice on Muslims and where it is being done. That doesn't mean everybody does something about it,” he said.

Planning in Pune

In Udgir in the adjacent Latur distrct, where Himayat ran the Global Internet Café, and where the blast plan was allegedly hatched, his roommate from Pune's Azad Campus, Ashfaq spoke to The Hindu. “He used to say that Muslims have always been subjected to injustice. We must do something to oppose it,” Ashfaq said.

Ashfaq was questioned by the ATS for the fifth time in Udgir, where the ATS is stationed now.

Ashfaq had lived with Himayat for a year, and the latter had kept in contact with him over the next five years. Interrogations had revealed that Baig had got the other accused in the blast case, Bilal, to the Azam Campus hostel room quite often. Inspector (ATS) Sudhakar Reddy of the Nanded unit had been trying to coax more information out of Ashfaq. “I don't know anything about this, Sir. When he tried to provoke me, I was rude to him and told him I had come to Pune to study and not for such activities. I do not believe in violence against anyone. I am a teacher. I teach my children to say that all Indians are my brothers and sisters,” he told Mr. Reddy.

Inamuddin Syed, who lived with Himayat in 2008 for three months in Udgir's Madina Mosque, was also questioned by the ATS. “He told me his name was Ahmed, and that he was from Parbhani. He used to keep to himself and was very irritable. When I asked him what he did all day, he said ‘don't ask me these questions. That is none of your business.' He left the mosque at 10 a.m. and returned at 12.30 or 1 in the night. But he had told me he sits at the cyber café,” Syed said.

In Udgir town, the situation is tense, as the people are still recovering from the fact that this was the place where the blast perpetrator allegedly lived and worked, and the plan master minded.

In Udgir's Azad Nagar where Himayat lived from November to February 2010, Tanveer Khadri is a worried man. He had rented his house to Haus Shaikh, who ran tuition classes for underprivileged kids. Himayat lived with Haus. “Himayat had told us he is from Parbhani. He did not talk much. I even saw him teaching computers to the children. But we could have never suspected that something so sinister was brewing under his silent exterior. One man has spoilt the name of our city and our community,” Khadri said.

“Someone who is involved in such activities is not a Muslim at all. He has no religion,” he stated.

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