A day after two alleged terror suspects arrested by the Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad were sent to judicial custody, ATS officials said they are yet to ascertain their links to the “Delhi terror module” case and to the Mumbai man who was among the six arrested by the Delhi Police Special Cell last week.
ATS officials also said they had not established all the details of an alleged terror plot in which autorickshaw driver Zakir Hussain Shaikh and Rizwan Momin, a teacher, are alleged to be involved.
The officials, who did not wish to identify themselves, said they were yet to ascertain the links between these two and Jan Mohamed Shaikh, arrested by the Delhi Police Special Cell last week for his alleged involvement in a plot to unleash a terrorist attack in the national capital during the upcoming festive season.
In a departure from the usual practice, the ATS did not seek custody of the two men for further interrogation.
Zakir was first arrested in 2001 for his involvement in a plot to assassinate BJP leader L K Advani. Zakir’s brother, who was also wanted in that case, is believed to have fled to Pakistan, where he is said to be working with Chota Shakeel, a brother of Dawood Ibrahim.
Zakir’s arrest led to Rizwan, according to officials. He has no record of any criminal case. He was picked up on Saturday and subsequently arrested under relevant sections for destruction of evidence, as he had destroyed Zakir’s mobile phone on Zakir’s instructions and thrown it into a drain.
ATS investigators said the 52-year-old Zakir, a rickshaw driver from Jogeshwari, was in touch with “Anthony alias Anwar alias Anas”, who has also been named in the FIR against Zakir. Officials said it was a fictitious name being used by Zakir’s alleged Pakistan-based handler who was in touch with him from a Malaysian phone number. Anthony had asked Zakir to rope in more people for “terror attacks”, the officials said, but were yet to ascertain the details of this plan.
An investigator said, “Several suspects have been on our radar and, like Sheikh, we were keeping a close eye on Zakir and Rizwan. It was just a coincidence that these two got arrested days after Sheikh was picked up by Delhi police.”
The investigators said that Zakir had stayed at Rizwan’s Mumbra home from September 14-17, where he handed over his phone to him and asked him to destroy it. Zakir and Rizwan met a few years ago at a spiritual leader’s house in Bandra.
“Rizwan had thrown the phone in a nullah near his house and luckily we managed to recover it because there is a gate in the nullah on which the three pieces got stuck,” said an investigator.
ATS officials believe that Zakir’s Pakistan-based brother put him in touch with “Anthony”. However, Zakir’s story is that he got in touch with this person for a soap business that he was planning to start.
The ATS has also obtained a bank statement of Zakir which, according to them, has “suspicious” transactions. Zakir was earlier arrested in an extortion case in 2016.
The police are also trying to find out whether “Anthony” had ever visited India and met Zakir in person.