Kolkata’s most infamous convict, Aftab Ansari, convicted in the 2002 American Center Attack case and abduction of shoe baron Partha Pratim Roy Burman would get a new address at New Delhi’s Tihar Jail soon.
The Special Task Force (STF) of Kolkata Police has decided to send Ansari, mastermind behind the two cases, to Tihar citing security reasons. STF Ahmedabad, STF Delhi and CBI also wanted to keep him at Tihar in Delhi as many cases are pending against him with them.
“We do not have any problem if he is shifted to Tihar Jail in Delhi,” said Ranveer Kumar, inspector-general of police (correctional home), Alipore jail. The American Center attack was Kolkata’s first brush with terror, in which five policemen were killed and 20 injured.
Currently, STF Kolkata provides security and takes care of transporting Ansari to places where he has to appear for trials. “Now, there are no cases pending against him here. So, the STF finds no reason to keep him in Kolkata jail,” said Kumar.
The STF also bears the cost of the convict’s air fare as the former believes his security could be breached any time by a terrorist group during transition. Rajeev Kumar, former STF chief of Kolkata Police, said there was no need to keep Ansari in Kolkata as both the American Center attack and shoe baron’s abduction cases were over.
On January 22, 2002, two bikers stormed the US Information Service (USIS) on JL Nehru Road, just when the night security detail was being relieved. One of them got off, whipped out an AK-56 and started firing. The policemen, who were in the middle of a change of guard, were caught completely unawares.
The gunman was later identified as Sadaqat Hussain. His accomplice, Idris Mohammad Zahid, was killed in an encounter in Hazaribagh four days later. Sadaqat was arrested by the Mumbai Police that September.
Within hours of the attack, Ansari, who was running his operations from Dubai, claimed responsibility. Till then, he was known only as the mastermind behind the abduction of Khadim’s vice-president Partha Pratim Roy Burman in July 2001, and not as a terrorist.
Police found that Ansari was a close associate of Kolkata-born Asif Reza Khan, who was killed in an encounter in Rajkot. The USIS attack was to avenge Asif's death. Asif was the brother of Amir Reza Khan, founder of the Indian Mujahideen, which has carried out several terror attacks across the country.
Ansari also had links with dreaded Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorist Omar Sheikh, who was released after the Kandahar hijack and later charged with the murder of US journalist Daniel Pearl.
“The STF and CBI have to take court's permission to keep him at Tihar. If the formalities are over, Ansari will be transferred to the jail soon,” said IG (correctional home).