Special Reports

Zabiuddin or Abu Jundal? Are they one and same man?

Three men started their journey from Aurangabad in the morning of May 9, 2006. One was Amir Shakil,  Zubair and the Indica driver Mujaffar. They were going to Beed to attend a wedding but changed their plan and drove instead to Manmad and from there they went to HP Petrol Pump near Pimpalgaon. There was a Tata Sumo with the driver inside and a man standing by the Sumo. Amir introduced the man to the others. The stranger was Zabiuddin [Zabihuddin]. Zabi told Mujaffer to follow his Sumo. A couple of miles further towards Chandawad, Zabi asked the driver Azam to stop the car near a container of Aysher Company. Zabi talked to the two men on the container. Then they took out ten cartons and loaded them into the Sumo. Five more were loaded in the Indica. Thereafter Zabi got into the Indica and told Mujaffar to follow the Sumo in which Zubair and Amir were also sitting now. The Sumo reached Manmad-Yeola junction on the Aurangabad road. It was six in the evening. ACP Kisan Shengal and another police officer called Sunil Deshmukh were present there along with other policemen. They were from the ATS deputed on the special duty to intercept the Sumo and arrest the riders who were carrying explosives, guns and ammunition. But the driver of the Sumo sped away. In the meantime, Zabi had taken the Indica to Malegaon and reached the octroi post at Motibag naka. He took a call from Dr Sharif Shabbir Ahmed and told Mujaffar to drive back and stop at Tibbiya College Mansoora. They dumped the five cartons in the RMO office and drove on the new Agra road and came to Chandanpuri naka. Zabi did not want to cross it because he had come there earlier thinking it was the octroi post leading to Dhulia. He feared that the octroi people would recognize him; yet they drove on. Then Zabiuddin gave the key and the car to Dr Sharif to take care and departed for Aurangabad by bus via Chalisgaon. Mujaffar travelled separately.  

Zabiuddin or Abu Jundal? Are they one and same man?

On June 21, 2012 the Delhi police arrested a man extradited from Saudi Arabia and called him “Abu Jundal”. The man known previously as Zabiuddin was now “Abu Jundal”. Doubts arise about the sea-change of an individual's personality or are they two different personae? Zabi was a police informer and worked for the superintendent of police of Beed and repaired his electricity supply occasionally. He also eked out his existence by part-timing as a police informer. Is it thinkable that in just over two years, this simple youth could go through a complete change and be with Hafiz Saeed and other important members of the Pakistani terror outfit and sit in the control room in Karachi directing the operation on November 26, 2008?  If he taught Hindi to the 10 terrorists involved in the attack, it could have been very casual. The Pakistanis are fond of Bollywood films and watch them with avid interest. They could easily learn the Mumbai lingo from the movies!

The police say he had fled to Pakistan. But they had failed to do anything to trace him from where he had handed over the Indica to Dr Sharif. If Police were really on alert and on watchout for the arms haul on May 9, 2006, why did they not bother to trace the Indica for such a long time? Moreover, the car was left roaming in the city for four full days. How could the ATS claim that Sharif and others wanted to destroy the car. The car could not be hidden in Tibbiya College Mansoora or the lumber yard or vakhar of Mustaque. If they really wanted to destroy it, why did they roam in it for more than three days? This is a poignant question as the ATS claims to have been on the lookout for this particular car and knew how deadly a consignment it was carrying.  

Zabi also named the other accused in the arms haul case and got them arrested when they were not involved in any illegal arms transfer or sale. Five of these accused are from Malegaon: Dr Mohammad Sharif Shabbir Ahmed, Riyaz Ahmed Mohammad Ramzan, Mohammad Javid Abdul Majid, Afzal Gulam Nabi Ahmed and Mustaque Ahmed Mohammad Ishaque. They had never met the other accused or had any previous contact with them. Their arrest was made on account of the false information given to the police by Zabi. This gives credence to the popular belief that he was in contact with the police or was in their custody. If he gave the cops the slip after abandoning the car with Sharif, he could have tried to escape the police who would have killed him in an “encounter” if he went against their directions.

Another puzzling question is: why they dumped only two wooden boxes containing ammunition and a CPU containing one AK 47 in the well near the culvert around the curve of the Manmad Yeola road in Ankai? The police was chasing them and when in such a hurry, how could they conveniently go to the well to dump only these and not the whole consignment? Was Zabi under close watch of the chasing police? He may have abandoned the Indica to destroy his trail in order to escape the police.

