| Samir Khan Pathan (AFP)
Ahmedabad, Oct. 22: Suspected Jaish-e-Mohammad operative Samir Khan Pathan, arrested for plotting Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi’s assassination, was killed in a late night police encounter while being taken to verify the “spot” where he had killed a constable in 1996.
Joint commissioner (crime branch) P.P. Pande said Pathan was shot at 1.30 am when he tried to snatch the service revolver of one of the officers.
“The police had to fire at him in self-defence,” he claimed.
The 30-year-old Pathan, arrested on September 27 from a city bus terminus, was yesterday handed over to crime branch officials on a transfer warrant after the constable murder case was recently transferred to the crime branch.
His interrogation had led to the arrest of six others from Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. All of them were booked for criminal conspiracy, waging or attempting to wage war against the government, collecting arms and forging documents.
However, no firearms or explosive material was recovered from Pathan.
“We thought it was safe to take him there at night,” Pande said, asked why Pathan was being taken at midnight to the spot.
“Had we taken him there during the day, innocent people might have been killed because he was a trained terrorist who could do any thing. He could take some people hostages.”
Pathan’s father Sarfaraj Khan claims that the police killed his “innocent son” because they were not being able to establish the conspiracy theory they had floated.
“My son,” he said, “could be a criminal but he was not a terrorist. If he was a terrorist, as the police claim, where are the weapons and ammunition recovered from him'”
The elder Pathan, who has decided to approach the National Human Rights Commission for a probe into the “fake encounter”, is not the only one to have questioned the police claim.
“Yes, it is definitely a fake encounter,” said advocate and social activist Mohsin Quadri.
That Pathan was being taken to the spot at night raised several questions, Quadri said. And how could a handcuffed person snatch a revolver and fire at a team of eight armed policemen, he asked. The police also failed to explain why they took Pathan to the civil hospital after the alleged encounter and not the V.S. Hospital, which was nearer.