Jailed Indian Mujahideen (IM) operative, Tehseen Akhtar, lied when he took responsibility for parking an explosives laden car outside industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s house in February — all because he wanted to remain relevant, a Delhi Police inquiry has revealed.
On March 10, central intelligence agencies traced a message on Telegram from a little-known terror group called Jaish-ul-Hind claiming responsibility for parking the Scorpio vehicle with 20 gelatin sticks on a road outside Ambani’s residence, Antilia, in Mumbai on February 25.
The message was traced to a phone in Akhtar’s cell in Tihar’s jail, where he is serving a death sentence in the 2013 Hyderabad blasts case. For a month, investigators from Delhi Police’s special cell interrogated Akhtar, who initially said his newly formed terror group parked the car outside Antilia but later admitted that he made the whole thing up.
”We submitted a report that the claims are false. Akhtar was interrogated for several hours. Initially, he tried to mislead us by claiming that terror group was real,” said an officer familiar with the details of the inquiry.
“There was also no evidence that the terror group exists. Later, he admitted he had made it up. He was just doing it to mislead investigators and show that he is still relevant. This is all mentioned in our report,”added the officer on the condition of anonymity.
Police have confirmed in their report that Akhtar, Indian Mujahideen, or his self-claimed new terror group had no role in the Ambani case and have closed the probe, officials aware of the matter said.
This is the latest twist in the sensational case that led to a major churn in Mumbai Police, the transfer of the city’s police commissioner and the eventual resignation of the state home minister. Sachin Vaze, a former police officer, was accused in the case and dismissed from Mumbai Police.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrested four people, including former Vaze for the Antilia security scare and the murder of Mansukh Hiran, owner of the Scorpio car. Hiran’s body was found on March 5 after it washed up in a creek in Thane.
The source of the Telegram message was traced to Tihar’s jail number 8 after which Delhi police was requested to join the probe. Police and jail officers then found two phones – one manufactured by Oppo and another by Vivo — inside the cell. A team of officials from the intelligence bureau and special cell started probe into the claims.
The fear was that absconding and jailed IM leaders had come together to form a new terror group.
“Top operatives such as Riyaz Bhatkal, Iqbal Bhatkal, Amir Raza were never arrested. With almost all foot soldiers and key operatives of IM, such as Akhtar and Yasin Bhatkal behind bars, it is possible that the absconding leaders are using Akhtar and his social media skills to add strength to this new group. There is a possibility of Akhtar sending the Telegram message to divert the line of investigation,” an officer investigating the case said on March 16.
During the inquiry, police found that an Oppo cell phone, smuggled inside the prison, was used by other prisoners. Akhtar has used the Oppo phone to send the messages.
Akhtar was arrested from Naxalbari, Darjeeling in March 2014. Police said at the time that Akhtar alias Monu was the “operational chief” of IM and was heading the group’s operation, after Yasin Bhatkal’s arrest. The 30-year-old was convicted in the 2013 Hyderabad serial blast that killed 18, and charged in 2010 Varanasi blast that killed two, 2011 Mumbai serial blasts that killed 26, and 2013 Patna rally blast that killed five.
NIA is currently probing the case and sought an extension of the detention period of the five accused – former Mumbai Police personnel Sachin Vaze, Riyazuddin Kazi, Sunil Mane and Vinayak Shinde, and cricket bookie Naresh Gor. On Wednesday, a special court granted the agency 60 more days to file a charge sheet.