‘Bullet-proof jacket warns terrorists’


Terror once again came to haunt the capital on September 13. Serial blasts at GK I, Connaught Place and Gaffar Market, for which the newly-formed Indian Mujahideen (IM) claimed responsibility, killed 25 people and injured more than 100. The Delhi Police claimed that just as with the Ahmedabad bombings, an email warning of the blasts was sent from the eastern suburbs of Mumbai. Police suspected that more than 10 people were involved in the Delhi blasts. Names of Raqeeb, Mujib, Mohammad Afridi, Shah Alam, Abu Zar, Danish and Aftab were floated as suspects. The Special Cell suspected that the terrorists who planted the bombs came from western UP.

Later, police prepared sketches of blast suspects with the help of five eyewitnesses and the role of Mumbai-resident Mohammed Subhan Quereshi alias Tauqeer, a suspected SIMI activist, was being probed. Police believe that he could have hacked a Wi-Fi system in Mumbai to send the terror email to media houses. Tauqeer is believed to have visited Delhi two weeks before the bombings. He has been named as an accused in other terror attacks since 2003. Police claimed that Abu Bashar, who was arrested by Gujarat Police for the Ahmedabad blasts, was in Delhi before his arrest, and so were Qayamuddin and Subhan. These two names cropped up after Delhi Police's interrogation of Abu Bashar, who reportedly said that they had planted the bombs in the capital. Delhi Police asked for remand of Nagori, of SIMI, and are looking for Shahbaz Hussain, a businessman from Lucknow, for his alleged involvement in the Jaipur blasts. 

On September 19, the Special Cell shot down two ‘terrorists' in the Batla House locality in Jamia Nagar. One more person was arrested, while two managed to flee and are still at large, Delhi Police Commissioner YS Dadwal revealed. Five persons have been detained. Acting on a tip-off that a key leader of the IM and other Delhi blasts suspects were holed up on the fourth floor of house number L-18, behind Khalilullah Mosque, a team led by Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma swooped down on the suspects at around 11.15 am. The police team claims it was taken by surprise as the suspects opened fire. 

The exchange of fire lasted for about 45 minutes with around 22 bullets fired by the police in response to the eight fired by the suspects. Atif, 24, alias Bashir and Sajid, 17, both believed to be involved in the Ahmedabad blasts, were killed. Atif is believed to be one of the key operatives and is thought to have come to Delhi on July 27 from Ahmedabad. The police also suspect that he was in Jaipur during the blasts there. The one arrested is Mohammed Saif. Sources reveal that all the suspected militants are in the age group of 22 to 25.

Three bullets that pierced the abdomen and shoulder of encounter specialist Sharma proved fatal and he died at the Holy Family Hospital. Apparently the bullets are not lodged in the body. Head Constable Balwant, who got hit, is out of danger.

Besides one AK-47 rifle and two .30 bore pistols, police claim they recovered 30 rounds of ammunition and explosives. The recovery of one laptop, incriminating documents, one phone dairy and a few CDs could help the investigating agencies in identifying terror sleeper cells spread across the country, the police claims.

Dadwal said the operation was based on exclusive leads on IM and had no connection with the other cases. He refuted media reports suggesting that the operation was carried out after a tip off from Abu Bashar who was brought to Delhi for interrogation. Police had earlier claimed that the prime suspect in the Delhi blasts, Tauqeer, used to live in this area before he disappeared in 2001. As per police sources, the killed suspects, like Bashar, came from Azamgarh in UP.

Delhi Police maintains that the two escaped from the other door on the right that took them to a staircase which leads to an open terrace from where they could jump on to other terraces. Joint CP (Special Cell) Karnail Singh said: "Wearing a uniform and bullet-proof jacket often warns terrorists who get away. Sharma had his own gameplan and went with it." The police insist that the tip-off was about terrorists hiding in one of the three-four specific houses in that particular lane. Before L-18 was approached, one police constable dressed as a salesperson had knocked on three flats. Their intent was to ensure that terrorists were taken unawares.

Police later arrested Saqib Nisar, Mohammed Shakeel, Mohammed Zeeshan and Zia-ur-Rehman, who police say were involved in several blasts under the banner of IM. Police explained that Saqib had accompanied Atif and Shakeel to Ahmedabad to do a recce of the blast sites while Zia planted bombs in Ahmedabad and provided logistics support in the Delhi blasts. Zeeshan is accused of planting a bomb at Barakhamba Road in Delhi. Since then, Delhi police's special cell has been picking up young boys from the Jamia Nagar locality.