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Delhi police file, withdraw affidavit in Liaquat Shah case

Authors: Hakeem Irfan, Soma Basu

The controversial Liaquat Shah case is turning out to be a major embarrassment for the Delhi police, who are deploying all possible tactics and making u-turns to protect tainted officials placed in its Special Cell.

In a major setback, Delhi police withdrew an application filed against NIA’s chargesheet in the Liaquat Shah case within hours after filing it with the special court of NIA on February 3.

According to well-placed sources, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval had summoned Delhi police chief BS Bassi and persuaded him to withdraw the application to avoid any sort of confrontation between the two investigating agencies. NIA, in its chargesheet, has accused Special Cell officials of falsely implicating Liaquat Shah in a terror case.

Earlier, Bassi himself had given ‘written’ clearance for filing the application on behalf of the Special Cell officials with the NIA court. The application says that the Delhi police are the original complainant in the Shah case.

The Delhi police had given several evidences against accused Shah, but NIA drew erroneous conclusion by not considering those evidences. Thus the Delhi police, the application contests, must be given an opportunity to defend its officials before the court takes any decision on NIA chargesheet filed against them.

Within hours, this application was reportedly withdrawn and instead the Delhi police wrote in its withdrawal application that it will file an application/affidavit at an appropriate time.

When asked about the developments, Bassi said, “Please don’t go by rumours. I will talk to you after the police-week celebrations end in about ten days.” Bassi had ardently supported his Special Cell team operation.

NSA could not be contacted for confirmation.

NIA counsel Shilpa Singh, however, confirmed that the Delhi police had filed an application in the court and then withdrew it. “They had stated that they don’t want to press the application. And we (NIA) were not provided with the copy of the application,” Singh told dna.

NIA chargesheet has blamed Delhi police Special Cell officials for entire faux pas. The Delhi police at the time of arrest of Shah at Indo-Nepal border had given credit to DCP Sanjeev Yadav, ACP Manishi Chandra, Inspector Sanjay Dutt and Inspector Rahul Kumar and a few constables for the operation. NIA sources say all the senior officials of Special Cell will be named after they arrest absconding police informer Sabir Khan Pathan, who had allegedly planted weapons and explosives in Haji Arafat Guest House near Delhi’s Jama Masjid purportedly to show that Liaquat Shah along with his helping hands had planned a terror attack in the Capital.

Defending his officials and denying that the operation was a botch-up, Special Commissioner (Special Cell) S N Shrivastava had then told media: “We had human intelligence that he (Liaquat Shah) was coming along with others to cause terror in the city. He has confessed to plans and this resulted in the recovery of weapons. I am confident about the intelligence, otherwise I would not have gone ahead.’’

The story, however, doesn’t end at withdrawal of the application from NIA court. In a desperate attempt to defend its officials, the Delhi police, on behalf of Bassi, wrote to Delhi Government (Home) on February 10, requesting appointment of four senior lawyers, namely, former additional solicitor general Sidharth Luthra, Dayan Krishnan, Rajiv Mohan and Sanjeev Singh to defend Delhi police in this case.

The letter (F/05/MISC/15), marked ‘Most Urgent’, states that these lawyers may be appointed as special counsels to represent Special Cell, Delhi police in the matter of chargesheet filed by NIA in the Special Court. Not only this. The letter also recommends that these lawyers should be engaged till the matter ends in subsequent courts.

Only the Lt Governor is authorised to clear this request. But the Home department of Delhi Government shot back a letter to the Delhi Police Commissioner, saying the Union home ministry has sought disciplinary action against the officials whom Bassi wants to appoint as lawyers.

“Home ministry wrote to us seeking disciplinary action against inspector and below ranking officials, who had investigated Shah’s case. When Delhi police letter concerning appointment of lawyers came, we informed the Delhi police commissioner about the Union home minister’s directions. We have asked the commissioner to give it in writing, if he still insists,” a senior Delhi government official, privy to the developments, told dna.

Besides, Home ministry has separately moved files to take action against senior Delhi police officials, who had investigated the case. Special Cell arrested Shah from Sanauli village at Indo-Nepal border in March 2013, claiming he was planning to carry out terror strikes in the capital on the eve of Holi. The sleuths claimed he wanted to meet with his accomplices at a guest house in old Delhi with AK-56 rifles and explosives.

It all started with Omar

Omar Abdullah, then J&K chief minister triggered a controversy saying Shah was returning along with his third wife and daughter from Muzaffarabad, under the rehabilitation policy of the state government for former militants. The Home ministry handed over the investigations to NIA and subsequently Shah was released from Tihar jail on bail in July 2013.

Sabir a police informer?

NIA in its recent chargesheet stated that DNA test confirmed that Sabir Khan Pathan was police informer who went missing immediately after Shah’s arrest. NIA states that he spoke to special cell officers many times when he planted explosives in the guest house. Even when the guest house was being raided by the Special Cell, with Shah in custody, Pathan received a call from one of the officers.

Soma Basu

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