Four students from Kargil have been remanded in 10 days of police custody by a Delhi Court on Thursday in connection with the Israel Embassy blast that took place on January 29. The four students Nazir Hussain (26), Zulfikar Ali Wazir (25), Aiaz Hussain (28) and Muzammil Hussain (25), were picked up from Thang village, around 40 kms from Kargil district, in a joint operation with a Central intelligence agency and local police on June 22 and after almost two days of questioning at SSP office in Kargil, they were brought to Delhi on transit remand on Thursday morning.
The investigation for the low-intensity blast is being headed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Special Cell of the Delhi Police has registered a case of criminal conspiracy against the students. All four which belong to the same family as Aiaz and Muzammil are brothers while the other two are their cousins hailing from Sankoo block in Kargil.
Aiaz Hussain is reported to have completed his graduation from Ramjas College, Delhi and currently preparing for UPSC while his brother Muzammil has done post-graduate in Botany from Panjab University. Zulfiqar Ali is doing his post-graduation in Commerce from Dyal Singh College in Delhi and Nazir Hussain is doing post-graduation in Physical Education from Panjab University.
On June 22, a team of Delhi Police had reached Kargil and the students were taken to SSP office in Kargil by local police for questioning. Later, a transit remand was obtained from a local court to bring them to Delhi and the arrest was made under a separate FIR. Haji Mustafa, the students’ lawyer, told Maktoob, according to the application filed by the Public Prosecutor, all four were being arrested for their alleged involvement in the Israel Embassy blast that happened earlier this year. It stated that their social media accounts’ activity linked them to the incident and charged them under Section 120 B for criminal conspiracy.
Mustafa adds they argued the transit remand stating that students are willing to come to Delhi on their own and will surrender if need be. The family and the students are also willing to fully cooperate with the investigation and the authorities, he said.
“They are innocent students”
Speaking to Maktoob, Kargil based social activist Sajjad Hussain said they weren’t shown a copy of FIR or proper documents from the police and questioned why the arrest was made without letting their families know about it in prior. While asserting that they are innocent students, he claimed that this a conspiracy to defame Kargil as no such case of insurgency has ever been reported from the district.
The Shia dominated Kargil District is a strategic area that is bordered by Kishtwar, Anantnag, Bandipora, Ganderbal and Leh on the internal side and Pakistan and China on the external front. There has been no reports of militancy or involvement of Kargil youth in any militant act.
It has been alleged by a police officer that all four were in Delhi at the time of the incident, reports The Hindu. However, Nazir’s family claims that he hasn’t left Ladakh ever since he returned home from Nagpur after completing his graduation before the lockdown started last year. Sajjad Hussain pointed out that if Nazir would have travelled to Delhi at the time, his details would be recorded with the authorities as the only accessible route from Ladakh to the mainland during winters is through air. Due to heavy snowfall, two strategic highways connecting Ladakh with the mainland get closed, hence, leaving people dependent on flights and government-run helicopter service during winters. There are two airports in the region- Kushok Bakula Airport in Leh and Army airport at Thoise village in Nubra region.
“Nazir has been home since then. During the COVID-19 lockdown, he applied for post-graduation in Physical Education and took admission in Panjab University. He has been studying online from home. He hasn’t left home; he hasn’t been to Delhi at all,” Nazir’s father, Mohammad Baqir told Indian Express on Friday.
He went on to say: “A few police officers came to our house on 22 June. They were from the Kargil police department. They said a team from Delhi wanted to ask some questions to our children, and they would send them back immediately. Nobody told us what they are accused of. They didn’t let us meet them. Later, they called and told us that they had been arrested and taken to Delhi. We got to know about the charges against him through the media today.”
It has been alleged by police that they vacated their rented accommodation near Delhi University a few days after the blast. However, Mustafa claims the said rented accommodation was vacated on March 17 by the students.
The students come from families with a humble background with no criminal record, adds Mustafa, and the students’ fathers are all government teachers. While the fathers of Aiaz and Nazir respectively have retired, Zulfikar’s is still in service.
“I, as a lawyer, believe they are innocent tribal people who are suffering as the trials can be brutal. But I believe in judiciary and hope they will be released soon,” said Mustafa.
Their mobile phone and laptops have been seized as part of the investigation into the minor explosion near the Jindal House on APJ Abdul Kalam Road on the evening of January 29, this year. No one was injured in the blast that incidentally, took place on the 29th anniversary of India-Israel diplomatic ties.
Almost five months after the blast, the NIA had released CCTV footage of two suspects near the embassy before the blast. The agency had launched a manhunt for the two persons and has placed a reward of Rs 10,00,000 for any information in connection with the explosion.
The footage revealed that a cab had dropped two persons near the embassy and the Delhi Police Special Cell has contacted the concerned cab driver and enquired about the two persons, claimed NIA.
NIA also claimed that the police had also found a camera hidden behind a tree near the blast site. In the footage retrieved from the camera, the timestamp was of the year 1970 but the content is not clear and police are investigating it to ascertain information.
Ayushi Malik is an independent journalist based in Jammu and Kashmir.