Salman story (too) is full of loopholes

By Majid Jahangir
New Delhi: Uttar Pradesh Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS), on 6 March 2010 claimed that the alleged “terrorist” of Indian Mujahedeen (IM) Salman Ahmad alias Chhotu, a resident of Sanjarpur village in  Azamgarh, who was arrested near Siddharthnagar on Indo-Nepal border, had participated in the Delhi, Varanasi and Gorakhpur bomb blasts.

Police also claimed that Salman had gone to Pakistan between December-January last where he met Lashkar chiefs Amir Raza Khan and Riyaz Bhatkal and received arms and ammunition training there. The police also said that he had learnt to make bombs with Atif Ameen and during the recent visit, was taught to handle other weapons and explosives.

“On the directions of Atif Ameen (alleged IM leader who was killed in the Batla House encounter in September 2008), Salman had gone to the Varanasi Courthouse on 23 November 2007, claimed a police officer adding that “He planted bombs there, and in Gorakhpur also on 22 May 2007. He was also involved in the serial blasts in Jaipur, Ahmadabad and Delhi on 13 May, 26 July and 13 September 2008, respectively.”

The Police theory about Salman seems self-defeating as far as their claim about his Pakistan visit is concerned and his role in several bomb blasts as police itself had ruled out following his arrest.

Wasim Ahmad, Salman’s uncle, while talking to The Milli Gazette said that, “ever since Batla House encounter took place, our son was missing and he never contacted us and we don’t know where he was. It is possible that police had arrested him in the wake of Batla House encounter and they are showing his arrest now. How is it possible that a boy, who is in his teens, would execute bomb blasts?” Commenting on the police claim that Salman executed many blasts including Varanasi, Delhi and Gorakhpur, Wasim Ahmad said: “Salman’s date of birth is 30 December 1992. That means when he executed the first “blast” he was only 16-years-old and when he executed the second blast, his age was 17. If we have to believe the police theory hat he executed all these blasts then we have to accept that he started carrying out blasts from his childhood itself when he was an innocent little boy not knowing the world around him. Police are telling lies. He had gone to Lucknow after passing his high school exams for further education, and only a few days later the Batla encounter took place. We had no information about him since.”

UP Ulama Council leader Maulana Aamir Rashadi strongly condemned the allegations leveled by the police against Azamgarh boys. On the arrest of Salman, he said over phone to The Milli Gazette: “Police said that Salman had gone to Pakistan for receiving arms and ammunition training. It is not understandable how a person whom police declares to be the mastermind behind the terror plans and the executer of bomb blasts could go to  Pakistan for training. Police claimed that Salman participated in anti-India activities in Nepal and then went to Pakistan. If he had executed bomb blasts successfully why he would go to Pakistan?  After having already executed blasts, why should he go for training? Is it not an irony and police’s concoction? What damn theory police is spreading! It means when he had already carried out terror activities he did not know how to handle bombs and weapons. “The story began with the arrest of Mufti Abu Bashar, who is innocent. When the then home minister, Shivraj Patil, was caught in the controversy over his frequent dress changing while Delhi was rocking with serial blasts, he made his police officers to do something to divert attention from the real issue, and police in a hush-hush manner, killed our two boys at Batla House in a fake encounter. It is obvious that ten or twenty persons who belong to the same place or area know each other. After the arrest of Mohammad Saif during the encounter he seems to have said that he knows the people who belonged to his village. Then the police started arresting Azamgarh boys. Salman and Shahzad are victims of that operation. Police are attributing just anything to these boys. They have to fill the gap of 21 persons.” Maulana strongly believes that the Congress party is playing a double game with Muslims. He told MG, “It is a new game of the Congress party to oblige Muslims. Digvijay Singh’s recent visit to Azamgarh is a signal as he insisted during the visit that speedy trial of the accused must be initiated. No doubt speedy trial will be initiated and some two or three boys would be released and others will be convicted. And then the Congress leaders may claim that what they promised has been delivered.”

Another respectable voice from Azamgarh, Professor Salman Sultan of Shibli National College, told MG over the phone that it is beyond his comprehension why the police after every arrest claims that the detainee had gone to Pakistan. “You see the police claiming about Salman that he had gone to Pakistan. Why everyone would go to Pakistan? It is interesting that when Digvijay Singh recently made his flying visit to Azamgarh, he told the local press (see the video of his press conference at _justice_denied_digvijay_azamgarh.html) that it is a fact that Zeeshan at the time of Batla House encounter was appearing for his exams, so why he was not granted bail? “People in the entire area are afraid. We don’t know what will happen,” said Prof Sultan.

It is pertinent to mention here that it is the first time when police have claimed that the alleged IM operative Salman was not arrested from his home. In other cases so far all alleged boys had been arrested from their homes. Over the arrest of the alleged members of IM from their homes, concerned people have been questioning the real locations of  those arrests.

On 1 February 2010, police had arrested another Azamgarh boy, Shahzad Ahmad, from his grandfather’s home in Azamgarh and had claimed that Shahzad had gone for pilot training. The Delhi police’s claim, later, was denied by ADGP (Law & Order) Lucknow Brij Lal who said that Shahzad took some money from his parents but he had never gone for any pilot training. The police claimed that Shahzad was planning to do a 9/11 pattern attack in India. Family of Shahzad had also denied that he was ever called “Pappu” as claimed by police repeatedly in media briefings.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 March 2010 on page no. 1

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