‘Terror outfit was behind 2005 Diwali blast’.
New Delhi: The ghost of Batla House encounter continues to haunt security agencies as Ariz Khan, alias Junaid — an operative of Indian Mujahideen (IM) wanted in the 2005 Delhi serial blasts case and arrested by National Investigation Agency (NIA) earlier this year, for his alleged involvement in the explosions in year 2005 in national capital — has provided an eyewitness account of the notorious encounter in year 2008 between Delhi police and IM terrorists in South Delhi in which encounter specialist Mohan Chand Sharma was killed. This encounter had shaken the national politics and polarised at that point of time.
IM operative Atif Ameen tried to escape but inspector Sharma, who was awarded the Ashok Chakra posthumously, caught hold of him. Atif then grabbed Sharma's gun and started firing when a Delhi police team raided the flat where the IM terrorists were holed up, according to the account given to the NIA by Ariz Khan alias Junaid.
Following the arrest of Junaid by Delhi police earlier this year, the NIA interrogated him at length. "He told the agency that besides Atif and Chota Sajid, he was also present in the Batla House flat along with - Shahzad Ahmed alias Pappu and Mohammaded Saif.
One of their associates, Zeeshan, left the flat in the morning to take an exam," said a senior home ministry official. He told the interrogators that he was woken up by policemen and brought to the hall where he saw two policemen covering Atif and Shahzad. Two other policemen were watching over Saif and Chota Sajid.
"Suddenly Atif tried to run but was held by inspector Sharma. Atif caught hold of inspector Sharma's gun and started firing," Ariz told interrogators, according to the home ministry officials.
The police team returned fire, resulting in the death of Sajid and Ameen but Shahzad and Ariz managed to flee from the flat. Ariz's lawyer, MS Khan, maintained that his client "was not involved with any outfit called Indian Mujahideen or any blasts".
Sources said that Junaid told the investigators that IM was behind the blasts on the eve of Diwali in 2005.
On October 29, 2005, at 5.35pm, the first of the Delhi serial blasts at Tooti Chowk in Paharganj killed 17 people and injured 108 others.
The second blast took place 25 minutes later in the busy Sarojini Nagar market in which 50 people died and 104 were injured. The third blast took place at Okhla, injuring 13.
Ariz had managed to escape from the Batla House flat during the 2008 police encounter in which inspector Mohan Chand Sharma was shot dead.
Intelligence agencies caught up with Ariz in Nepal in February this year, where he was held along with an aide, Abdul Subhan Qureshi, aka Tauqeer.