Hours after a Special Cell team of the Delhi Police claimed to have arrested a close aide of Pulwama attack mastermind Mudassir Khan, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) said the accused arrested by the police is not the same man wanted in the terror attack case.
The man, Sajjad Ahmed Khan, was arrested by a Special Cell team from Lal Qila area after they got “inputs pertaining to his movements”, police said. Deputy Commissioner of Police (Special Cell) Pramod Singh Kushwah claimed that Sajjad “may not be the same man wanted in the Pulwama terror attacks”, but “Mudassir had contacted the accused over WhatsApp informing that the Pulwama attack was carried out” and “also sent a video of the suicide bomber, which was later deleted by the accused”.
The NIA spokesperson, meanwhile, said, “Sajjad arrested by the Special Cell is not the same Sajjad wanted in the Pulwama case.” Police have, however, arrested him under an open FIR already filed by the NIA. A month after Pulwama attack, NIA had filed an “open FIR” against Jaish-e-Mohammad and its leaders to “nab JeM underground cadres” or “sympathisers” and to stop future attacks.
“It was an NIA case. It had nothing to do with the Special Cell, but since Mudassir was sending Sajjad WhatsApp messages and a video pertaining to the Pulwama attack, he may also be involved in the conspiracy,” Kushwah said. According to his counsel M S Khan, the agency has sought 10-day custody. He was produced before Additional Sessions Judge Rakesh Syal under tight security, and remanded in NIA custody till March 29.
Before the remand proceedings, the NIA investigators questioned Sajjad for about 30 minutes inside the courtroom. Kushwah alleged that “Sajjad was in Delhi since December, working under the guise of a shawl seller”. The DCP further claimed Sajjad was tasked with recruiting youths for the Jaish-e-Mohammad in Uttar Pradesh and other states. “The accused was trying to procure weapons, recruit youngsters and had carried out reconnaissance of important installations in the capital,” DCP Kushwah alleged.
Police claimed the accused got involved with the JeM after his two elder brothers, alleged to be former members of the militant outfit, died in an exchange of fire with security agencies.
“Sajjad left his studies after failing to clear class X exams. He and his brothers were involved in several incidents of stone pelting. His elder brother was in contact with Noor Mohammad Tantrey, who was earlier arrested by Special Cell and later killed by security forces in 2017.
His second brother died along with Usman Haider, the nephew of Maulana Masood Azhar, in an exchange of fire with security forces,” Kushwah alleged.