After Tunda left home, his wives and children also went missing
It's been two decades since the local police auctioned everything inside Abdul Karim Tunda's house in Ashok Nagar village of Pilkhuwa, about 20 kilometres from Ghaziabad — even the window grills and the wooden door. Tahira Begum, the sister of Tunda's first wife Zarina, now lives in the house with her family.
"It has only been a few years since the police stopped bothering us. Everyone assumed he was dead," she said. "We have suffered enough for his misdeeds. I don't want to see his face again... My husband was also arrested in a false case in the early '90s," she added.
Tahira said she has not seen Zarina since 1993, months after Tunda's belongings were auctioned. After Tunda fled the village, his two wives, Zarina and Mumtaz, and six children also suddenly went missing one night.
"There were seven people in the house. One morning, the door was open and the house was empty. We haven't heard from them since then. None of the neighbours saw them leaving the house. A year later, I shifted to this house," said Tahira.
Less than a kilometre away lives Tunda's younger brother Abdul Malik. Malik's children have only heard about "Tunda terrorist chacha". On Saturday, as he saw his brother on news channels, Malik confirmed that it was indeed Tunda.
"I had a fallout with my brother in 1991 and shifted to this house. His wives and children went missing one night and police claimed they were also hiding in Pakistan. Just a few days before Independence Day, some officials who claimed to be from the CBI came and asked me about Tunda's whereabouts," said Malik. "Let him be sent to jail first, I will go and meet him there. He has a lot of answering to do," he added.
Villagers blame Tunda for the years of harassment from law agencies. "We don't tell police that we are from Ashok Nagar, this place has earned a bad name because of him. We tell them that we are from the nearby Rampura village," said Iqbal, a resident.