‘We have come up the hard way... when such a thing happens, you wonder why’

NAT

Their small, cramped homes are all linked by the narrow lanes of the Old Hubli town. The parents of some went to school together, worked in government offices together, or went to the same mosques. Many of the boys went to the same Hubli colleges. Some shared a room in Bangalore, 405 km away, when they took fledgling steps to careers.

A terrorism investigation has arrested the dreams of several Muslim families from the small north Karnataka town of Hubli. In swoops in Hubli and Bangalore on August 29 and 30, and for what is still a hazy terror plot, the Bangalore Central Crime Branch (CCB) arrested 12 youths — seven in Bangalore and five in Hubli — all aged between 20 and 29. Eleven were from Hubli and one from nearby Davangere.

The primary accusation by the police — while invoking the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, the Arms Act and Indian Penal Code sections for criminal conspiracy, waging war against the country, attempt to murder and theft — is that the youths were planning to kill two right wing-inclined journalists and three right-wing politicians. Investigations by police and security agencies have, however, revolved around the alleged travel to Pakistan by two of the arrested, and around communications with shadowy Gulf-based figures with links to global terror networks.

In the communally sensitive town of Hubli, the stories of the lives of the 12 arrested youths, many of whom were the first in their families to achieve any kind of educational success, are also about the shattered hopes of these families, and anout their disbelief about the accusations.

The Indian Express spoke to the families of 11 of the 12 accused in Hubli.

Ajaz Ahmed Mirza, 25

Junior scientist at DRDO's Centre for Airborne Systems, Bangalore

Shoaib Ahmed Mirza, 23

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