Calcutta, Sept. 30: When Mohammed Majid Ansari looks back on his life, one year would stand out.
It was 2003, and the young man — arrested yesterday from Rajabazar in connection with the Mumbai train blasts — had met five Bangladeshis who came to Calcutta with a distant relative.
Majid made all the arrangements for their stay in a guesthouse and even accompanied them to Mumbai for a fortnight.
Before they went back to Bangladesh, the five handed him Rs 10,000 for being a good host. Unaware of their ulterior motives, Majid, then 27, fell into the trap. As the relationship grew, the Class IX dropout started visiting Bangladesh on their invitation and would return with gifts for his family and friends.
“Investigations revealed that he had no passport and frequented Bangladesh thrice a month over the past one year. He used to cross the border through paid agents and returned only after 10 days,” an officer with the city’s police intelligence wing said.
According to the official, the five youths were part of a Bangladesh-based terrorist outfit and wanted a contact in Calcutta. So they lured Majid. “During their stay in Mumbai, Majid bought a SIM card for them by providing his identity card,” the officer added.
The police say Majid later became involved in a hawala racket. “He became a major hawala operator and had to go to Bangladesh frequently. Three Bangladeshis had come to meet him a fortnight before his arrest,” the officer said.
The arrest has come as a shock to his family. “He is innocent,” said Mohammed Shahid Ansari, one of Majid’s six brothers. Majid is the youngest among 12 siblings. While his sisters are married, the brothers run two shoe shops.
“It’s true he met some Bangladeshi youths in 2003 and accompanied them to Mumbai. But he did not know their background,” Shahid said. “But we have faith in Allah.”
In a dingy lane under Narkeldanga police station, neighbours were stunned. Akram Ali, a garment shop owner, said every week some Bangladeshis came to stay in guesthouses. “But how do we know if they are terrorists or not'” he asked.