NEW DELHI: The Delhi Police on Friday arrested Sajjad Khan, a “very close associate” of slain Jaish-e-Mohammed militant Mudasir Ahmad Khan, the mastermind of the February 14 Pulwama attack in which 40 CRPF soldiers were killed. Later in the day, he was handed over to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for custodial interrogation. Sajjad was staying in the city under the guise of a shawl vendor and was based near the Red Fort.
He was arrested late on Thursday after the Delhi Police Special Cell received an input from a Central Intelligence agency “that an active cadre of JeM has shifted to Delhi with the intention of establishing a sleeper cell and is staying under the cover of a shawl vendor”. “A vigil was mounted and information was further developed. This input was developed through sources and physical surveillance was mounted, in which, movements of these operatives were closely and discreetly monitored,” the DCP said.
On Friday, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) moved a special court for interrogating Sajjad in custody. The court granted the agency eight days of remand. Claiming that Sajjad had been sent to India to recruit operatives for the JeM, the agency said, “In furtherance of this criminal conspiracy, Khan was specially sent to Delhi to set up hideouts in Delhi-NCR. This was done to select specific targets and also to radicalise and recruit Muslim youths to further terror activities,” it said.
According to the Delhi Police Special Cell, Sajjad was in regular touch with Mudasir, who was killed a month after the attack in an encounter.“On February 14, Mudasir contacted Sajjad on WhatsApp and informed him about having carried out the attack on the CRPF convoy in Jammu and Kashmir. Mudasir then sent him the video of Adil Dar (fidayeen), which he deleted from his phone,” police said.
Deputy Commissioner of Police, Special Cell, PS Kushwah said Sajjad is a resident of Handoora village in Pulwama. “The accused was specially sent to Delhi to carry out reconnaissance of important targets and to set up a hideout in Delhi. This has been done to select specific targets and also to radicalize and recruit Muslim youth of Uttar Pradesh and other states, provide them weapon training, explosives and field craft, raising funds and collecting weapons,” he added.
In February 2018, his brother Ishfaq, who was also friends with Mudasir, was arrested under the Public Safety Act for stone pelting and remained in Srinagar Jail for about nine months. He joined the JeM after his release.