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Lucknow siege: Will not receive an anti-national’s body, says slain terrorist Saifullah’s father

From invoking Prophet Mohammad to weeping wretchedly- hours before Saifullah was shot dead by Uttar Pradesh police, his family members tried everything to persuade him to surrender. By daybreak, news of the ISIS-inspired youth’s killing was out. When cops went to Kanpur to bring his father to receive the body in Lucknow, Sartaj flatly refused. He would not receive an “anti-national’s body”.

Top UP police sources said when Saifullah’s hideout was surrounded and onlookers were removed from the locality at the outskirts of the state capital, there was a straight fight between the gunman and members of the special task force (STF). But the police first tried to make him surrender but when their efforts failed, a meeting of top UP police officers took place. A quick strategy was worked out- while police commandoes were kept on standby at the hideout, Saifullah’s relatives were located in Kanpur. They were roped in to coax the youth to give in.

His Kanpur-based brother, Khalid, was made to speak to Saifullah over the phone by the police. But Saifullah was not receptive. The young man in his 20s was, in fact, “screamed and said he wanted to die” as if he was possessed by someone, said sources According to the police, Saifullah and his associates’ terror plans were nothing less than “catstrophic”.

Khalid also asked his father to speak to Saifullah and convince him to surrender. Sobbing and helpless, Sartaj told Saifullah that he had left home to study and he should focus on that rather than getting into terrorist activities. But this made no difference. At one point, Khalid also invoked Prophet Mohammad and asked Saifullah to give up in his name. However, the gunman was not prepared to listen. He was so deeply indoctrinated that it became impossible for even his family members to penetrate his hardened ideology, police sources said.

“It was like all hell broke loose on his family when they discovered that someone who had spent his childhood and best years of his life with them was not willing to listen to them at all,” said a senior police officer.

Sartaj said, two months ago he had beaten up Saifullah for not working. Last week the young man called up his father to say he was going to Saudi Arabia.

Clearly there were differing views within the family on what Saifullah was up to. However, relatives could not prevail and police action had to be launched to eliminate him.

The police drilled walls in the hideout and tried to use fibre optic cameras to monitor his movements. They also used tear gas and chilly shells to try and flush him out. Finally, anti-terrorism squad commandoes stormed the building after issuing a warning. But Saifullah started firing and the ATS men retaliated. Following the 12-hour long operation, the rooms were searched and his body was found. The commandoes had also spotted a wire wrapped around his stomach, indicating he was plotting a fidayeen attack.

The police wanted to catch him alive so his interrogation could shed light on the module, its plans and sympathisers. Cops seized a large cache of arms and ammunition, explosives, railways maps and ISIS flags from the site.

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