President on visit, Lashkar man drove son around Hyderabad

Written by Ritu Sarin | New Delhi | Updated: Jun 1 2010, 02:15am hrs
In a shocking disclosure, a Lashkar-e-Toiba operative arrested from Hyderabad on May 3 has told interrogators that for four days in December 2008 he had driven President Pratibha Patils son Rajendra Shekhawat around the city as she paid a two-week official visit to Andhra Pradesh.

This was more than a year after the alleged Lashkar operative, Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq, reportedly received a consignment of a pistol and two hand-grenades concealed in a box of sweets in New Delhi. Haq is also linked to the May 7, 2006, hand-grenade blast in Hyderabads Odeon Cinema.

Haq has told investigators that he worked as a driver for the Presidents son as the Head of State was paying a visit to Hyderabad.

Haq has said he was preparing to target foreigners working in companies like Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu when he was arrested. Police officials in Hyderabad questioning Haq confirmed the disclosure but did not reveal whether Rashtrapati Bhavan had been briefed.

Haq was arrested from Hyderabads Edi Bazar after his telephones and e-mails were intercepted. Following the arrest, two other sleeper cells in Srinagar and Nepal were busted with sufficient leads that the handler of all the three operativespart of the Lashkars Indian Ocean networkwas an LeT commander based in Saudi Arabia. Haq has reportedly listed all the exchanges he had on planned terror strikes with his handlers.

Haqs interrogation has also laid bare the relative ease with which LeT operatives like him made border crossings from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and Dhaka. He has said that after being inducted into the LeT in Saudi Arabia in 2002, he was taken to Muzaffarabad for a 30-day arms training and issued arms and ammunition in Kotli, PoK. LeT guides later escorted him across Poonch, after which he reached Banihal on foot and then moved to Delhi and finally, Hyderabad.

His interrogation report reads, After receiving firearms and cash at Delhi, my handler Abdul Aziz started pressurising me to execute/commit some sensational offence. As per his instructions, either I have to throw the hand-grenade in the crowd or the targeted person. I was planning to throw the hand-grenade in the crowd gathered nearby Hitech City (Hyderabad) in front of hotels or on the foreigners working in Deliotte company. Though initially I thought I alone can execute the task, I started requesting my handler to send someone in support to me.