Qateel Ahmad Siddiqui,an alleged Indian Mujahideen operative being probed for his role in terror attacks across the country,was found murdered in his cell at the Yerawada Central Jail in Pune this morning,prompting the government to suspend the jail superintendent and order a CID probe.
Pune Deputy Commissioner of Police Dnyaneshwar Chavan said Qateel was strangled,allegedly by jail inmates Sharad Hiraman Mohol and Alok Bhalerao who are facing charges under the MCOCA.
Chavan claimed a petty dispute led to the murder but Maharashtra Home Minister R R Patil said the killing would be probed by the state CID.
In Nabi Karim in Delhi,Qateels wife Fatima,who is eight months pregnant with their second child,wouldnt take her eyes off the TV screen once she heard news of his death: My husband is not a terrorist. I know the man I married. He was a good worker. He didnt deserve to die this way. Their first-born,daughter Maria,is barely 18 months old.
Siddiqui,Mohol and Bhalerao were lodged in the Anda Cell of Yerawada Jail. They were let out at 9.30 am for a bath. Chavan said Mohol and Bhalerao used a pyajama string to strangle Siddiqui.
Siddiqui was arrested by Delhi Police on November 22,2011.
He was being probed for his alleged role in the blasts at the German Bakery in Pune (February 13,2010),Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore (April 17,2010) and the attack at Jama Masjid in Delhi (September 19,2010). His name also figured in an alleged attempt to bomb the Dagdusheth Halwai Ganesh temple in Pune.
The Maharashtra ATS took Qateel to Pune but did not include his name as an accused in the bakery blast chargesheet. He was named an accused in the bid to blow up the Dagdusheth temple.
Advocates A Rehman and Kaynat Ali Shaikh,counsels for Siddiqui and bakery blast accused Mirza Himayat Inayat Baig,were in court where the bakery blast trial is on when they heard of Siddiquis murder. Baig burst into tears. I have made an oral submission in court for extra security to Baig in view of this murder, Rehman said.
Incidentally,Qateel was named an accused in the Jama Masjid attack case on the day he died. The chargesheet,filed by the Special Team of Delhi Police,said the attack on two Taiwanese tourists was masterminded by Yasin Bhatkal,one of Indias most wanted terrorists.
Police claimed that Qateel and Mohammed Adil,a Pakistan national,carried out a recce of the area before the attack and Qateel later opened fire. Police said there was enough evidence against him but wife Fatima denied the allegations.
Fatima and Qateel married six years ago in a quiet ceremony in Darbhanga,Bihar. Starting out as a plumber,he picked up construction work in Loni near Delhi where he worked with Gauhar Aziz Khomani,another alleged IM operative who is also under arrest.
Qateel ran an electronics shop in Nabi Karim. Our parents knew each other well. He would stay with me all the time. I never found anything suspicious about his work, Fatima said.
I was in touch with my husband for a few weeks after his arrest. I even met him once in Tihar Jail. Five days ago,when I called the same number,a man answered,saying Maharashtra ATS,who is this? I told him I was Qateels wife,that I need to talk to him. The voice at the other end said paanch din mein sab pata chal jayega (you will know everything in five days), she said,adding that she wanted the murder probed.