The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has found scientific evidence indicating former Hizbul Mujahideen militant Liaqat Shah was allegedly framed in a terror case by Delhi Police’s anti-terror squad, the Special Cell.
Suspected Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist, Liyaqat Shah, who was arrested in Gorakhpur is seen in New Delhi. HT/ Sunil Saxena
“Investigators found that a person named Sabir Khan Pathan alias Munna allegedly planted arms and ammunition in the Jama Masjid area guesthouse. Pathan has been living in the Special Cell barracks for eight years and was allegedly working as an informer for the Cell. The NIA sleuths lifted DNA samples from the guesthouse room and, according to a lab report, they matched DNA samples from family members of Pathan, who is now untraceable,” said a home ministry official, requesting anonymity.
The Special Cell had claimed that an associate of Shah had stored the arms and ammunition in the guesthouse at his request. The NIA is now finalising its charge sheet in the case, which may clear Liaqat Shah.
HT couldn’t reach Special Cell chief SN Srivastava for comments. But Shah told HT, “I stand vindicated that I had returned not to spread terror but to see my family members and my land once again.”
Shah was arrested by the Special Cell on March 20 last year from Sanauli at the Indo-Nepal border on charges of conspiring to carry out terror attacks in the Capital. The former Hizbul militant had arrived with his third wife and daughter from Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK).
He had lived in PoK for the last 17 years after crossing the Line of Control in the early 90s.
Opposing the arrest, Shah’s family and the Jammu and Kashmir government had claimed that he had come back to surrender under the rehabilitation policy for former militants. The probe over his arrest was finally handed over to the NIA amid huge controversy.
Investigators also found that the last call to Pathan’s mobile phone originated from a number believed to have been used by an assistant commissioner of police rank officer of the Special Cell. The call was made on March 25 last year, the day the NIA probe into Shah’s arrest was announced by the government. After this call, the phone has remained switched off till now.
According to eyewitnesses, Pathan lived in one of the barracks of the Lodhi colony office of the Special Cell. He worked for late inspector Mohan Chand Sharma — who died in the 2008 Batla House encounter — but remained associated with the Cell even after Sharma’s death, said home ministry sources.