Jaish-e-Mohammad operative Mohammad Abid was sentenced to life imprisonment by a special court on 14 July for "plotting to kill innocent people in the country in order to create an atmosphere of terror".
According to police, Abid, Mirza Rashid Beg alias Raza Kazzafi and Shaifurrahman alias Yusuf were Pakistani nationals and were kept in Lucknow jail after their arrest in November 2007, following an encounter when they were on their way to Lucknow.
Soon after Abid's conviction, Mahesh Devi, a woman from Meerut claimed that the JeM operative resembled her son Praveen Kumar, who went missing in 2006, reported The Indian Express.
"My son was a contractual driver who went missing in 2006. We wrote to the Human Rights Commission and also filed a petition in the high court (to help him trace him), but nothing happened. He was 27 then," she said.
Mahesh Devi said that she came across Abid's photo in a local newspaper and expressed interest in meeting Abid and was quoted in the report as saying, "Abid’s face resembles my son’s. Praveen had left home for Delhi with a passenger on 5 May, 2006, but he never returned.” She also submitted a memorandum requesting the Lucknow District Magistrate and UP jail superintendent to facilitate a meeting with Abid.
"When the photographs of the three JeM men held guilty by the court on 30 June, 2016 appeared in newspapers on 1 July in Meerut, we realised that there is uncanny resemblance between Pravin and Abid. Thereafter, we came to Lucknow to meet Abid," her younger son Pawan told PTI.
On 16 July, the local administration granted her permission to meet Abid in Lucknow jail. The family finally met Abid for 50 minutes on Sunday in the presence of senior officials of the special task force, anti-terror squad and local intelligence unit.
After the meeting, which the family stuck to its claim and demanded a DNA test, Abid denied any links to the family, reported The Times of India. "His voice, the body structure and all about him speak the same thing, except he himself. He said he was not Pravin, and also denied being married, but won't a mother recognise her child," she told TOI.
Not giving up their search, Rihai Manch, the NGO, which is helping out Mahesh Devi, said that they will ask the state government's intervention in the matter.
After their arrest in 2007, the police claimed that they had sneaked into India from Pakistan to free 42 JeM operatives lodged in Indian jails. Three pistols, two AK-47 rifles, 60 live cartridges, 16 hand grenades, 4kg RDX and fake I-cards were recovered from them.
The Special Task Force of the Uttar Pradesh police had said that they had planned to kidnap a top politician from the state, according to The Hindu.
Director General of Police Vikram Singh had described them as “fidayeen” or suicide bombers and said that Abid had undergone training in Afghanistan and in Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
With inputs from agencies