The face-off between the Delhi police team and the officers of the Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad (ATS), both on the trail of two July 13 triple blasts suspects holed up in Byculla, turned ugly after a Delhi cop stationed outside the suspects’ rented house threatened to shoot an ATS officer if he tried to nab them.
The build-up to the spat began after a phone call was intercepted by the two agencies in the first week of January. Waqqas, said to have planted the bombs at Opera House and Zaveri Bazaar, had called landlady Rubina Qureshi to tell her that he will come to collect the remaining Rs84,000 rent deposit between January 10 and 12.
This prompted the agencies to go on an overdrive and plant their sleuths and spotters to identify the accused. The Delhi police had a slender advantage as they had been camping in the area since December on the basis of information provided by a key conduit, Naquee Ahmed, who had helped Waqqas and his accomplice Tabrez rent the flat.
At the same time, the ATS, armed with CCTV images of Waqqas and Tabrez, along with their spotters, sent an inspector and four constables to keep a watch on the house. This irked the Delhi police officer, who asked the ATS inspector to leave the area. When the ATS officer protested, the Delhi police officer allegedly said, “Agar tune haath dala, toh mein goli maar doonga (If you put your hand [on the accused], I will shoot you).”
This triggered a volley of abuses between senior ATS officers and the Delhi police officer, and the ATS summoned about 300 of its men to keep a watch on Habib building, and to block all exit points from Mumbai.
The Delhi police officer finally climbed down, and sought to make peace. A highly-placed official in Mumbai police said, “No police force is going to take it very kindly if its officer is threatened to be shot.”