New Delhi: Zahida Irshad Khan, the 28-year-old wife of Yasin Bhatkal who was sentenced to death on Monday for his role in 2013 Hyderabad twin blasts, is suspicious of late-evening knocks at her door. Understandably, therefore, when Mail Today team sought permission to enter her house at Abul Fazl Enclave in South-East Delhi, her first reaction was to slam shut the doors and switch off all lights inside.
When Mail Today broke the news of death penalty to her husband, Zahida first expressed shock, then self-pity. “Mujhe mere haal par chhod do (Leave me alone),” she pleaded.
A few minutes later, Zahida opened up to share her plight. “I am running out of cash and all the children are dying slowly because of hunger. My eldest daughter is running high fever. No one is here to take care of us. Instead, everyone comes to bring more trouble. Please let us live in isolation. We don’t belong to this world,” she said, amid frequent intervals.
Zahida takes care of ten children. Some of them belong to her and Bhatkal. She is convinced that her husband is not a terrorist. “Wo begunhah hai. Unke sath aur humare parivaar ke sath zyadati mat karo (He is innocent. Don’t do injustice with him and us),” she said, her voice breaking.
Yasin Bhatkal, real name Mohammed Ahmed Siddibappa, is co-founder of banned organisation Indian Mujahideen. He was arrested from Indo-Nepal border in Bihar in August 2013 for his role in Hyderabad twin blasts which killed 18 people. Bhatkal was charged with waging a war on Indian state and on Monday, an NIA court sentenced him along with four other IM operatives to death.
Zahida told Mail Today she is unaware about any progress in the case. She also claimed that the security agencies who often approach her after Bhatkal’s arrest, have not told her where her husband is lodged.
She has no regular source of income and often has to make ends meet on charity. If the situation remains the same, she said, she may have to kill all her children before ending her life. “I am not earning anything. I lost my job as people have stopped sending their kids to my house to learn Urdu, because I am Yasin Bhatkal’s wife. I am fed up since our residential address has come in the public domain after my husband’s arrest.”
Till a few years ago, when her identity was not associated as the wife of a terrorist, she worked as a teacher in Shaheen Bagh. She later started teaching Urdu at her residence, but after the terror charge on her husband, she was isolated.
The main door of her house in the Dblock of Abul Fazl Enclave bears a poster of A4 size that reads the name of Mohammad Irshad Khan, father of Zahida and below it the full address.
It was this address where Bhatkal sent $1000 dollars before Eid in 2013 that proved to be his undoing when NIA investigators picked up the money trail.
Intelligence agencies were keeping a close watch on Zahida through an informer close to the family. They had also tapped phone calls to the family. Yasin, in his initial interrogation disclosed that his phone calls to his wife gave him away.WHAT HAPPENED The agencies had their first clear lead on his whereabouts five months before arrest, when their informer revealed the money and clothes sent to Zahida. According to NIA sources, Yasin called his wife twice just before Eid on August 9, 2013. After the calls, he sent a tranche of money to her through the hawala route, which was traced to Pokhara in Nepal. This led to his arrest.
Bhatkal got married to Zahida, daughter of Mohamad Irshad Khan (another IM operative arrested in 2011 for running an illegal arms factory in Meer Vihar in outer Delhi), in 2010. Bhatkal introduced himself as Imran Ahmed who worked in the arms factory of Khan. Irshad, who knew about his son-in-law’s antecedents, was reportedly impressed by his knowledge of Islam and spiritual fervour. Zahida and her mother were kept in the dark about the real activities of Irshad and Yasin, and were led to believe that they were running some kind of a manufacturing unit. Yasin remained incommunicado from his wife when he travelled around the country.
Courtesy: India Today