Delhi Police, Who Arrested Waqas, Won’t Say Why
Suspected Indian Mujahideen operative Waqas Saad Shaikh, who was arrested by the Delhi police’s special cell in Jaipur on Saturday, had stayed for three days at a lodge in Bandra (West) before leaving for Rajasthan. The Delhi police has been reluctant to speak about why the terror suspect was in Mumbai.
Sources in the Delhi police’s special cell said that before coming to Mumbai, Waqas had been hiding in a safe house in Kerala for some time. “He took a train from Kerala to Mumbai, planning to go to Ajmer. We are interrogating him,” said special cell commissioner S M Srivastava.
In the past, the cell arrested several terror suspects who were initially named as wanted by the Maharashtra police. The suspects include Zabihuddin Ansari, alias Abu Jundal, the handler of the 26/11 terrorists, and 13/7 bomb planters and IM operatives Yasin Bhatkal and Asadullah Akhtar, alias Tabrez.
Was Waqas planning to help Bhatkal escape from police custody in Mumbai? Srivastava said, “Till now, it has not come up in the interrogation.” The special cell is likely to give Maharashtra’s anti-terrorism squad (ATS) the address of the Bandra lodge where Waqas stayed so that witnesses’ statements can be recorded.
Meanwhile, ATS chief Himanshu Roy has said that the squad will get a warrant from a Mumbai court to get Waqas’s custody for the July 2011 triple blasts, in which 27 people were killed. Bhatkal and Tabrez are in ATS custody. The three, before and after the 13/7 blasts, stayed at Habib Mansion in Byculla. They rented a room on the third floor of the building for Rs 8,000 and made IEDs.
Sources in the security establishment said Waqas’s facial and physical similarity with absconding IM operative Aariz Junaid Khan had delayed his arrest. “The police wanted to be sure before picking up Waqas and so they used technology to verify the suspect as Waqas,” said a source.
Khan, an Azamgarh resident, and several IM operatives were named in an FIR filed by the National Investigation Agency in June 2012. The same year, Khan’s photograph was identified as Waqas’s by a witnesses in Darbhanga, where Waqas had spent some time. “The confusion may have been due to their similar looks. This was one of the reasons the initial poster, issued by the NIA, on 12 wanted IM operatives did not carry Waqas’s photograph,” a source said.
WAQAS’S TERROR TRAIL
WAQAS SAAD SHAIKH, ALIAS JAVED, ALIAS MOTA BHAI, A NATIVE OF PAKISTAN’S PROVINCE, IS AMONG THE MOST ACTIVE MEMBERS OF INDIAN MUJAHIDEEN. HE TRAVELLED ACROSS INDIA IN SEARCH OF TERROR TARGETS
1 SEP 2010 | Waqas arrived in India via Kathmandu, along with Indian Mujahideen member Asadullah Akhtar, alias Tabrez. A week after their arrival to Samastipur, Bihar, IM co-founder Yasin Bhatkal briefed them about a plan to gun down foreigners in Delhi’s Jama Masjid. Waqas carried out the attack on September 19
2 DEC 7, 2010 | Waqas planted a bomb at Sheetalghat in Varansasi, to mark the demolition of Babri Masjid and to protest against the Allahabad high court’s order on the issue. At the time, his base of operations was Bihar
3 JAN 2011 | Waqas and Tabrez arrived in Mumbai and rented a room in Habib Mansion, Byculla. In April, he was admitted to JJ Hospital for an eye problem
4 JULY 2011 Waqas went to Mangalore to collect explosives. He assembled four bombs and planted one at Zaveri Bazaar, Mumbai, on July 13
5 FEB 21, 2013 | Waqas and Tabrez planted bombs in Dilsukhnagar, Hyderabad. Tabrez left for Samastipur, Waqas stayed in a safe house in Karnataka
6 NOV 2013 Delhi police busted an alleged Indian Mujahideen module. Waqas escaped to Goa and stayed at Anuja beach in Madgaon
7 MAR 22, 2014 Delhi police claimed to have arrested Waqas at Jaipur railway station. He was on his way to Mumbai
CASES WHERE WAQAS IS WANTED
July 2011 Mumbai triple blasts, in which 27 people died
August 2012 Pune blasts, in which one person was injured. Six bombs were planted on J M Road September 2010 Delhi Jama Masjid firing, in which two foreigners were injured and a policeman died
December 2010 blast at Sheetalghat, Varanasi, in which 15 were injured
February 2013 Hyderabad twin blasts