IPS officer Anil Shukla returns to Delhi Police after 6 years in NIA

·5-min read

New Delhi, Apr 13 (PTI) Senior IPS officer Anil Shukla returned to his parent cadre Delhi Police after successfully completing his tenure of six years in the NIA, during which he led investigations into terror funding in Jammu and Kashmir, Pulwama attack and the recent Sachin Waze case.

Shukla, a 1996-batch officer from Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram and Union Territory (AGMUT) cadre, completed his six years on central deputation on Monday and was expected to join Delhi Police soon in the rank of joint commissioner, officials said.

During his tenure in the National Investigation Agency (NIA), Shukla was entrusted with the important case of unravelling the funding of terror and separatist groups in Jammu and Kashmir, where stone pelting had become an order of the day in 2016 post the killing of Burhan Wani, poster boy of the banned Hizbul Mujahideen terror group.

Shukla and his team camped continuously in Kashmir and started probing the role of certain politicians and business persons till he finally laid his hand on Zahoor Watali, a prominent citizen of the Valley and well connected within the political circles of the erstwhile state.

After registering a case in May 2007, the NIA carried out searches at the residences of well-known separatists, including Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, and started cracking the whip on separatist groups' cadres who acted as overground workers of terror groups.

Fifteen people, including Watali, Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front chief Yaseen Malik, Geelani's son-in-law Altaf Ahmed Shah alias Altaf Fantoosh, were arrested in 2017 and continue to remain in jail after the NIA ensured the filing of a timely charge sheet against them.

After the NIA raids on choking the terror funding, the organised stone-pelting racket in Kashmir came to a grinding halt. In the recent charge sheet filed in a different case, the agency has named PDP youth president Waheed-ur-Rehman Parra as one of the main instigators of organising stone-pelting incidents in south Kashmir during 2010.

The February 2019 terror attack in Pulwama that left CRPF personnel dead was yet another blind case for the NIA that was handed over the Shukla and his team.

The 'blind case' was solved by the NIA after piecing together the electronic evidence and statements of terrorists and their sympathisers arrested in different cases. 'It was a painstaking investigation as leads to all involved in the conspiracy were either in Pakistan or dead,' says one of the officers.

The NIA filed a charge sheet in August 2020 against 19 people, including Masood Azhar, the chief of banned terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed, for planning and carrying out the Pulwama attack in south Kashmir. It also brought to light the use of e-commerce platforms by the planners in the terror module for purchase of high-end batteries, phones and some chemicals.

While solving the case, Shukla and his team worked on challenging tasks, including identifying the suicide bomber, the case used in attack, key conspirators, but somehow all the trails led to a frustrating dead end.

At the instruction of their team leader, the NIA started gathering evidence of all the encounters that took place post the February 2019 attack till they laid their hands on the phone of a Pakistani terrorist, Umer Farooq, who was killed in Budgam of central Kashmir in the same year.

The team led by Shukla was in for good luck when they studied information retrieved from Farooq's mobile phone that had a lot of evidence, including a number of video recordings, voice messages and chats, apart from pictures like those of the improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and the people making them.

The agency also handled the crucial case of Jammu and Kashmir Deputy Superintendent of Police Davinder Singh, who was arrested by police while ferrying Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists.

'The case did not stop at only ferrying of militants, but the orders were clear from Shukla sir to unravel the entire conspiracy, and role of Singh and another accomplice who was an advocate,' an official said.

The NIA filed a charge sheet against Singh and six others, and even brought out the alleged role of Singh and his association with officials of the Pakistan High Commission in Delhi who had instructed him to make deep inroads into the security establishment.

Shukla and his team also cracked down on cross-border trade being undertaken from two points in Jammu and Kashmir.

Based on the findings, the Home Ministry had in April 2019 suspended the cross Line of Control (LoC) trade in Jammu and Kashmir, citing 'funnelling of illegal weapons, narcotics and fake currency' as reasons.

Shukla and his team had also started cracking the whip on mushrooming of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Jammu and Kashmir, as well as narcoterrorism, which indicated a tacit understanding between the drug mafia of Punjab and terrorists of Jammu and Kashmir.

Before his repatriation to his parent cadre, Shukla, who was looking after Maharashtra, had to probe a sensitive case of explosives being planted near the residence of industrialist Mukesh Ambani.

Within days of taking over the case, Shukla placed Waze under arrest and has unravelled many portions of the puzzle by placing others involved in the case behind bars.

He had been camping in Mumbai and overlooking the evidence himself almost till the last weekend. PTI SKL HMB