Eighteen days was all it took the Indian Mujahideen chief Atif Ameen to radicalise and recruit Shahzad Ahmed as a bomber for the terror outfit. Shahzad was among the easier recruits for Ameen.
While Ameen died in the Batla House encounter, Shahzad survived. In fact, Shahzad is suspected to have shot Inspector M.C. Sharma during the encounter.
But Shahzad’s run didn’t last long. Arrested from Azamgarh, he told the police he had been living off his grandfather’s money for the last few months.
Shahzad told police that he had come to Delhi after he Ameen called him in August 2008. On August 27, 2008, when Ameen met and showed Shahzad pictures of the 2002 Gujarat riots.
“As both of them were from Azamgarh, it was easy for Ameen to radicalise him. He made him join the IM in 18 days as a bomber,” said a senior police officer. Shahzad reportedly planted a bomb at the Children’s Park near India Gate on September 13, 2008.
Escape from Batla
On September 19, 2008, Shahzad and Arif alias Junaid (still absconding), after opening fire at Sharma came running down the four-storey building pretending to be residents. They sneaked away after “expressing concern to the cops waiting downstairs over the shootout.”
At the time of his arrest, Ahmed was in a “famished and worn out” state. “I used to walk to my grandfather’s house 15 km, and ask for money. I lived on the paltry sums he gave,” he reportedly told the Crime Branch officers.
No pilot’s training
Ahmed, who has studied till Class XI, has denied ever being trained as a commercial pilot or that he was to go to Australia for the same. “He told us he had enrolled in a computer animation course at South Extension in Delhi and has never undergone any training to be a pilot,” said a senior police officer.
Meanwhile, the crime branch raided several places in a bid to locate the .33 bore pistol with which Sharma was shot.