On Monday, when home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde announced that the National Investigating Agency (NIA) would probe the curious case of Liyaqat Shah, HT accessed the input shared by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) clearly stating that a former terrorist would be coming via the Kathmandu route with his immediate family to reunite with his extended family in Kashmir.
The IB did not classify Liyaqat as a Hizbul Mujahideen operative, nor was he described as a member of a fidayeen or suicide squad.
Last week, Delhi Police arrested Liyaqat from Gorakhpur, UP, while he was on his way to Delhi. On March 22, they claimed that the ‘surrendered militant’ had been chosen to supervise young fidayeen recruits “who would commit spectacular terrorist strikes in Delhi” ahead of Holi.
The Jammu & Kashmir government’s surrender policy allows safe passage to militants who want to return to the state from training camps across the LoC. Scores of surrendered militants have used this avenue to return to a normal life in the Valley.
Liyaqat is now being interrogated by the special cell of Delhi Police that is yet to explain how a terrorist who went to Pakistan in 1996 could be of use to a terror outfit when he hadn’t set foot in India for the last 16 years, and had never been to Delhi.
With more such key unanswered questions, intelligence and home ministry officials are now asking if Delhi Police are refusing to admit that they made a mistake and are now trying to cover up.
For instance, police cannot explain why a hardcore terrorist would have his extended family process his surrender application or come to Gorakhpur with his wife and daughter if he were on a suicide mission or why after last week's arrest Liyaqat's wife was allowed to proceed to Kashmir without being questioned by the special cell. They also cannot shed light on why the IB put out an alert specifying that a former terrorist would surrender.
And while its version of the arrest has changed several times - Delhi Police initially claimed they had acted on the IB input, but on Monday a senior officer said the arrest was made on the basis of a tip-off by an informer - they are insistent that Liyaqat "confessed" to his terror links.
Sources in J&K Police have also confirmed to HT that Liyaqat's surrender application had been evaluated and cleared from their end, which raises the question as to why the state police would give a green signal for the arrest.
Delhi Police also said that Liyaqat's name figures in a list of absconders, whereas J&K Police maintain the list contains names of those who had crossed over to Pakistan in the 90s.
An agitated J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah, who had spoken to Shinde on Saturday and demanded an NIA probe said, "Will a militant out to attack a shopping mall in Delhi come holding the hands of his wife and children?"
The NIA has now been asked to probe the truth from the conflicting claims being made by the state government and Delhi Police.