Maimuna Begum, 53, a mother of five and a real estate broker from G.M. Nagar near Ukkadam in Coimbatore, has been restless since the noon of October 23.
Ms. Begum claims to have contacted an inspector of the Coimbatore City Police after her sons Firoz Ismail, 27, and Muhammad Nawaz Ismail, 25, told her that they knew the owner of the car, which exploded in front of the Sangameswarar temple at Kottaimedu around 4 a.m. that day.
Jameesha Mubin, 29, the man who was driving the car and was killed in the blast, was known to the family and a friend of her two sons. According to her, the siblings had gone to Mubin’s house late on October 22 after he requested them to help in shifting between houses.
“It is I who asked them [Firoz and Nawas] to help Mubin shift between houses,” Ms. Begum told The Hindu at her house on Wednesday.
“Mubin came to the road in front of our house around 2 p.m. on October 22 and asked Firoz whether he could help him vacate his house, claiming he had cardiac ailments and was unable to lift heavy items. I told Mubin [whom she knew as she had bought school lesson guides from him for her sons] that I would send him at night. As Firoz was about to leave around 10 p.m., I also sent Nawaz along with him for support. Also, I asked them to take Riyas [Muhammad Riyas] along with them as they are thick friends,” she said.
According to her, the sons returned around 11.45 p.m. She came to know about the blast from conservancy workers in the area the next morning. “When my sons saw the news, they told me that the car that exploded looked like the one owned by Mubin. I contacted the inspector, who earlier worked with the National Investigation Agency and questioned Nawaz in 2016, and informed him about the previous night’s incidents. The inspector came to the bypass and asked them [sons] to show Mubin’s house. They showed the house,” she claimed.
However, on October 25, her sons were arrested after several rounds of questioning. Ms. Begum said her sons did not know Mubin’s house and his relative Muhammad Azharudheen took them to the house on the night of October 22 from a bakery at G.M. Nagar near Sungam-Ukkadam bypass. The police arrested Riyas, 27, Azharudheen, 23, and Muhammad Thalka, 25, along with Firos and Nawaz. Another suspect Afsar Khan, 28, was arrested on October 27.
“My son also went to help Mubin shift between houses as Firoz called him. He left around 10.15 p.m. and came after 11.30 p.m. When I called Riyas in between, he said he would come soon. He was taking care of the family with the meager salary he gets from work at a tool company,” said Junaida Begum, 44, mother of Riyas, also from G.M. Nagar.
Hasfath Biwi, mother of Thalha, also believed her son to be innocent. While the police have said it was Thalha who arranged Mubin the car used for the blast, Ms. Biwi told the media that her son merely sold the car to Mubin. According to her, Mubin paid ₹16,000 in the first installment and the remaining ₹10,000 after much delay and repeated follow-up.
When Firoz, Nawaz and Riyas asked Mubin why he asked their help to shift LPG cylinders and some packed items alone to the car and left bed and other household items in the rented house, which is around 350 metres from the temple, the latter allegedly told them that those items would be shifted the next morning.