How investigators failed to build a case against Liyaqat Shah: Exclusive details of a terror plot that was never hatched

With much fanfare on March 22, Special Cell of Delhi Police announced the arrest of 47-year-old Sayyed Liyaqat Shah alias Liyaqat Bukhari. And with that, the police claimed it had foiled “a massive, 26/11-type” terror plot in New Delhi.

However, after being in custody and taken around the country for investigations by Delhi Police and the National Investigation Agency (NIA), at around 11am in court room no. 10, District and Sessions Judge IS Mehta on Friday granted bail to the Kashmiri.

Liyaqat's elder brother Inayat, awaiting his brother's release outside the Tihar jail on Friday. Photo by Jugal R Purohit.
Liyaqat’s elder brother Inayat, awaiting his brother’s release outside the Tihar jail on Friday. Photo by Jugal R Purohit.

Reason? NIA had failed to make out even a prima facie case against him.

It all started with an “intelligence-based” operation by the Special Cell in which Inspector Dharmender Kumar arrested Liyaqat from near the Gorakhpur railway station. They said the accused was en route to perpetrate terror attacks in the national capital.

It was further learnt that while in custody, Liyaqat was made to call his handler in Pakistan from where Liyaqat was “told” on March 21 to visit room 304 at Haji Arafat guest house at Jama Masjid.

When the Special Cell team raided the location, they discovered a green and black coloured bag which had an AK-56 inside alongwith three hand grenades, two magazines, a map of Delhi, “explosive-like material” and some dry fruits.

However, the amicus curie for Liyaqat, Asim Ali said: “The so-called recovery seems nothing but a plant by the Special Cell. Neither was the recovery at Liyaqat’s instance nor was he connected because he never lived in that hotel. Liyaqat was not present at the time of recovery too.”

“Liyaqat was in no way connected to that”: he added.

Citing section 27 of the Indian Evidence Act, Liyaqat got relief.

“It merely mentions that the recovery was not done on the pointing out by the accused. In fact, it was done without his knowledge and in his absence,” said Asim Ali.

Not surprisingly, Special Public Prosecutor Ahmed Khan admitted that till date, the NIA was yet to find any evidence which could link Liyaqat to the supposed terror attack. However, NIA maintained that call records and other angles are still being pursued.

In his order, according to amicus curie, the judge made the absence of substantial evidence against Liyaqat clear. And on that basis, Liyaqat was released on bail.

Sayyed Inayat, elder brother of the accused, said: “We informed his family. They are very happy. What we fail to understand is why Delhi Police did what it did!”

Inayat, along with his three relatives, has been camping in Delhi since Monday. “There were 18 boys from our village who were to follow Liyaqat. They never came after they saw what happened to him,” he said.

Conditions imposed by court on Liyaqat after bail:

– He cannot leave India without the court’s permission.
– He cannot change his address from Lolab in Kupwara district of Jammu  and Kashmir.
– He must furnish a bail bond of Rs. 20,000.
– He must mark his attendance on the first of each month at a local police station in Kashmir.
– He must surrender his passport to NIA.


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