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Patna terror accused was beaten up by villagers for his hardline ways

The four men alleged to be behind the Gandhi Maidan blasts followed the Ahle Haddis, a sect with Wahhabi leanings.

ABHIMANYU SINGH  Ranchi | 2nd Nov 2013

A bomb squad inspecting the spot during BJP's Hunkar rally in Patna on Sunday. PTI

hle Hadees, the religious sect to which all four men suspected of having carried out the Patna bomb blasts belonged, had attracted a small but vocal following in Sithio village near the Jharkhand capital. However, their activities were generally disliked for promoting an extreme form of Islam, which insisted on its superiority over other sects. Ahle Hadees is a sect with Wahhabi leanings.

It was Imtiaz Ansari, the eldest of the lot, who was the most active and claimed to be a proselytizer of the sect, according to reports in the local press. Imtiaz used to stay away from the village for days on end, claiming to be working for the sect. The boys who accompanied Imtiaz to Patna had travelled with him in the past. Taufiq, Tarique, and Nouman were in their teens and followed Imtiaz. Nouman and Taufiq have not been arrested and are missing while Tarique died at a hospital in Patna.

Sithio village lies on the outskirts of Ranchi, the state capital. It was an obscure village before the world woke up to the news of its inhabitants, all young men, having allegedly carried out a deadly bomb attack in Patna on the day the BJP's PM candidate Narendra Modi was to address a rally there.

When this correspondent visited the village, it was clear that Ahle Hadees was the one topic no one wished to speak about.

According to information pieced together by speaking to those who wished to stay anonymous, the picture that appeared seemed to be one of divide in the village and contempt bordering towards hostility towards the sect. The Ahle Hadees is not liked in the village as it is considered to be hardliner. Imtiaz had been beaten up last year by villagers for his activities. Villagers said that the sect looked down upon pirs and fakirs, among other practices they consider deviant from Islamic tradition. "They used to visit our houses in small groups and preach to us," said a local.

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The level of secrecy is such that the villagers first refused to show where the makeshift mosque of the followers of the sect was located, until one of them was coaxed into it.

According to sources, the followers of the sect number anywhere between 30 to 60 in the village, which has approximately 500 houses. The population is evenly divided between Christians and Muslims.

However, it was a mere four people who could be seen offering the namaaz when this correspondent caught up with them at the mosque, a fledgling brick structure covered with a blue plastic tent.

Mehboob Alam, 39, a supplier of construction material, emphasised that they were not boycotted by the village. "There is just one village committee and we are all part of it. We are together in joy and sorrow," said Alam. He pointed out that the committee had organised a function against terrorism on Friday in the village. "We are against any act of terror as it hurts the country," he added.

The Imam of the mosque, Abdul Rauf, 45, a tailor, said that the boys had taken upon themselves a leadership role. "Inquilab lane ka programme tha," he said. According to Rauf, the boys had taken a leading role in fighting social evils like dowry, drinking, gambling, lack of religiosity and others. "They used to boycott feasts at the houses of brides as it puts too much economic strain on their families," said Rauf.

Naushad Alam, 43, a shopkeeper trading in electrical wares, agreed that they were the target of hatred in the village. "The boys belonged to our sect. Naturally, we are being looked at with suspicion," said Alam.

 
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