ibnlive » India

Aug 22, 2008 at 12:35pm IST

Is Azamgarh in UP emerging as a terror hub

Azamgarh (UP): Abu Bashar was picked up from his home in Azamgarh earlier this month in relation to his involvement in Ahmedabad serial blast case. His family insists he is innocent.

However, the bigger question is whether this small town in Uttar Pradesh is now becoming a hub for terror.

For Abu Bakar, father of Abu Bashar, the world came crashing down around him on August 14 when the Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) picked up his eldest son (Abu Bashar) from his home in Azamgarh.

HARLEM INTERRUPTED: Poverty and unemployment often force young men to leave Azamgarh and work elsewhere.

Bakar said, “They (ATS) caught him (Abu Bashar) and threw him in the car and flew away like jinns.”

The neighbours have been thronging the house ever since the news broke. Most of them cannot believe what the police have suggested.

Village head, Mohammed Shahid Pradhan said, “The authorities have destroyed the whole family by implicating Bashar in a false case.”

One Aasim Khan said, “Abul Bashar comes from one of the poorest families in the village and even as his family recovers from the shock that their son could have been a hardened militant, many in the village feel that his turn towards radicalization could not have happened only after he left the village in search of employment elsewhere.”

Poverty and unemployment often force youngmen to leave Azamgarh and work elsewhere. Most of the Muslim households here have men working either in big cities like Mumbai or in the Gulf.

One of Azamgarh's most famous sons, Abu Salem went on to become a name to reckon with in the underworld.

Journalist Banwari Lal Jalan said, “There is rampant unemployment in the community. Also the people here have a tendency to take up crime here. The youth become easy prey.”

The emergence of over 300 Madrassas only provides a radical edge. Organisations like SIMI have gained clout in many of these institutions.

A retired teacher, Abu Soofian, who runs a girls’ school in Beenapur feels it is time to put a check on the madrassas.

Soofian said, “Almost 90% of the zakaat money and sadka (charity) goes to these madrassas and what is the output ? They don't give you employment and mostly produce either maulans or muezzins who can only be employed in a madrassa or a mosque.”

As for Abu Bashar's family, the future looks bleak and for Azamgarh, it seems yet another case of a young man lost forever to the world of crime and terror.