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Security breach ‘mastermind’ held, 4 in 7-day police custody; UAPA slapped

The alleged mastermind of the security breach in Parliament, Lalit Jha, who had been on the run, was arrested even as four other suspects were remanded in seven-day police custody for questioning on Thursday. The Delhi Police told the court the possibility of the suspects being linked to a terror organisation might not be ruled out.

  • Suspects first met in Mysuru 18 months ago; met again at farmers’ stir in Chandigarh this year
  • In July, Sagar from Lucknow did recce of Parl complex from outside after failing to gain entry
  • All arrived in Delhi on Dec 10, put up at Vicky’s house in Gurugram; Shinde gave others canisters at India Gate hours before strike

‘Plotter’ a teacher

  • Lalit Jha, a teacher by profession & linked to a West Bengal NGO, picked Dec 13 to coincide with Parl attack anniv; shot videos of aides setting off smoke canisters outside Parliament before fleeing with their mobile phones

The four — Sagar Sharma, D Manoranjan, Neelam and Amol Shinde — were arrested yesterday from Parliament House complex after a major security breach.

They have been charged under provisions of the anti-terror law, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), besides sections of the Indian Penal Code.

An FIR had been registered at the Parliament Street police station under Sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 452 (trespass), 153 (provocation with an intent to cause riot), 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servants from discharge of his duty) of the IPC, and 16 (punishment for terrorist act) and 18 (punishment for conspiracy) of the UAPA.

The police had sought 15-day custody of the four, but the court only granted them custody for a week. The fifth suspect, Lalit Jha, who had been on the run since the incident, had been arrested, said Delhi Police sources. The suspects were produced in court No. 10 of the Patiala House Courts Complex, where the police stated they needed to probe whether their sole motive was to convey protest or was a financial or terror organisation involved in the incident.

The police further told the court two pairs of shoes were recovered from the suspects, which were purchased from Lucknow, while a canister recovered from them was purchased from Mumbai.

Besides, some pamphlets recovered from them bore pictures of Prime Minister with a caption reading “Missing” with a reward on him by “Swiss Bank”, the police stated.

Meanwhile, fifth suspect Jha is said to be associated with a West Bengal NGO and is a teacher by profession.

According to police sources, Jha had fixed the date for the incident, as it coincided with the anniversary of the 2001 attack on Parliament. However, Jha is not said to be linked to any terror organisation, they added.

Jha reportedly shot videos of the other suspects deploying smoke canisters outside Parliament House complex and then fled with their mobile phones.

Another aide of the suspects, Vicky Sharma, allegedly sheltered them at his Gurugram home. Vicky and his wife Rakhi, who were detained by the police, have been sent back to their residence. They were questioned about the five suspects (four arrested, one absconding) who had allegedly stayed at their residence.

The Delhi Police’s investigation suggests all suspects were linked to a social media group, “Bhagat Singh Yuva Fan Club”, said sources.

They had met in Mysuru one and a half years ago and discussed how to go about the plan. They met again earlier this year at a farmers’ protest near the Chandigarh airport.

Sagar Sharma, sources said, came to Delhi from Lucknow this July and had unsuccessfully tried to gain entry into Parliament House complex. He though did a recce from outside, taking note of the security checks, they added.

To execute the plan, the suspects had reached Delhi on December 10 and had put up at Vicky’s home in Gurugram.

Shinde is learnt to have distributed the canisters purchased from Mumbai to the other suspects during a meeting at India Gate on Wednesday, hours before the incident, said sources.

Only Sagar Sharma and Manoranjan could gain access to the Parliament House complex after procuring the visitor’s pass from Mysore-Kodagu BJP MP Pratap Simha’s office.

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