shootout: Police claims killing mastermind of Delhi bombing
Indo-Asian News Service
New Delhi, Sep 19 (IANS) Two suspected terrorists, possibly
involved in the bombings in the capital a week ago, were shot
dead and one was arrested while two managed to escape after
a dramatic shootout Friday morning in a congested Muslim-dominated
south Delhi neighbourhood, police said.
Loudspeakers from a mosque in Jamia Nagar locality near the
Jamia Milia University appealed for peace as restive crowds
roamed the area even hours after the staccato exchange of
fire ended with police leaving quickly with bodies of the
dead and bundling them in a heavily guarded van.
The events unfolded suddenly from around 10.30 a.m., when
a large well-armed police contingent surrounded the area,
and ended about 30 minutes later after the suspected terrorists
were killed inside a fourth floor apartment in a narrow, winding
lane where residents lived cheek by jowl and knew one another
by their first names.
Of the two terrorists shot dead, one was identified as Atif
and the other Sajid.
Delhi Police Commissioner Y.S. Dadwal said: "Atif was
one of the key leaders of the Indian Mujahideen group. He
was involved in planning and manufacturing of bombs. He belongs
to Azamgarh (in Uttar Pradesh)."
The Indian Mujahideen group, which authorities say is linked
to the outlawed Students Islamic Movement of India, has claimed
responsibility for recent terror attacks in Indian cities,
notably New Delhi, Ahmedabad, Jaipur and Hyderabad.
Atif "also played a key role in the Delhi serial bomb
blasts. He was one of the main people in the research, planning
and execution of the blasts", the police chief said.
Police, helped by commandos of the elite National Security
Guard (NSG), surrounded the house L-18 in the rabbit warren
of the Jamia Nagar neighbourhood after tip-offs from intellience
Police seized an AK-47 assault rifle, two imported pistols
besides a computer from a fourth floor flat where the terrorists,
believed to be five in number, were holed up.
"These people were living here for two months,"
Delhi Police Special Cell's highly decorated sharpshooter
Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma was in a critical condition after
being shot thrice by the terrorists, with one bullet piercing
his stomach, Dadwal said. A head constable was shot in his
While the police claimed to have caught the kingpin behind
the Sep 13 serial blasts in the national capital that killed
24 people and injured over 100, the mood was very different
in Jamia Nagar.
Tension was palpable in the narrow bylanes with shops downing
shutters and more than 5,000 police personnel being deployed.
Classes in the Jamia Milia University were suspended for the
day as news of the shootout spread.
Angry residents were out on the streets shouting slogans against
the police and alleging that the bodies had been planted in
the apartment for the "fake encounter".
The media also came in for flak after some channels allegedly
wrongly reported that the terrorists were hiding in the mosque.
S.A.R. Geelani, the Delhi University lecturer who was acquitted
in the Deceember 2001 parliament attack, demanded a judicial
probe into the shootout and said: "People have been harassed
in the area for a long time. It is not something new. Whenever
something happens, this area is the first target being a Muslim
That most could not catch sight of the bodies of the two terrorists
who had been killed added to the suspicion.
Furious with the police for not showing the face of the terrorists
and wrapping the bodies in a blanket, Faisal Khan, a resident
of the area, asked: "Why didn't they show us the faces?
If they were students or people from the area we could have
R. Abid, another resident, wondered how anybody could escape:
"See the area for yourself. How can anybody run away
in this crowded locality amid such huge police deployment."
Saleemuddin, a local, fumed: "The truth is in front of
us. Everybody is trying to malign Muslims. They are here because
this is a Muslim dominated locality."
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