Pic 1: M.C. Sharma, Pic 2: Member of Indian Mujahiddeen Shahzad | File Pic

12 years after Batla House encounter, residents still don't want to recall

By IANS | New Delhi

Updated: 19 September, 2020 14:20 IST

Residents of L-18 do not want to speak about that day or that encounter even twelve years after. Nobody wants to recall the incident.

Twelve years have passed since the Batla House encounter in which Special Cell of Delhi Police claimed to have neutralised a key terror module of the Indian Mujahideen responsible for blasts in the national capital and other parts of the country.

The Jamia Nagar flat where the terrorist lived wears a haunted look and no one has since occupied the flat, where a few of the IM men were gunned down.

Residents of L-18 do not want to speak about that day or that encounter even twelve years after. Nobody wants to recall the incident.

Roads leading up to the lane shows no sign of any recollection of the day as its business as usual. People carry on with their routine work. They look at people suspiciously if they bring up the 2008 encounter. Even shopkeepers whisper about the incident but do not want to be named.

A middle aged woman living near the Batla House said: "It was Ramzan when the incident took place everyone was inside their homes but when the crowd started swelling people got to know about the incident, since that day there has been no activity and the area continues to be calm."

Parvez Alam Khan, a former video journalist now working with the Delhi Congress Media Cell says, "Residents of the area still don't know what had transpired that day as judicial inquiry was not done, even Arvind Kejriwal had said that they will press for the inquiry but it never happened."

Recalling the incident he said that he was waiting to shoot an interview with then Chief Minister of Gujarat at Chanakyapuri when he got a call from office to rush to Batla House as firing was reported -- it was around 10 a.m.

"When we reached the spot along with a reporter who is now editor in a channel there was crowd and lot of police presence in the area, and already at that time Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma had been shot and was in the Holy Family hospital.

The Special Cell which conducted the anti-terror operation was headed by then Joint Commissioner of Police Karnail Singh, who has written a book on the incident "Batla House: An Encounter That Shook The Nation."

He says in the book about the detailed encounter and answers some frequently asked questions in the book. The former IPS officer narrates that the Special Cell team had managed to gather information and zeroed in on Atif Ameen by September 18, 2008.

The phone number used by slain terrorist Mohammad Atif Ameen was key to solving the conspiracy of blasts in Jaipur on May 13, and Ahmedabad on July 26, and the serial blasts on September 13, in Delhi's Karol Bagh, Connaught Place and Greater Kailash in 2008.

 2 terrorists killed in ongoing encounter in Kashmir

In the book he tells that the police never expected to be fired at by the occupants inside the flat. The officers were in plain clothes and not wearing bullet proof vests as the initial plan was to nab them alive.

He also tells in the book about his meeting with then Union Minister Kapil Sibal at the LG office to brief him about the encounter and he was convinced about the police version and later then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh patted him and said that the police has done a good job, and when he was introduced by LG to the Prime Minister in an official function he was commended again.

When the police faced flak from political parties and pressure from the government and they were called by the home secretary for judicial enquiry, then Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium argued against it.

Karnail Singh a former IPS officer said that they also met Mushirul Hasan then Jamia VC who had announced legal aid for the IM suspects but when shown evidences he was taken aback.

Singh in the book praised Jamia Community radios effort to calm down the charged atmosphere in the area.

The encounter at Batla House took place on September 19, 2008, a week after serial blasts in Delhi.

Two alleged Indian Mujahideen terrorists, Atif Ameen and his accomplice, were killed while two others, Mohammad Saif and Zeeshan, were arrested and Mohammad Sajid managed to escape.

Encounter specialist and Delhi Police Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma was killed during the incident.

Residents in the area though still can't find a way to tie the loose ends. They still have suspicion even after years of that encounter about its genuineness. They still can't accept the police theory.

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First Published: 19 September, 2020 14:07 IST

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