25 Jan. 2012The Maharashtra ATS claims to have cracked the 13/7 blasts case. Its chief has revealed in a press conference that Indian Mujahideen was behind the Mumbai blasts. And yet, the Ministry of Home Affairs remains far from impressed—indeed, it appears rather irritated. And the press, also unusually, has been circumspect about his revelations. The ATS Chief says that he did not want to call a press conference. But the rumours about Naquee’s IB links were threatening the credibility of the ATS. Such were his compulsions when he launched into a monologue about the ‘breakthrough’ his team—under his guidance of course—had achieved.
Despite his loud proclamations however, there are few who are willing to buy the ATS’ arguments. Here are some issues for the ATS Chief to mull over:
Cracking the Case: The case was cracked within a day of Naquee being brought to Mumbai by the Special Cell. Did the Maharashtra ATS ever visit Delhi to pick up/question Naquee? It simply pounced upon him within moments of the Special Cell ‘abandoning’ Naquee in Mumbai after completing their own investigation work.
The Arrest of Naquee Ahmed: The ATS Chief in his press conference clearly said that the arrest was made on 12th January 2012. His family alleges that he was picked up on the night of 9th January. Not only this, his brothers Rafi and Razi were also detained by the ATS. Nadeem was also arrested the same night. Did Naquee just walk into the ATS office and offer himself up, or was the ATS tailing him? If they had him on surveillance, surely they knew how closely he was working with the Special Cell; his numerous trips to the Special Cell and their regular phone calls to him?
Naquee’s Mumbai Trips: The ATS boss says that Naquee had been visiting Mumbai’s Madanpura area since September-October 2010. Would he explain why the last two of those trips were made in the company of Delhi Police Special Cell? And may it be said that Naquee was not brought to Mumbai under detention or arrest.
Evidence Galore: Clothes of Naquee and Nadeem have been recovered from the house where the main suspects lived, claimed the Chief. Is the Chief familiar with their wardrobe and sartorial preferences—in the absence of any forensics tests—to claim that clothes belonging to Naquee and Nadeem have been recovered?
Stolen Bikes: The ATS says that these bikes would have been used in future terror acts. Implicating people in future conspiracies, where evidence need not be produced because the act hasn’t taken place at all is the oldest trick in the police armour. If indeed those bikes are stolen (the family disputes it), then book Naquee and Nadeem for theft, Chief, not under UAPA.
Money Trail: The Chief was emphatic that Rs 1.5 Lakhs had passed through Naquee’s hands but could not explain when asked where the monies had come from. “Hawala”, he mumbled, and insisted that the investigations were still on. So, if the investigations were still on and nothing conclusive had been arrived at, why make grandiose claims in a press conference?
Harassment of Naquee’s family: While the ATS Chief grandly declared that over 12000 witnesses were questioned, we have no way of knowing how many of them were questioned in illegal detention. Will the ATS Chief kindly explain why Naquee Ahmed’s elder brothers were detained? Why has his brother’s workshop of trolley bags been turned into a fortress, and reporters and outsiders denied access to them?
ATS-Special Cell – Healthy Competition! Yes, there is competition, but no rivalry. The chief of ATS made a brave attempt at presenting a picture of blissful bonhomie between the ATS and Special Cell (“The head of Special Cell is my batch mate!”) But we saw the ATS team in Delhi grilling Naquee’s brother about what the Special Cell knew—about what he heard Naquee telling the Special Cell. If the two agencies are so friendly, should not they be sharing information rather than harassing and hounding family members? Why has the ATS been after Naquee’s brother? Too often we have seen these agencies turning into predators, consuming those very men it seeks out for help and cooperation. The Special Cell may be crying buckets now, but they have implicated IB informers as dreaded terrorists (remember Qamar and Irshad) earlier. The cut-throat grey world of unaccounted powers and funds ‘to tackle terror’ has veered out of control.
One last thing, does the Commissioner of Delhi Police feel no moral and ethical compulsion to officially and formally state the simple truth that Naquee was helping his department in their investigation?
Released by JTSA (24th January 2012)