The Gujarat Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) on Tuesday arrested a wanted man from Hyderabad in connection with the 2003 alleged “jihadi conspiracy”case. The man, originally from Ahmedabad, was evading the law for the past 12 years. He is also alleged to have played a role in the murder of BJP leader Haren Pandya.
According to ATS officials 50-year-old Gulam Zafar Gulam Husain Sheikh was reportedly “hiding” at IAS colony, Hakim Pet, Hyderbad since 2003. Officials said that Sheikh is an accused in the “jihadi or ISI conspiracy” case which was allegedly hatched to avenge 2002 post Godhra riots with the help of Pakistan-based terrorist organisations such as Jaish-e-Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Taiba among others.
Last year, the Ahmedabad Detection of Crime Branch (DCB) had arrested Hyderabad-based Muslim cleric Abdul Qavi in this case who is out on bail. Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Himanshu Shukla said that Sheikh is accused of supplying bullets and weapons to co-accused involved in Haren Pandya murder case. Interestingly, Shukla was the DCP in Crime Branch last year when he arrested Qavi from Delhi airport.
According to ATS officials Sheikh had supplied .32 bore 140 cartridges to co-accused Mohammad Zahir Iqbal Sheikh who was arrested earlier. Officials said that soon after Sheikh’s name was cropped up, he left Ahmedabad and started living in Hyderabad where he stayed in a rented flat with his wife and three children. A non-bailable warrant was issued against by a special court in Ahmedabad.
“A tenth pass Sheikh was driving a rented matador in Ahmedabad. To avenge loss of Muslim lives and properties in the 2002 riots following Godhra train carnage he acted at the instance of Pakistan ISI, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish e Mohammad type terrorist organisations and participated in hatching conspiracy to spread terror in Ahmedabad and India with other accused,” ATS press release stated.
In 2010, a POTA court had convicted 22 persons and acquitted 22 accused in this case. Besides, underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, Mufti Sufiyan Patangia, Rasool Party and others are among the wanted accused. Sufiyan and Party are also wanted in the killing of former minister of state for home Haren Pandya who was murdered on March 26, 2003.
The case was busted by Detection of Crime Branch in 2003 led by DG Vanzara, retired IPS accused in fake encounter killings of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, Ishrat Jahan among others case. The DCB had claimed with the help of Sufiyan and Rasool Party Muslim boys from madrasa and other places in Gujarat were allegedly recruited by terrorist organisations to avenge the Godhra riots.