ON 22 MARCH, New Delhi woke up and counted its blessings. Officers of the Delhi Police Special Cell claimed they had averted a major terror strike by arresting Hizbul Mujahideen commander Liaquat Shah on the Indo-Nepal border near Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh. A cache of arms and ammunition, including AK rifles and grenades, too had allegedly been recovered from a guesthouse in old Delhi. As 24×7 news channels showed a haggard-looking man, shouting his innocence, in the grip of gun-toting Special Cell men, the National Capital Region and perhaps the whole country heaved a sigh of relief. Memories of the twin blasts that rocked Hyderabad on 21 February were still fresh in their minds.
The police claimed that Liaquat, a resident of Kupwara in Jammu & Kashmir, had slipped into Pakistan-occupied Kashmir in 1997 and received arms training. They said Liaquat had returned to oversee a terror attack to avenge the hanging of 2001 Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.
The terror story ruled the airwaves for a few hours before it exploded in Delhi Police’s face. As soon as news of Liaquat’s arrest went public, his family and the J&K Police debunked Delhi Police’s claims. According to the J&K Police, Liaquat was a reformed militant coming home to start a new life. His relatives claimed they had notified the cops on 5 February 2011 about Liaquat’s planned surrender. The route that he had taken, entering India through Nepal, is the most preferred one for reformed militants and many who availed of the state’s surrender policy had used it.
J&K Police also claimed that two policemen had gone to Gorakhpur to pick up 9-10 people, including Liaquat, and had kept the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Delhi Police in the loop. When the handover happened, the J&K Police allege that the Delhi Police didn’t allow them to take Liaquat into custody. Two days later, he was paraded as a terror mastermind. Read More >
LIAQUAT SHAH, 45, never intended to be a trigger. But his disputed arrest by the Delhi Police could end up having tremendous longterm impact. Ever since a high-octane debate broke out between the J&K Police and the Delhi Police over Liaquat, two things have come into focus: one, the murky world of intelligence agencies, and two, the flawed surrender policy of the J&K government. Read more>