When sleuths turned col­lege-go­ers

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - TIMES CITY - @times­group.com

New Delhi: When sleuths of Delhi’s anti-ter­ror unit ven­ture out on op­er­a­tions, they have to don many avatars. At times they are sales­men or street ven­dors, and some­times gun­run­ners or drug ped­dlers. The sedi­tion case in­ves­ti­ga­tion, how­ever, al­lowed them to re­live their col­lege days.

At least six young cops would wear kurta and jeans and carry a side-bag while ven­tur­ing out to JNU ev­ery morn­ing. This hap­pened for weeks in 2016 and 2017 and the sleuths des­per­ately tried to “make friends’ and gather in­tel­li­gence about what tran­spired on the evening of Fe­bru­ary 9. Mul­ti­ple sources con­firmed to TOI that they man­aged to gather ev­i­dence and jo- in the dots with this ex­er­cise.

Set­ting aside po­lit­i­cal ram­i­fi­ca­tions, the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the JNU sedi­tion case can be called one of the most ex­haus­tive probes con­ducted by Spe­cial Cell in re­cent years. TOI spoke to se- ve­ral boots on the ground and they re­vealed how they had to make more than 40 trips to J&K just to iden­tify and lo­cate the sus­pects. And the J&K probe came only af­ter they had com­pleted the mam­moth ex­er­cise of narro- wing down on the sus­pects.

“Most of them had their faces cov­ered at the event and this made our task dif­fi­cult. We scanned footage from other places where the sus­pects had un­cov­ered their faces while re­turn­ing af­ter the event. This was the first ma­jor break­through,” a source re­called. The cops took ba­sic clues, like colour of shirts and caps, and then ze­roed in on their sus­pects by talk­ing to stu­dents, JNU staff and se­cu­rity guards.

The Kash­mir probe was rid­dled with hur­dles. The in­ves­ti­ga­tion had to be lit­er­ally stopped for months af­ter Hizbul Mu­jahideen ter­ror­ist Burhan Wani was killed in July 2016 lead­ing to a mas­sive un­rest in the Val­ley. The teams had to wait for days to even get out of their ho­tel and reach places like Anant­nag and So- pore. Once, the team had to re­turn within a day as heavy stone-pelt­ing started in Pul­wama.

The probe re­sumed in early 2017, but teams had to be care­ful in in­ter­view­ing the sus­pects due to hos­til­ity. Sources said the first chargesheet could have been filed by mid-2018 backed by a sup­ple­men­tary re­port.

On Septem­ber 12, TOI had re­ported that po­lice had ev­i­dence against Kan­haiya, Umar Khalid, Anir­ban and nine Kash­miri youths. How­ever, there was a mys­te­ri­ous de­lay in fil­ing of the fi­nal re­port. The plan had to be pushed due to the volatile po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion and ris­ing mil­i­tancy in the Val­ley. “Charg­ing Kash­miri youths for sedi­tion is not only po­lit­i­cally sen­si­tive, but can also im­pact the ef­forts be­ing made to re­store peace in the state,” an in­ves­ti­ga­tor said.

At least six young po­lice­men would wear kurta and jeans and carry a side-bag while ven­tur­ing out to JNU ev­ery morn­ing

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