The Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad (ATS), probing a criminal conspiracy to commit a terror act case, on Sunday arrested a 40-year-old tuition teacher from Mumbra. The ATS alleged the accused, Rizwan Momin, had broken a mobile phone belonging to another accused, Zakir Shaikh (52), into three pieces and thrown them into a drain near his residence. The ATS, which recovered the phone parts from the drain, said the charge of destruction of evidence has been added in the case.
The ATS on September 17 registered an FIR under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA)’s Section 18 for criminal conspiracy to commit a terrorist act. On September 18, it had arrested Shaikh, an autorickshaw driver from Jogeshwari. Shaikh was sent to police custody till Monday. During interrogation, the name of Rizwan Momin, who gives tuition to students from Class I to X, cropped up. Momin had recently shifted from Bandra to Mumbra with his wife to a rented flat.
Shaikh and Momin were produced before a special UAPA sessions court at Kala Ghoda on Monday afternoon. Judje P Sitre sent them to judicial custody till October 4. “We had taken his police custody. We will take his further custody during the course of investigation,” said an ATS officer.
The ATS’s FIR comes days after Delhi police’s special cell of the anti-terror wing arrested six persons, including Dharavi resident Jaan Mohammed Shaikh alias Sameer Kaliya (47), on charges of planning multiple terror attacks in various Indian states.
Accourding to the report of TOI, ATS on Monday stated in a press note it had registered an FIR under UAPA against one Anthony alias Anwar alias Anas, who is abroad, and Shaikh. A lookout circular notice had been issued against Shaikh. “During the custodial interrogation, it was revealed that he had been receiving instructions from his handlers situated in a foreign country… Rizwan Momin was arrested on September 19. Later on, ATS raided the house of Rizwan Momin at Mumbra… certain incriminating documents were seized. The mobile phone of Zakir Shaikh which was broken into three pieces by Rizwan and thrown into a drain near his residence has been recovered,” the ATS note stated.
There were unconfirmed reports that Shaikh had stayed at Momin’s home for two days. Sources said after Kaliya’s arrest, Shaikh sent his wife and children to a relative’s home, and he himself was trying to find a safe house in Mumbra when ATS picked him up. Advocate Sachin Chavan appeared for Momin; Shaikh had no lawyer.
Shaikh and five others were held in 2001 for plotting to assassinate BJP leader L K Advani and carry out blasts at the behest of the Chhota Shakeel gang. They were acquitted. Shaikh’s brother Sagir, shown as the mastermind, fled abroad.