March 1, 2020 3:54:21 am
The family of the 22-year-old who was produced on Friday by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) as its first arrest in the Pulwama terror attack case has claimed that he has been in police custody since December 7 last year.
Shakir Bashir Magrey’s mother Jameela told The Sunday Express that in the over two months he had been in custody,
Shakir had come home for just an hour, on February 17, before re-arrest. The family members said they had come to Srinagar on Friday as they had been told he would be let off, when they heard he had been named in the Pulwama case.
The NIA claimed a “major breakthrough” with the arrest of Shakir, saying he was a Jaish-e-Mohammed operative who had helped shelter Adil Ahmad Dar, the alleged bomber behind the attack that killed 40 CRPF personnel in February last year. Shakir was produced before the NIA Special Court at Jammu and remanded to 15 days’ NIA custody for “detailed interrogation”.
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Not denying Shakir had been in their custody, a police officer privy to the case told The Sunday Express his name “had figured in militancy cases”.
On Saturday morning, Shakir’s father Bashir Ahmad, who owns a furniture shop, was taken by the security forces for “questioning”. Late on Friday night and on Saturday morning, security forces conducted a search of the Magrey home in Hajibal village of Kakapora in Pulwama district. Several rooms of the house have been sealed by the forces, leaving only three open.
Denying the NIA’s claims, Jameela, who kept breaking down, said, “Police had told us Shakir would be released on Friday and he can go home. His father and grandfather went to Srinagar and had even signed a bond before a tehsildar, who then directed his release.”
Said grandfather Ghulam Mohammed, “As Shakir came out, some people were waiting outside and took him. We came to know later that he had been arrested by the NIA.” Jameela said they had no information where he had been taken.
A senior officer in Srinagar confirmed that Shakir had been released on bail by a tehsildar (magistrate) Friday following his “preventive detention”. Pulwama SP Ashish Mishra said he had no information about Shakir being in police custody.
The family said Shakir was innocent. “I can’t believe my son was involved in such activities. He would leave in the morning to work at his father’s shop and return only in the evening,” Jameela said.
Shakir’s elder brother Mohammed Imran said Shakir was first arrested last July. “He was released after more than a week.” Then, on December 7, family members said, the security forces again picked him up and took him to Srinagar. “They wouldn’t tell us the reason he was arrested,” Jameela said.
On February 17, the mother said, Shakir was released and was home only an hour when “he received a call from the Srinagar police”. “He went to Srinagar and since then had been in custody.”
On the NIA’s statement Friday that Shakir “has further revealed that he had harboured Adil Ahmad Dar and Pakistani terrorist Mohammad Umar Farooq in his house from late 2018 till the attack in February 2019, and assisted them in the preparation of the IED”, Jameela said no one had ever stayed at their home. “We don’t know anything regarding it. It is not true.”
Villagers have been coming to the Magrey home to console Jameela. One of them, refusing to be identified, said, “If Shakir was involved in the Pulwama bombing, why did they announce it now, after keeping him in custody all these months? Why did police call the family and tell them to take him home? If Shakir was involved in such a big case, why had police not revealed his involvement since December? These are some questions which need an answer.”
In the over year old Pulwama case, Shakir’s is the first arrest made by the NIA, announced a day after one of the “overground workers” arrested in the case was given bail for lack of evidence. All the others named by the NIA as accused in the case are dead, killed either in the bombing or in subsequent encounters.
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