Delhi-based lawyer Shailendra Singh Jaat, who has been arrested for his alleged role in a 16-year-old abduction case, on Wednesday told Rajkot police that the car said to be used in the crime was destroyed in an accident in 2002-03.
The Gujarat Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) had arrested Shailendra Sunday midnight from his New Delhi residence in connection with the abduction of Rajkot-based jewellers Bhaskar Parekh and Paresh Shah on November 12, 2000, in which the ransom was allegedly used to fund terror activities. On Tuesday, a Rajkot court had sent Jaat in a six-day police remand.
“The accused, during interrogation, has confessed that he used to lend his car to his cousins Surajprakash Saheb Singh Jaat and Pradeepkumar Anar Singh Jaat, frequently. Shailendra said he had lent the car during the time of the crime, but claimed that he was not aware of the kidnapping. He also claimed that the car was reduced to scrap after it was involved in a road accident in 2002-03,” said a top officer of the Detection of Crime Branch (DCB), Rajkot.
Shailendra, according to ATS officials, was part of a gang comprising Asif Reza Khan, his brother Aamir, Aftab Ansari and others who were alleged founding members of Indian Mujahideen (IM).
It is said that the abduction was carried out by Dubai-based mafia and Jaish-e-Mohammed operatives with help from local gangs.
According to investigators, the abductors had demanded Rs 20 crore from the parents of Parekh and Shah. After their abduction, Parekh was kept at a house in New Palam Vihar in Gurgaon, while Shah was taken to a village in Walia taluka in Bharuch from where he was rescued by police on November 26, 2000.
Parents of Parekh paid Rs 1.5 crore to the abductors, following which he was left in a Santro car near a hospital in Delhi on December 1, 2000, they said, adding that the car belonged to Shailendra.
“He admitted that he had bought the car, but the vehicle was registered in the name of Manish Gupta, who had financed its purchase. According to statements of other accused, the car in question bore registration DL HF 4258. But Shailendra says the number does not match. So, we are in the process of verifying the number. We are also trying to access papers of insurance of the car,” the DCB officer said.
According to the DCB, Surajaprakash, Pradeepkumar and Pradeekumar’s friend Sanjay Ramchand Jaat had released Parekh near Addition Hospital in Delhi.
Shailendra is the 52nd accused to be arrested in the case. Two accused in the case were killed in separate encounters following the abduction, while one accused, Aftab Ansari, has been convicted for his role in the January 22, 2002, attack on American Center in Kolkata in which five people were killed.