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Sketchy hunt hits innocent

New Delhi, Nov. 3: Police sketches of a Delhi blast suspect today led a hysterical mob to grab and beat up a young man whose only facial resemblance to the portrait lay in his goatee.

Daily wager Mohammad Nawab was out early this morning in search of work when a group of people, many carrying newspapers with the sketches, spotted him in the Vaishali area of Ghaziabad, a town on Delhi’s outskirts.

The youth, in his early 20s and wearing a skull cap, was immediately surrounded, thrashed, and dragged to the Indirapuram police station. After day-long questioning by Uttar Pradesh and Delhi police, the special task force, special cell, crime branch and intelligence agencies, he was freed in the evening.

“Sir, they have been harassing me since morning,” Nawab, sitting on the floor of the police station, told reporters. “My father is sick and I am the family’s breadwinner. Without me, they will starve. I haven’t even had lunch. They grabbed me just because I am a Muslim.”

“He doesn’t seem to be involved in the blasts. There is no resemblance (with the portrait of the suspect),” a senior Delhi police officer said.

The police had released three purported sketches of the terrorist suspected to have left a satchel containing a bomb in a public bus at Govindpuri.

Delhi police sources said that ever since the identikit came out in this morning’s newspapers, its special cell had been flooded with calls from people who claimed to have spotted suspicious characters with goatees.

Tarun Shukla, resident of Vaishali, was in the crowd that “caught” Nawab. “It was around 8 am. We saw this chap moving around in a suspicious manner,” Shukla said. “The newspapers had pictures of the suspect; this guy seemed to resemble him.”

A police officer later said Nawab is originally from Baghpat, Uttar Pradesh. “He and his family now live in Ghaziabad’s Dasna village. He washes dishes for a wedding caterer. As there isn’t enough work, he was moving around Vaishali looking for a job,” another officer said.

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