‘JeM Militant’ arrest: Sajjad Ahmad Khan was held more than a month ago, father says NIA lying

Bashaarat Masood
Announcing Ahmad's arrest, the NIA said he was a JeM militant and had been first held by the Delhi Police on March 21. (file)

DENYING the National Investigation Agency's (NIA) claims of the Delhi Police arresting alleged Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militant Sajjad Ahmad Khan from New Delhi on Thursday, his family says he was picked up more than a month ago.

Khan's father Ghulam Nabi Khan said his son had been arrested on February 16, with the Delhi Police telling them he would be released in a few days. "They (NIA) are lying," Khan told The Indian Express. "He (Sajjad) was picked up by the Special Cell of Delhi Police on February 16 from Delhi Gate."

Khan admitted that two of his sons Ishfaq and Showkat were militants and had died in encounters with security forces. "That doesn't mean they will pick up my third son. Ahmad is innocent."

While the Delhi Police Special Cell refused to comment, The Indian Express had reported on February 19 that it had detained seven men from Pulwama in Kashmir for questioning on February 16 and "released them" after verifying their details. After the NIA claimed Ahmad's arrest on March 22, the Special Cell confirmed to The Indian Express that he was among the seven picked up then.

READ | Sajjad Khan, 'close aide' of JeM mastermind behind Pulwama attack, arrested in Delhi

Announcing Ahmad's arrest, the NIA said he was a JeM militant and had been first held by the Delhi Police on March 21. It said the 26-year-old resident of Handoora in Pulwama district had been arrested under the UAPA and on charges of waging war against the government of India. "Case pertains to a criminal conspiracy by top leadership of JeM based in Pakistan to strengthen base of JeM in India, by recruiting persons for carrying out terrorist acts in India," the NIA statement said, adding that it had secured eight days' remand from an NIA Special Court to carry out Ahmad's "detailed interrogation to unearth the whole conspiracy".

In its statement, the NIA also said Ahmad was "specially sent to Delhi to set up hideouts" in the Delhi-NCR. "This was done to select specific targets and also to radicalise and recruit Muslim youths to further terror activities."

Denying this, Khan said Ahmad had been running a shawl business in Delhi and that, on coming to know of his son's arrest, he had visited Delhi Police Special Cell at Lodhi Garden to meet him. The 54-year-old farmer, who also works as a carpenter, said, "They admitted his arrest but didn't show him to me."

Khan said Delhi Police kept assuring him that Ahmad would be released soon. "I was in Delhi for 25 days. Every day they told me to come the next day. Every day they told me he would be released the next day. When I told them I want to give him some clothes and money, they told me they will give it themselves to him and would later collect the money from me."

Khan also said that Ahmad was picked up along with four-five boys from different villages of Kashmir. "They were released a day later, but my son wasn't."