New Delhi: When Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma opened the door to flat number L-18 in Jamia Nagar on August 19, 2008, a volley of gunfire greeted him and his team. He was injured fatally in the shootout, but his team was able to kill two alleged terrorists - Atif Amin and Mohammad Sajid.
There were three others in the house that day. While one of them surrendered, the other two managed to escape. This is the story of Batla House encounter, which has remained mired in controversy since then.
After the two occupants of the house were killed, Mohammad Saif locked himself up in the toilet, and later surrendered. Two others- Shehzad Ahmad and Ariz Khan alias Junaid - managed to escape the building.
These two missing links became the key to what transpired inside Batla House on that fateful day. Shahzad was eventually arrested from Azamgarh in 2010 and was later sentenced to life imprisonment by a Delhi court.
Junaid was the final piece to the puzzle. With his arrest from Nepal on Wednesday, all open ends of the encounter have been wrapped up, claims the Special Cell of Delhi police.
After escaping from Batla House, Shehzad and Junaid had travelled across the country for a month, often spending nights in buses and trains. Delhi Police claims they visited relatives and acquaintances in Delhi, UP, Rajasthan and Maharastra to seek shelter and financial aid. But none of them agreed to provide them a hide out for a long period, fearing police action.
After about one month, they got separated. Subsequently, Junaid went to Bihar and crossed the Nepal Border and reached Birat Nagar. With the help of one Nizam Khan, he managed to procure Nepali Citizenship Card and a passport in the name of Mohd. Salim.
In Nepal, he stayed in Palpa, Kapilavastu and Gorkha areas. During his stay there, he ran a restaurant initially, but later on started teaching in different schools.
He also remained in close touch with Tauqeer, a SIMI ideologue, who was arrested in January this year. Tauqeer and he were teaching in the same school and it was Tauqeer’s arrest which led the police to Junaid.
According to Pramod Kushwaha, DCP, Special Cell, Junaid was involved in blasts that killed a total of 165 people and left 535 injured.
“Junaid was wanted in many cases of bombings all over the country. He was involved in the Karol Bagh, Connaught Place and Greater Kailash blasts in Delhi. He was still living in India for one month after the Batla House blasts. He was also wanted in the 2007 UP blasts, 2008 Jaipur serial blasts, 2008 Ahmedabad blasts and had later escaped the Batla House encounter,” the DCP told News18.
Sources said Junaid has confessed to firing at Mohan Chand Sharma, but doesn't know if it was his bullet that killed the inspector.
A specialized bomb-maker, Junaid is a core member of the Azamgarh Module of Indian Mujahideen. While he remained low for a few years and even married a Nepali woman, he was planning a revival along with Tauqeer, the Special Cell said.
Junaid also got in touch with Riyaz Bhatkal of the infamous Bhatkal brother’s fame in Nepal. Bhatkal asked him to come to Dammam, Saudi Arabia. The idea was to arrange for funding to revive ‘IM’ in India.
He went to Saudi Arabia in September 2014 and used the cover of a daily labourer while he was there. As per sleuths, he met a number of SIMI and IM sympathizers during his visit.
After his return in March 2017, he started visiting India clandestinely yet again. The motive was to revive IM. But before the foundation could be rebuilt, he was arrested and brought to India.