Parliament security breach | ‘Mastermind’ Lalit Jha sent to 7-day police custody

Prosecutor claims Mr. Jha, a teacher from Bihar, had destroyed the mobile phones of the four other accused; investigation reveals that the group had planned to protest in Parliament on December 14 but they got visitor’s passes a day earlier

Updated - December 16, 2023 11:38 am IST

Published - December 15, 2023 07:23 pm IST - New Delhi

Lalit Jha (centre), key accused in the recent Parliament security breach, is brought to the Patiala House Court in New Delhi on December 15, 2023.

Lalit Jha (centre), key accused in the recent Parliament security breach, is brought to the Patiala House Court in New Delhi on December 15, 2023. | Photo Credit: PTI

Lalit Jha, who surrendered at the Kartvaya Path police post in Delhi on December 14 night, has been described by the Delhi police as the alleged “mastermind” behind the Parliament security breach case, in the Lok Sabha.

Mr. Jha, a teacher by profession, was produced in a city court on December 15 and sent to seven days of police custody. The police had sought 15 days of custody, submitting that Mr. Jha had destroyed phones belonging to the other accused persons, and had “disclosed” the “motive” behind the group’s actions.

These submissions were made by Public Prosecutor Akhand Pratap Singh in the court of Hardeep Kaur, Additional Sessions Judge and NIA special judge at the Patiala House Court.

Also read: Terror charges invoked in Parliament security breach case

‘How did they get funding?’

“He was arrested last night. He disclosed about his involvement and how he is mastermind of the entire conspiracy and what was their motive. We need him to investigate how the conspiracy was hatched and how they got funding. This will require detailed investigation... We need to recover the mobile phones,” Mr. Singh said.

The court provided legal aid for Mr. Jha as he was unrepresented, just like the four other accused who were produced in the court on Thursday.

A police source said that, after uploading a video of the December 13 protest outside Parliament on Facebook and Instagram, Mr. Jha had fled to Rajasthan carrying the phones of the other accused. He is said to have deleted all data from the phones and destroyed them. When he surrendered at the Kartavya Path police post on Thursday, he was accompanied by two other men who had provided him with logistical support.

Also read: Act a well-planned conspiracy, Delhi Police tell court

Five arrested, canisters found

These two men, identified as Kailash and Mahesh, and Vicky Sharma, at whose Gurugram residence the five accused had stayed on December 12, have not been arrested by the police yet, though all three have faced police questioning. The Hindu had erroneously reported earlier that Mr. Sharma had been arrested.

The four other accused are Neelam Devi, 35, from Jind in Haryana; Amol Shinde, 25, from Latur in Maharashtra; Lucknow resident Sagar Sharma, 28; and Mysuru resident D. Manoranjan, 34. While Mr. Sagar Sharma and Mr. Manoranjan had jumped from the visitor’s gallery into the well of the Lok Sabha, spewing a coloured gas, Ms. Devi and Mr. Shinde had protested outside the Parliament premises, near where television cameras are parked.

According to the First Information Report (FIR) registered by the police, the following items were recovered from the accused: four used gas canisters and one unused canister, all manufactured in China, and two partly torn and damaged pamphlets. One poster has “Jai Hind” written on it in English, a tricoloured image of a fist, and a Hindi slogan. The other pamphlet had a slogan in English on the recent Manipur violence, the FIR said.

Mr. Sagar Sharma and Mr. Manoranjan had hidden the gas canisters inside the soles of their left and right shoes respectively by carving out a cavity and then increasing the thickness of the sole by adding an additional rubber sole at the bottom of the shoe to support the cavity. Mr. Shinde had purchased the canisters in Latur. Before joining the protest, Mr. Sagar Sharma had gone to Delhi’s Sadar Bazaar where he bought the Indian tricolour.

Change of plans

Investigation revealed that the group’s initial plan had been to demonstrate in the Parliament on December 14; however, they got their visitor’s passes a day earlier, the anniversary of the December 13, 2001 Parliament terror attack.

In a diary entry dated June 13, 2015, Mr. Sagar Sharma wrote: “Main apni zindagi watan ke naam kar chuka hoon... Ghulami se karneke ko azaad vatan ko apne main kai khaufnak kaam pehle hi kar chuka hoon (I have pledged my life to the country... To free the country from a slave mentality, I have done many an audacious work.”

Meanwhile, the Darbhanga Police on Friday searched Mr. Jha’s ancestral home at Rampur village, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Baheda police station in Bihar. The police had gone there to verify the current address of his father, parents, and brother. Mr. Jha used to live in Kolkata and was also associated with social work, but his family had moved to Bihar a few years ago.

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