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Gujarat encounter: One victim was once a Hindu

By George Iype in Kochi
Last updated on: June 18, 2004 23:18 IST
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Three days after the Gujarat police shot dead four persons, including a teenaged girl from Mumbai, accusing them of plotting to assassinate Chief Minister Narendra Modi, investigators have landed in Kerala to probe the antecedents of one of the 'terrorists'.

Javed Gulam Shaikh, one of the four alleged terrorists killed in the encounter in Ahmedabad, hailed from Nooranad village in Alappuzha district. His father Gopinath Pillai cannot believe that his son is a 'terrorist'.

Javed, 32, was originally a Hindu whose name was Pranesh Kumar. He converted to Islam eight years ago to marry a Pune-based Muslim girl Fajeeda.

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"Pillai has gone to Ahmedabad to collect his son's body. How can the police shoot and kill an innocent car driver just like this? It has been a terrible shock to the family," G Prabhakaran, a neighbour of the family, told

He knew Javed well. "He came to our village on May 30 and was here for five days. He had in fact come in the same car in which the police gunned him down."

Javed used to drive down to Kerala. Driving was his passion. His father, who worked as a small-time contractor in Pune, had taken his son to the city in Maharashtra after he completed his SSLC examinations in 1991.

Initially, Javed got a job in a cable television company but was not happy there. So he learnt to drive and joined a tourist taxi company. Meanwhile, Pillai returned to Nooranad in 1996 to settle down there.

Javed had reportedly married without informing his parents. Though his marriage to a Muslim girl and his conversion to Islam had infuriated them, they had forgiven him.

Javed often visited his parents - his mother Saraswati died two years back - accompanied by his wife Fajeeda and three children - two boys and a girl.

Gujarat police claim that Javed and other two men were 'terrorists' who were members of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Tayiba.

They claim to have identified them on the basis of physical descriptions received through intelligence inputs.

A Gujarat police team is in Kerala to probe into Javed's background and other details.

"The fact that he drove to Kerala often in the same car, in which he was traveling with the others when they were killed by the Gujarat police, is one of the points under investigation," a senior Kerala police officer said.
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George Iype in Kochi