THE Anti-Terrorism Squad has tracked Ayyaz Sultan, one of the four men missing from Malwani area of Mumbai, to Kabul. Officials said they were now trying to gather intelligence on whether he had joined any terror outfit.
Wajid Sheikh, one of the four missing men who was found in Pune and brought to Mumbai on Tuesday, has told investigators that he and two others from the locality decided to leave the city after the local police started rigorously pursuing the missing complaint lodged by Sultan’s family, officials said.
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He claimed they feared the police would “harass” them because of the proximity they shared with Sultan.
ATS officials said they had gathered intelligence that Sultan was in Kabul on his own passport. Sultan had allegedly asked the trio to reach Chennai and meet an agent, who would help them make their passports. The ATS is also on the lookout for a local clergyman who might have radicalised the four.
“There is intelligence that suggests Sultan travelled to Kabul on his own passport. He took a direct flight from Delhi. We are now trying to find out if he has joined any terror outfit,” said an official.
“While Wajid claims that they went to Chennai as they feared being probed by the Mumbai Police, we have found out that he and the other two youths went to Chennai to make their passports on the orders of Sultan and a local clergyman. However, their passport forms could not be processed for want of rent agreements,”said the official.
“The trio then decided to return, but by then the news of them going missing was being shown on news channels.
The other two deserted Wajid. We, through our informant network, managed to trace him and he was picked up while travelling,” the official added.
The ATS has been questioning Wajid at its headquarters ever since he was brought back to Mumbai. “Wajid claims that Sultan’s family registered a missing complaint on October 30 and since he was one of his close friends, the family used to trouble him a lot and question him about Sultan’s whereabouts,” said a senior official from the counter-terrorism agency.
“However, after a missing complaint was registered and the three youths learnt that the local police were pursuing the matter seriously, they were afraid of being questioned.They then hatched a plan and fled to Chennai,” the official said.
According to sources, Wajid and the two other youths have been on the move ever since they went missing on December 15.
“While Wajid stole some jewellery and managed to raise Rs 18,000, the other two were also carrying petty cash with them… However, some days ago, the three decided to part ways so that they are not tracked,” said the official, who is privy to Wajid’s statement to the ATS.
Meanwhile, Wajid’s family said they were happy that he had returned. Aslam, his brother-in-law, said Wajid had a troubled marriage and therefore he decided to flee.
Four youths, all residents of the Malwani locality in Malad West, went missing from their homes between October and the second week of December.
While Sultan is said to be in Kabul and Wajid has been found, the police and the ATS are yet to trace the other two — Mohsin Sheikh, an autorickshaw driver, and Noor Sheikh, who did odd jobs for a living.