There is another dimension to the case as far as the alleged role of Pius Agarwal of Santosh Cycle, Malegaon, is concerned. He has allegedly told a caller that he and some associates had put the two wooden boxes and a CPU in the well of Ankai and given a list of names which would match their purpose. This they had done at the instance of the SP Rajwardhan and that Rajwardhan had lifted the dumped material. There would be a further meeting of Pius and his associates with Rajwardhan at an appointed place.  

Even more complicating is the elusive “Ahmad” of Nasik as reported at http://blogs.hindustantimes.com/inside-story/2012/06/27/indian-agencies-hit-a-goldmine-in-abu-jundal/:

“He (Abu Jindal) disclosed how he picked up 16 AK-47 rifles and 43 kilograms of RDX from one Ahmed in Nashik and brought them to Aurangabad before the arms seizure on May 9, 2006.”

Who is this “one Ahmed”? Is he Abrar Ahmed whose story is sometimes headlined with the name of the district Nasik rather than the town Malegaon which happens in Nasik district? Or the one who is involved in a crime committed in Nasik but has played a crucial role in the blasts of 2006? In either case, more dangerous is the man who handed Jindal the consignment of the RDX.

This “Ahmed” could certainly be another police informer or else how could such confidential transfer be made viable in the face of the ATS manning the checkposts all along the route and the cars moving with the consignment so clearly visible and protruding? As Hindustan Times of February 8, 2010 reported, “As a double agent, Ansari led the Intelligence Bureau and the Maharashtra police to the biggest arms haul outside Jammu and Kashmir in the last 10 years…If he (Zabi) had helped further, we could have unearthed the entire link,” said Sunil Deshmukh.

In February 2010, India according to the then home minister Chidambrum had no voice print of Zabi (Indian suspected of 26/11 role once worked for India, double agent state electrician led cops to biggest haul in decade, now enemy - Hindustan Times, 8 Feb., 2010 - http://www.hindustantimes.com/News-Feed/India/26-11-indian-suspect-once-worked-for-india/Article1-506534.aspx).

Such huge was the consignment of arms and RDX that it would be impossible to rule out police involvement in the movement of the culprits and the transport. From the Tata Sumo 30 kg of RDX, 10 AK 47 assault rifles, 2000 live rounds, 40 magazines, 10 pouches, in the Indica there were 13 kg of RDX, 5 AK 47 rifles, 1000 live cartridges, 20 magazines and 4 pouches were recovered. In the Ankai seizure, there were 50 hand grenades, one AK 47 rifle, 200 live rounds, two magazines and one pouch of RDX.

When a delegation from Malegaon pointed out some of these discrepancies in a letter to the chairman of the National Commission for Minorities, Wajahat Habibullah, he observed in his letter to the then Home Minister Chidambaram on 12 July, 2012: “I am forwarding this letter to you to bring to your attention the widespread impression, particularly in the Muslim community, that they are automatic targets of police action in incidents of terrorist activity. This is further confounded in the state of Maharashtra by the Abu Jindal disclosure, from which state Zabihuddin hails, and apparently worked for the Maharashtra police as electrician and also informer.”

“It is the contention of a delegation that called on this Commission from Malegaon that individuals arrested prior to the Malegaon blast cases on charges of stocking explosives were arrested solely on grounds of information provided by the said Abu Jindal, which they allege was invented,” he said in his letter.

The police and essentially ATS Maharashtra have badly botched up investigations by randomly putting on accused in whichever cases they felt they need Muslims to frame up. For example, Mohammad Ali was arrested in 2006 blasts and was one of the nine accused. As a matter of fact, he was present in the Kurla police station when the bombs blew up on September 8, 2006. The only ‘offense’ he seemed to have committed was to go to the police in Kurla along with Dr Salman Farsi and complain against an illegal video parlor. Dr Salman too was booked in the 2006 blast in Malegaon. Mohammad Ali was also framed in the train blasts of July 11, 2006. But he was from Mumbai and another from outside Malegaon was Asif Bashir Junaid Khan. His fault was that he was a former SIMI member. The banned Muslim students outfit bars anyone above 30 to be its member. Asif, now 41, was much older anyway. As an engineer, he had left Jalgaon and settled in Mira Road in Thane-Mumbai. It is likely that Muslims of Mira Road were better off and were an eyesore for the ATS and the police and hence he was picked up for the arms haul (May 2006), Mumbai train blasts of July 11, 2006 and Malegaon blasts of the same year.   

