This Article is From Aug 31, 2013

In Bhatkal, a family hopes Yasin Bhatkal is not Ahmed Siddibappa

Yasin Bhatkal's father Zarar Siddibapa speaks to NDTV

Bhatkal, a small town in north Karnataka, looks at every stranger with suspicion. The town's people say they have to live with the tag of "terror factory" and partly blame the media for it. Television crews are chased away.

At the house where the family of Yasin Bhatkal or Ahmed Siddibappa lives, we are told to put our cameras away. As a crowd gathers, the NDTV crew manages to slip into the Siddibappa household.

Persuading Yasin's father to speak is a task in itself. He says he does not want to be identified as a terrorist's father.

Zarar Siddibappa tells NDTV, "We have not seen him for seven years. He was an innocent boy when he was here. He went to Dubai to set up a business and disappeared from there.

Those seven years have been a nightmare for the family. "We have been ostracised here. No one speaks to us these days. Our relatives don't visit us. Everyone looks at our family with suspicion. We are dying a slow death every day," Mr Siddibappa, who is in his seventies, says.

He clings to the hope that the man arrested in north Bihar on Wednesday night is not his son Ahmed, who he describes as a "very nice boy when he was here." The father says, "I don't even know if it is my son. Today we got a notice from the police that they have arrested him. I have to see him to believe it is him."

Bhatkal's brother Samad, who was arrested mistakenly in 2010, lives in the same house. Mr Siddibappa said he was unnecessarily dragged into trouble.

"They held Samad as well, ruined his life, ours. Our family is suffering." Mr Siddibappa said. "Once it's confirmed it's my son they have caught, we will do something. I believe he is innocent and we will do whatever we can to defend him," the distraught father told us.

"My life has been ruined forever after the arrest. Wherever I go I am a suspect. Now I just want to start a business on my own and move on with my life," said Samad.

On Thursday evening, just hours after his arrest, Bhatkal's uncle, in a statement, said that the family was relieved because "the truth will come out and our fears that he would be eliminated in a fake encounter have been put to rest."

Samad said the family is looking forward to meeting his brother. "We are happy he has been found after so many years. I don't believe the charges him are true. We are sure he is innocent. We are now looking forward to going and meeting him," he said.

Locals in Bhatkal hope they will not have to deal with another Yasin. The town desperately wants to move on. It wants to remove the terror tag it has lived with all these years. And the residents of Bhatkal hope Yasin's arrest will bring some closure.