‘Mastermind’ of Shujaat Bukhari’s assassination planned serial blasts in Delhi

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The alleged mastermind of the assassination of senior Kashmiri journalist Shujaat Bukhari, in 2002 was planning to carry out serial bomb blasts in Delhi.

He had been arrested in 2002 by the Delhi Police’s Special Cell for carrying large quantities of explosives which included the deadly RDX and detonators, according to a report in The Times of India.

Sheikh Sajjad Gul, a Lashkar terrorist who has been identified by the Jammu and Kashmir Police as the mastermind behind Rising Kashmir editor Bukhari’s murder on June 14 – a killing that sent shock waves through the Valley – was reportedly arrested in 2002 along with his two aides from Delhi’s Nizamuddin railway station.

The two aides were identified as Firoz Ahmed Sheikh alias Abu Mansoor and Mehrajuddin Peer alias Hilal. The arrests had foiled the terrorists’ plans to carry out serial blasts in Delhi, TOI reported, and the following year, Sajjad was jailed in a high-security cell in Tihar jail after a court conviction.

Sajjad, a hardened Lashkar militant, and his associates, Mehrajuddin Peer alias Hilal and Firoz Ahmed Sheikh alias Abu Mansoor were arrested from Delhi’s Nizamuddin railway station as police had thwarted their plans.

Security sources in the know of that operation told TOI that Intelligence Bureau officials were on alert after credible inputs that Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists were planning to carry out serial blasts in the national capital. Extensive field work reportedly led the police to zero in on the Punjab Mail train arriving from Mumbai on May 9, 2002.

The police were able to arrest three suspects from the station’s parking area.

Documents accessed by TOI show that police had seized 5kg of RDX, 3.7kg of white explosives, four detonators, a remote control device, two lakh cash and a cellphone, among other things from their bags.

During interrogation, Sajjad allegedly revealed that he had come to Delhi in mid-April, rented a flat in Jangpura and had done a recce of possible targets.

In 2003, Sajjad along with others was sentenced under the Explosives Act for 10 years imprisonment. After he was released from prison, he reportedly returned to Kashmir, and then managed to escape to Pakistan, the TOI report said.

On Sajjad’s orders, Muzaffer Ahmed alias Talha and Azad Ahmed, who are from south Kashmir, and Naveed Jatt alias Hanzullah, a Pak national, shot dead Bukhari and two of his PSOs in Press Colony in Srinagar.

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