LUCKNOW: After Kanpur Police failed to trace the killers of retired principal Ramesh Chandra Shukla, the Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) has been handed over the case amid revelations that he was killed by members of the Islamic State’s (IS) Khorasan module operating silently through its sleeping cells in the state.
National Investigation Agency (NIA) has said in its chargesheet that Shukla’s killing was just a ‘target practice’ for the IS operatives now in the custody of the national agency for their role in the blast in Ujjain-Bhopal passenger train in March.
Shukla, principal of Atma Prakash Brahmachari Junior High School in Chakeri locality of Kanpur, was shot dead while taking a morning stroll in October last year. As the probe into the case was on, a blast in Ujjain-Bhopal Express occurred in March this year.
Its probe was handed over to NIA. Meanwhile, ATS sleuths conducted an 11-hour encounter on the outskirts of Lucknow a day after the blast, in which Kanpur-based IS operative Saifullah was killed.
Subsequently, NIA arrested right members of the cell from Kanpur and various cities of Madhya Pradesh.
While conducting the blast probe, NIA also investigated Shukla’s murder and found it to be linked to the arrested IS operatives. Ballistic tests established that Shukla was shot by Atif Muzaffar and Moahmmad Danish, two of the four chargeshteed by the agency in the Bhopal-Ujjain train blast case.
The agency also rounded up IS member Faisal Khan, who was with the two assailants who killed Shukla.
To the investigators’ surprise, Atif admitted that they had nothing against Shukla and he became a target of their shooting practice. They shot him while practising with 30 calibre pistol, which they bought from Fakre Alam of Etawah.
The probe and Saifullah’s encounter led to the arrest of other members of the IS module in Kanpur. Apart from Muzaffar and Danish, NIA had chargesheeted Ghaus Mohammad Khan of Kanpur and Syed Mir Hussain of Kannauj last month for planting the bomb in the train in March. In the chargesheet, NIA said Atif and Danish had killed a retired principal in Kanpur.
Spent cartridges recovered from the spot of Shukla’s killing matched the arms and ammunition recovered from Saifullah’s hideout. As a result, Kanpur Police requested the Uttar Pradesh DGP to hand over the probe into Shukla’s killing to NIA.
“I wrote to Uttar Pradesh DGP’s office last month via IG (Range) and ADG (Zone) requesting them to hand over the probe to NIA,” said Kanpur SSP Sonia Singh.
Mock firing drills are undertaken.
The NIA probe into the Kanpur-based IS module has made some interesting revelations about how they transported weapons between Kanpur and Lucknow in public transport buses between 2016 and 2017.
The NIA chargesheet mentions mock firing drills by IS operatives in Kanpur. It also reveals that Atif had mastered the art of making bombs from an online magazine called Inspire between April and June 2016.
Hey planted bombs in the Ujjain-Bhopal passenger train to check the efficacy of the ammunition and to create panic and fear among the people, claims the chargesheet which was submitted in the court on August 8, this year.
The bomb was made in Kanpur and was brought to Lucknow on a motorcycle by IS member Ghaus Mohammad Khan, who was sporting an IAF flag on the two-wheeler in December last year. Khan is an ex-employee of the IAF. The outfit made five bombs between August 2016 and March 2017, when the module was busted.