Ahmedabad: The Gujarat Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) has apprehended a person allegedly involved in hatching a conspiracy to spread terror and eliminate several leaders of right-wing outfit VHP as well as other Hindu leaders to avenge attacks on Muslims during post-Godhra riots.
Based on a specific tip-off, a team of ATS officials nabbed one Ghulamjafar Shaikh (50) from Hakimpet area of Hyderabad yesterday and brought him here today. Shaikh was on the run for 13 years, said ATS officials.
According to ATS officials, Shaikh was part of a larger conspiracy hatched by several accused to avenge the killings of Muslims during post-Godhra riots in 2002.
"In 2003, crime branch lodged a case against 82 persons involved in waging war against India through terrorist activities, for which, they received help from Pakistan's intelligence agency ISI as well as terror outfits Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad," said ATS police inspector R R Sarvaiya.
According to him, Shaikh, who used to live at Dariyapur area in the city before fleeing to Hyderabad in 2003, was actively involved in this conspiracy, where the accused had planned to kill local leaders of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) as well as other Hindu leaders.
"Some of the accused also went to Pakistan after 2002 riots and received training from terror outfits to spread terror in India and Gujarat. Then, in 2003, crime branch nabbed a huge cache of arms after these accused fired several rounds on local VHP leader Jagdish Tiwari, who survived the attack," said Sarvaiya.
"Upon interrogation of one of the accused Mohammad Zahir Shaikh, who was nabbed by police at that time, it was revealed that Ghulamzafar Shaikh arranged 140 cartridges and gave it to the assailants to carry out the killings. However, Shaikh went underground before police could nab him," said Sarvaiya.
Recently, ATS learned that Shaikh have shifted to Hyderabad after his name surfaced here in 2003. Investigations revealed that he kept a low profile during his stay in Hyderabad, where he has been living with his wife and three children.
"Shaikh has been charged with sedition charges along with 81 others. In Hyderabad, he used to earn his livelihood by working as a tailor. However, he rarely spoke with other locals and kept a low profile. We nabbed him near his house yesterday and brought him here today" said Sarvaiya.
Since the case has been handled by crime branch, he will be handed over to them for further probe, added Sarvaiya.