‘I identified one of the militants whom I saw on TV as Babar’

Alleged Lashkar-e-Toiba militants Shahid Mehmood and Zahid Hafiz were shot dead by J&K Police on June 28, 2004, allegedly after they tried to escape from custody while being taken to recover some arms. In disclosures made to the police while in custody from June 26 to June 28, Mehmood allegedly described the link between Lashkar commander Muzzamil and Amjad Ali, one of the three men killed along with Ishrat Jahan on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on June 15, 2004.

According to the J&K Police, Mehmood and Zahid Hafiz were putting together a Lashkar module in the Valley, which was busted with their arrests. This is what the two men said in their confessions, according to J&K Police.

SHAHID MEHMOOD

According to J&K Police, Mehmood revealed that he was "born and brought up in the family of Mohd Arif at Rebar Town (Tehsil Taxila/District Rawalpindi, Pakistan)". According to the police, he was born in 1980, and dropped out of school in class 12 at "Asgar Mal Degree, Rawalpindi". "As I was not good in studies, I quit the degree in July 1998 and started assisting my father in cloth business," the alleged disclosure says.

Police say Mehmood told them that he had been motivated to join the Lashkar by his cousin Mohammad Irshad, who was already with the militant group. According to the alleged disclosure, the Lashkar sent him to Kashmir in June 2000. He came to Srinagar in "September/October, 2001", and made a district commander in May 2002.

In the alleged disclosure, Mehmood spoke about visiting Mumbai and Goa "for sightseeing" in March 2004. The J&K Police said his militant codenames were Aby Osama, Abu Hassan and Abu Hadid, and his "set code" was Zulu 4. The name 'Aby Osama' was used by Gujarat ACP Parikshita Gurjar in her affidavit filed before the Gujarat High Court.

The crucial part of the statement allegedly made by Mehmood while in custody, subsequently used as 'evidence' to link Ishrat with the LeT, was as follows:

"...In April 2004, Abu Muzzamil... asked me (Mehmood) to bring one Ab Adnan@Babar r/o Pakistan to Srinagar from the hideouts in Bandipora areas for his bullet injury treatment. Accordingly, I brought Ab Adnan to Srinagar. ...He stayed in the house of Moulvi Ab Aziz... for 15/20 days and was operated upon at SMHS... He was especially trained in driving, internet, Hindi by Muzzamil with the sole purpose of executing plans assigned by him in India... After talking to Babar separately, Muzzamil asked me to send Babar to Delhi for fidayeen action. ...Babar left for Delhi in May 2004... On 15/20 May 2004, Ab Adnan@Babar met me near Iddgah Khanyar Srinagar after he returned from Delhi and requested me for arranging two hand grenades and two pistols... About ten days ago 16/17 June 2004, while I was watching TV, I identified one of the militants killed by Ahmedabad Police as the aforementioned Babar."

J&K Police carried out no probe to independently establish whether the man who was killed in Ahmedabad and subsequently identified as Amjad Ali, was indeed "Babar" or "Abu Adnan", the alleged aide of LeT's Muzzamil.

ZAHID HAFIZ

In alleged disclosures made to police before he was killed on June 28, 2004, Zahid Hafiz said nothing that had any connection with the June 15, 2004 encounter outside Ahmedabad.

He said he belonged to "Naushera Kakezian Tehsil Pasroor district Sialkot", and had joined the Lashkar after he was "beaten up by his brother because he had lost money while running a kiryana shop" run by his family.

He said he wanted to return to his home in Pakistan and had even travelled to the Bandipore jungles to persuade his commander to let him go. He was, however, sent back to Srinagar. He was arrested on June 25, 2004 from an Internet café on Srinagar's M A Road, where he had gone for "chit chatting and (to) play a game".

According to the police, his "caller" was "SNOW-WHITE-Wolf 22@yahoo.com".

The 18-member Lashkar module that Mehmood and Zahid set up allegedly included a policeman, Tanveer Salem Dar. According to Hafiz's alleged disclosure, in February 2003, Dar had taken him in a police bus to Jammu "for sightseeing". Dar, who attended the police games, allegedly accommodated Hafiz in the stadium along with the policemen.

Among the other people who J&K Police claimed were part of the Lashkar module was an electrician deputed at then chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed's official residence, and a minister's driver.

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