When sleuths turned college-goers
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