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NIA officer shot dead in ‘planned attack’, all angles being examined

india Updated: Apr 04, 2016 18:17 IST
HT Correspondents
mohammed tanzil

Mohammed Tanzil and his family were returning home after attending a marriage function at Bijnor on Sunday morning when the assailants struck. (File photo)

A senior National Investigation Agency (NIA) officer died on Sunday after two unidentified gunmen fired over 20 bullets at him in Uttar Pradesh’s Bijnor district, the first such attack on a member of India’s only federal anti-terror body.

NIA inspector Mohammed Tanzil Ahmed and his family were heading back to their house in UP’s Sahaspur at 1am on Sunday when two motorcycle-borne men forced him to stop his WagonR car at Seohara and fired from close range.

Forty five year-old Ahmed — on deputation from the Border Security Force and part of several probe teams against terror outfit Indian Mujahideen — had gone to Bijnor with his family to attend a marriage function.

Read: NIA officer shot dead in Bijnor, wife injured

“Tanzil Ahmed was an asset to the agency. His killing is a great loss to the NIA. We take it as a challenge to bring the perpetrators of this crime to justice. We will not rest until that happens,” said Sanjeev Kumar Singh, acting director general of the NIA.

NIA officer Mohammed Tanzil's body was brought to his residence in Delh on Sunday. (Arun Sharma/HT Photo)

An initial probe suggested the murder was “meticulously planned”, and the assailants conducted a recce. “The fact that more than 20 bullets were fired at the officer suggests that the assailants didn’t want him to survive at any cost,” said a senior NIA official.

Sources said both children — 14-year-old daughter Jumnish and 11-year-old son Sahbagh —who were in the backseat saved their lives by hiding behind the seats.

Their mother, Farzana, is in a critical condition in a Noida hospital.

Read: India cannot simply wish away the threat of the Islamic State

“Ahmed’s daughter told us two assailants on bikes with covered faces fired bullets at her father. Ahmed’s wife got bullet injuries in an effort to save her husband,” said UP police chief Javed Ahmad.

“We have formed a special team consisting of officials from ATS, STF and local police to solve the case.”

Family members mourn Tanzil’s murder at his residence in Delhi. (Arun Sharma/HT Photo)

The only clue was that the assailants came from the Sahaspur side and went back the same way after the murder, the DGP added.

“So far we have not received any information that Ahmed had any tiff at the marriage function he attended.”

Home minister Rajnath Singh told reporters in Lucknow he had been apprised of the incident and that Delhi Police’s special cell will also probe the murder. The Delhi government announced a compensation of Rs 1 crore for Ahmed’s family.

Police suspect Ahmed’s movements were being tracked by the assailants who used at least one 9mm pistol in the shootout.

The NIA is looking into all of Ahmed’s cases and his personal conduct, sources said.

Ahmed was with the NIA since its inception in February 2009 and investigated many cases related to the Indian Mujahideen.

During a recent investigation into Islamic State-linked modules in the country, the agency uncovered plans to target police officers as well as other security agencies.

Terming Ahmed’s murder as a “planned attack”, Singh said Ahmed was not formally a part of the Pathankot airbase attack probe team but was consulted owing to his knowledge of Urdu.

Ahmed was also rumoured to be part of the NIA team that will visit Pakistan to collect evidence in the Pathankot militant strike case but NIA officials said such a team was yet to be constituted.

Anti-terrorist squad inspector general Aseem Arun, who is tasked with investigating Ahmed’s murder, said it was “difficult to say anything about the possibility of a terrorist attack at this stage of the investigation”.

Bijnor was last in the news in 2014 after an accidental blast revealed the presence of a SIMI module.