Ministry to put in place standard operating procedure to avoid conflicts in future

The Bihar man held by the Maharashtra police on the charge of playing a key role in organising the July 13, 2011serial bombings in Mumbai was a Delhi Police and Intelligence Bureau informant, Union Home Secretary R.K. Singh told journalists on Tuesday.

Naquee Ahmed Sheikh was “an informer in a particular operation in which he was supposed to lead these people [the police and Intelligence Bureau] to a location. He led them to a location where some people were going to come,” Mr. Singh said.

“However, that does not preclude the fact that he could have been or was involved in the blasts. Maharashtra's Anti-Terrorism Squad came to that conclusion after its investigation and its chief briefed me on Saturday,” he said.

Mr. Singh declined to discuss the evidence on the basis of which the Maharashtra Police determined that Naquee Sheikh was involved in the bombings, but said it would be “put through the legal process and scrutiny.”

Last week, The Hindu broke the news that Naquee Sheikh was arrested by Maharashtra investigators while assisting the Delhi Police locate a hideout, believed to be used by fugitive Indian Mujahideen commander Muhammad Ahmad Zarar Siddibapa, and two individuals so far only known by aliases “Waqas” and “Tabrez.”

Mr. Singh also admitted that the course of the case pointed to a lack of coordination between the Delhi Police and the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad.

It remains unclear why the Delhi Police and the Intelligence Bureau did not brief the Mumbai Police on their operation targeting the Mumbai safe house.

Mr. Singh said the Home Ministry would put in place a standard operating procedure to avoid conflicts in future. The soon-to-be-inaugurated National Counter-Terrorism Centre would facilitate intelligence-sharing between police forces.

Meanwhile, Naquee Sheikh's younger brother, Taquee Ahmad Sheikh, said his family was considering moving the court to secure his brother's release. Officers in the Delhi Police's Special Cell whom he met were “sympathetic, and have promised all help.” “They have even agreed to appear in court to testify that Naquee's role was limited to acting as an informer in this case,” he said.

Delhi Police and Intelligence Bureau officials say they have no evidence of Mr. Sheikh's involvement in the bombings. The Mumbai Police, however, insist he concealed evidence from their counterparts, and say they have evidence linking him to the purchase of two stolen scooters used to plant explosive devices in the city.

(With inputs from Vidya Subrahmaniam)

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