An alleged LeT terrorist and a suspect in the 2000 Red Fort attack case, Bilal Ahmed Kawa, was today sent to 10-day police custody by a Delhi court. The court took note of the allegation that Kawa had received Rs 29.5 lakh from Pakistan to fund the terror attack on the historic Red Fort on December 22, 2000. Kawa was arrested yesterday in the national capital in a a joint operation by the Delhi Police and Gujarat Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS). He was produced before Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Deepak Sherawat, who said there were “sufficient grounds” to grant his custody for interrogation. The judge took on record the submission of the police that Kawa, suspected to have links with Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), was a key conspirator in the terror strike. “Accused has (played) the main role and participated in the offence by receiving money from Pakistan and other countries through hawala operators, which was used in the attack and other terror activities in Jammu and Kashmir conducted by LeT,” the judge noted. The police told the trial court that Kawa, one of the conspirators in the attack, had been absconding for 17 years and was declared a proclaimed offender by the court. “He is needed for thorough interrogation and details of his associates need to be extracted from him, which requires lot of time,” the police said.
It also said that the accused needed to be taken to Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir and other places for investigation and apprehension of his associates. Three people, including two Army jawans, were killed in the December 22, 2000 Red Fort attack. While Kawa was on run, a trial court in October 2005, had awarded death sentence to Pakistan-based LeT terrorist Mohammad Arif alias Ashfaq, while two key conspirators –Nazir Ahmed Qasid and his son Farooq Ahmed Qasid — were awarded life imprisonment. Additional Sessions Judge O P Saini had also awarded seven-year jail term to Ashfaq’s Indian wife Rehmana Yousuf Farooqui for harbouring the main accused.
Other convicts — Bagar Mohsin Baghwala, Sadaqat Ali and Matloob Alam — were also awarded seven-year rigorous imprisonment. In September 2007, the Delhi High Court upheld the death sentence to Ashfaq, saying terrorists who have no value for human lives deserved capital punishment. The high court, however, acquitted six others including Ashfaq’s wife Farooqui, citing lack of sufficient evidence against them. The Supreme Court in August 2011 upheld Ashfaq’s death sentence, saying the “arrogant” assault was a “brazen attempt” by Pakistan “to overawe” India and wage war against it.
Later, it also dismissed the review as well as the curative petition of Ashfaq in the case. However, the Pakistani terrorist moved again the apex court seeking reconsideration of his review plea on the ground that a constitution bench had held that the review plea of a death row convict has to be heard in an open court by a three-judge bench. Agreeing with the contention, the top court stayed his conviction and decided on January 19, 2016 that his review plea would be heard in open court. The plea is pending since then.
According to the police, on a tip off from the Gujarat ATS that Kawa was travelling from Srinagar to Delhi, he was arrested last evening from Terminal-3 of the Delhi airport. The police submitted that the accused played the main role and participated in the offence by receiving money from Pakistan and other countries through hawala operators which was used in the attack and other terror activities in Jammu and Kashmir conducted by the LeT. The police claimed that money to the tune of Rs 29.50 lakh was transferred through hawala channels to various bank accounts, including those of Kawa, to fund the attack.