SIX YEARS before the Delhi Police Special Cell arrested Zafar Masood, 37, on December 17 last year for alleged links with al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), the cell gave him a clean chit in 2009.
On April 4, 2009, Masood and Mohammad Usman, both residents of Deepa Sarai village in Sambhal district of Uttar Pradesh, had filed surrender applications through their lawyer in the court of the chief metropolitan magistrate, Delhi. The duo had alleged that the Delhi Police Special Cell personnel were visiting their houses at odd hours.
In their pleas, accessed by The Indian Express, Masood and Usman expressed fears that the police would falsely implicate them in a case related to the arrests of two alleged Harkat-ul-Mujahideen operatives, Maqsood Ahmad and Syed Mohammad, both Pakistani nationals (493/01 under IPC Sections 120, 121, 121-A, 120-B read with 3/4/5 Explosives Act, 14 Foreigners Act lodged at New Friends Colony police station, Delhi in 2001).
The Special Cell later arrested Asad Hilal and Habib-ur-Rehman, both residents of Deepa Sarai, on charges of providing shelter and support to the alleged Pakistani terrorists.
Masood and Usman stated in their pleas that if there was any incriminating evidence against them, they were ready to face trial before the court. They asked the court to seek a report from the Special Cell to know whether al-Qaeda links got clean chit in 2009 they were required in the case, so that they could surrender before the court.
When the court sought a reply from the police, Satendra Sangwan, then Inspector, Special Cell (New Delhi), said Masood and Usman were not proclaimed offenders in the case, and hence they were not required. He said four persons had already been arrested in the case and a chargesheet had been filed.
On April 8, 2009, the court disposed off the surrender applications filed by Masood and Usman.
When contacted, DCP (Special Cell) Pramod Kushwaha, who is supervising the investigation related to Masood, said: “I will not comment on the matter as the case is still under investigation.”
Arvind Deep, Special Commissioner, Delhi Police Special Cell, also declined comment when he was asked about the clean chit given to Masood in 2009.
Meanwhile, Masood’s uncle, Mohammad Saud, alleged that the police had been trying to implicate Masood since 2009. “Police teams used to raid his house regularly so that they could implicate him. He moved court, where the Special Cell made it clear that he was not wanted in the case. After six years, when another man from our village, Mohammad Asif, was arrested, police implicated him in a false case,” alleged Saud.
Masood is alleged to have provided funds to Asif and two others for going to Pakistan for training. According to Saud, Masood was returning from a wedding in Moradabad, with his wife and two chldren, when he was arrested.