'These are not your bombers'

Sep 09, 2011, 06:51 IST | Mohit Sharma and Atul Krishan

Say National Investigation Agency sources, a day after Delhi police released these sketches following the terror attack outside the High Court

Say National Investigation Agency sources, a day after Delhi police released these sketches following the terror attack outside the High Court

Reminiscent of what happened after the recent Mumbai blasts, there seems to be a clash of egos between investigating agencies over Wednesday's terror attack in the Capital. Less than 24 hours after the Delhi High Court blast claiming thirteen lives, Delhi police's special cell and the National Investigating Agency (NIA) were reportedly at loggerheads. While Delhi police, almost stealing the thunder, released sketches of two suspects on Wednesday, the NIA yesterday reportedly urged for fresh sketches, ostensibly challenging the former.

Fresh start
"We would go for fresh sketches as we have come to the conclusion that these have failed to substantially incorporate the descriptions provided by eyewitnesses," a senior NIA official said. Besides, the special cell is furious of the fact that an important case, which has occurred in its territory, has been handed over to another agency.

Bird's eye view: Officers of National Investigation Agency (NIA) collect
evidence from a tree top near the site of the blast outside Delhi High
Court. Pic/Imtiyaz Khan

On Thursday, a team of NIA officials led by agency chief SC Sinha visited the Delhi Police Commissioner's office and discussed some important issues. The team spent more than an hour at Police Headquarters (PHQ). The NIA officials reached PHQ at around 12:10 pm and were there till 1:15 pm. According to a highly-placed source, the team was seeking assistance from Delhi police officials in the blast case. Top brass officials who participated in the meeting assured the NIA team of full cooperation.

NIA officials have made it clear before the Delhi Police that they will speak to fresh eyewitnesses to release new sketches of suspects. Two sketches are likely to be issued. The NIA team has also decided not to take help of Delhi police artists to prepare the sketches. According to an NIA official who did not wish to be named, the agency will call someone from Mumbai who will speak to more eyewitnesses to make the sketches. He said that they have apprised Delhi police about these plans. The NIA will also hold discussions with ATS teams of some states to look for leads.

"Teams of ATS of neighbouring states are reaching Delhi today for discussions and consultations with NIA and Delhi Police in connection with the investigation of the blast case," Secretary (Internal Security) in Home Ministry UK Bansal told reporters yesterday. He said teams of NIA are vigorously pursuing various leads with the cooperation of Delhi Police.

Parallel probe
"Some information indicating towards a Kashmir connection with an email received from Harkat-ul-Jehadi organisation is being pursued with the help of the Jammu and Kashmir Police," he said. Meanwhile, Delhi police will conduct a parallel investigation in the case. In a meeting yesterday, top brass officials decided to form a team of senior police officers of special cell and crime branch. A senior official on condition of anonymity confirmed these developments. He said that this team will scrutinise the call locations of mobile phones that were active in the area at the time of the incident, to try and reach the culprits. "Call location will help the police find out who were present at the crime scene before the blast took place," he said. 

Compare and contrast Special Cell
Special Cell has four units within Delhi with a staff of about 750 security personnel. It came into being in the 1990s. Special Cell has been in the news on a number of occasions, from the Batla Encounter to ACP Rajbir Singh, who played a major role in counter-terrorism activities in the Capital. Special Cell has four wings: New Delhi range, southern range, northern range and an intelligence unit in Chanakyapuri. Every unit has about 150 cops working on counter-terrorism in the city and has more than fifteen teams of inspectors in total.

National Investigation Agency (NIA)
NIA was formed after the Mumbai 26/11 massacre with the sole goal to counter terrorism in India. They have handled just six cases since then. They have three units across India: Guwahati, Hyderabad and headquarters in Delhi, and strength of just 300 security personnel are divided in these three units, which is quite less when compared to special cell. Around 90 cops out of the 300 indulge more or less in clerical work.

Big money
The NIA yesterday announced a reward of Rs five lakh for anyone providing clues about the Delhi High Court. "NIA has announced a reward of Rs five lakh for anyone giving any information to follow up the case. As far as investigation is concerned, that is going on. Delhi Police and NIA are coordinating (with each other)," Union Home Secretary RK Singh told reporters.

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