An email that issued a death threat to him purportedly on behalf of terror group Al Qaeda scared an elderly citizen of Chandigarh so much so that he approached the Punjab and Haryana high court seeking a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). He had already approached the police, who had were dilly-dallying over registration of an FIR.
Here’s what the mail to PS Sawhney, reported to be in his seventies, in February 2016 said, demanding $8,000 to spare his life: “As you can see we are the members of the Deadly Networks in the world, which is responsible for the bombing of twin towers in America on Sept. 11th and the bombing of London transport services on July 7th (AL-QAEDA NETWORKS WORLDWIDE), I don’t have any business with you, my duty as I am mailing you now is just to KILL you and I been paid for that (sic).”
In his complaint to the police, Sawhney did not name anybody nor did he specify why he was possibly being threatened. The police found that the email was hosted on a New York server; and unsuccessfully tried to contact the agencies concerned. The cops simply told Sawhney that the matter had reached a dead end due to ‘jurisdiction issues’.
A dissatisfied Sawhney approached the high court in July 2016, arguing that it was mandatory for the police to register an FIR since it was a cognizable offence. As police were dilly-dallying, the matter be handed over to the CBI, he said. The court observed that the authenticity of the email was doubtful. It asked the senior superintendent of police (SSP) to ensure that the life and liberty of the petitioner was protected, but declined to refer the case to the CBI.
Not that Sawhney’s fears are not understandable. The email warned him against approaching the police and claimed that it was one of his friends who was after him, and even asked him not to step out after 8pm on any day. He was told that his activities were being watched and his mobile was bugged: “...my boys are really on you but I told them not to kill you that I will like to contact you and see if your life is important to you and [...] your family. I called my client back and ask him of your email address which I didn’t tell him what I wanted to do with it and he gave it to me and I am using it to contact you now… Now do you want to LIVE OR DIE? (sic)”
It added, “Get back to me now if you are ready to pay some fees to spare your Life (sic),” asking him to pay $3,000 in advance. It also promised to tell him who exactly was after him.