Row over arrest of 'terrorist': Shinde mulling NIA probe

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Liyaqat Shah
New Delhi, Mar 24: With the Jammu and Kashmir Police maintaining that the Hizbul Mujahideen operative Sayyed Liyaqat Shah who was nabbed from Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh recently is "not an active militant" as claimed by their counterparts in Delhi, the Centre is likely to ask the National Investigating Agency (NIA) to determine which side is correct.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has already called for an independent probe into the matter. He urged Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Saturday to institute a speedy enquiry by the NIA so that the confusion over the arrest of Liyaqat Shah can be cleared. Reports say Shinde may accept the chief minister's demand and order a NIA probe.

Delhi Police took the Hizbul operative into custody on Mar 20 after he crossed the Nepal border and entered India. According to police sources, Liyaqat Shah had been given the responsibility of facilitating a 'fidayeen' attack by Hizbul cadre in the national capital.

The terrorists were planning to avenge the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru by striking at crowded markets and shopping malls across Delhi on the day of Holi, the sources said.

When Delhi Police raided a guest house in the Walled City's Jama Masjid area on the night of Mar 21, they found an AK-56 rifle, hand grenades and explosives. Investigators are sure that the Hizbul Mujahideen would have used the arms and ammunition to carry out a deadly attack here on the lines of 26/11 during the 'Festival of Colours'.

Liyaqat Shah reportedly confessed to Delhi Police that his handlers in Pakistan had asked him to recce India Gate, Chandni Chowk, Karol Bagh etc.

However, police officials in Jammu and Kashmir believe that he is innocent. "We knew about Shah's return. He is not an active militant. He was returning home with his wife and his 19-year-old daughter. Even the Intelligence Bureau knew about his return," they averred.

Liyaqat Shah's first wife Ameena Begum told the Indo-Asian News Service that he had often expressed a wish to come back from Pakistan. "We filed an application with the authorities in Kupwara district requesting that Liyaqat be allowed to return home under the (state government's) rehabilitation policy. The authorities accepted our request and said he must return to India via Nepal and thereafter he would be helped to re-join his family," Ameena said.

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