There is a network of police informers which is behind the Aurangabad arms haul and other such cases. Zabi was one of these informers and the other suspected informer was the above-mentioned “one Ahmed” from Nasik. Another informer, Abrar, is well-known by now. Suspicion also lurks about the role that Mufti Ismail, now MLA, played in 2006 and particularly in the midnight of 15 May, 2006. A local reporter casts doubts at the role of Mufti who was not a political leader then. Around that midnight, arms and ammunitions were seized from Abdullah electric shop across the road from the Azad Nagar Police Station. “After midnight, the arms and explosives were taken to Himatnager police quarters. Later in the midnight, Rajwardhan held a press conference and arrested five Muslim youths. Mufti Ismail reached there at this midnight hour. He was neither a reporter of any newspaper nor was he a member of any political party. His presence there and the way he talked to Rajwardhan and the offensive actions he showed (harkaten), made people realise “what kind of man he was.” Former MLA Nihal Ahmad always called this Mufti as an arch police informer. These may be political differences of opinion but they highlight the murky side that is simply puzzling to say the least. The reporter goes further and says that soon after the blasts of September 8, 2006, the Mufti after leading the Friday prayer at the central mosque remarked to the reporters that the explosions were the result of two cars colliding and it is not bomb blasts. He also proffered himself to sit in the police van and go round the town asking people to maintain peace. “Dar asl yeh Rajwardhan ki dosti kar wa rahi thi. In ki dosti corporation election aur assembly election se mazid manzar aam par aayee” (It was Mufti’s close friendship with Rajwardhan that was propelling this. The secret of this relationship became clear in the forthcoming corporation election [which his party won four months later] and assembly elections [which he ultimately won]). Abbas concludes that “baygunah Muslim nawjawanon ko bomb dhamakon mein phasane-wale SP Rajwardhan kay yeh khasul khas hain” (Mufti Ismail is the special friend of Rajwardhan who framed the Muslim youths) (Discipline, January 10, 2011).

There was allegedly hardly any change in Mufti’s stance as he continued to wrangle with Abrar’s family blaming them as police informers receiving kickbacks and commission. This he did from no other place than the sanctum sanctorum of the Idgah maidan.

But then a bolt from the blue changed all that as the confession of Aseemanand was made public by Tehelka on January 7, 2011 and even the present writer in his article of January 3, 2011, made it clear that Aseemanand was responsible for the 2006 blasts (Commonalty blog). On January 10, a delegation of Muslims visited the chief minister of Maharashtra to press for the release of the bomb blasts accused in the light of the said confession. Strangely enough, the sitting Malegaon MLA Mufti Ismail abstained from the meeting. Former MLA Suhail Lokhandwalla called his absence as the disappearance of horns from the head of a donkey.     

Aurangabad arms haul case of 2006, Mumbai train blasts of July 2006, Malegaon bomb blasts of 2006 and 2008 and some other cases have a common link. The RDX used in all these must have had a common source -- either from the accused Lt. Col. Shrikant Purohit’s stock or the stock of Shanker Shelke of Ahmednager, or from the seizures in Jammu & Kashmir. Shelke killed himself the very next day of 2006 Malegaon blasts. Such murders or suicides open a can of lies and if there is a suspicion that Police or their informers are involved, it is all the more serious an issue for the security of the nation and unity of the country.

The lessons that we learn are numerous. One, that the police should not use informers for dubious purposes. Two, they should not use informers to commit crimes that violate the Constitution of India in letter and spirit. Three, if the Delhi police arrests Abu Jundal because of the truculence that the ATS of Maharashtra had arrested Delhi police’s informer Naquee, this clearly shows one-upmanship and turf war that does no one any good. Four, to implicate an innocent Indian in a crime by the police, must not be allowed by any means and for any purpose. Hence the need of the hour is what Vice President Hamid Ansari argued in his Kao Memorial Lecture that the investigation agencies should be under the observation of a Parliamentary committee of experts.