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Mad man for one, militant for another

Sept. 12: Thirty-six hours after “arresting” Saidul Haque alias Sajid for allegedly trying to remove fish-plates on railway tracks, Dhanbad police had “almost concluded” that he is a mentally deranged person.

Haque, however, is being remanded in judicial custody following his “confession” that he was planning derailment of trains and had joined the Students’ Islamic Movement of India (Simi) in August.

But Shahid, one of Sajid’s accomplices or mentors, who Bengal home secretary A.K. Deb claimed was a prominent Simi leader, and two others who were picked up from Gomoh were released on bail in Dhanbad.

When the police swooped down on Shahid’s house in Gomoh, he is reported to have insisted that no woman by the name of “Simi” lived in the area. Jharkhand inspector-general of police (South Chhotanagpur zone) Rajiv Kumar and Dhanbad superintendent of police M.L. Meena said over phone that despite sustained efforts, no involvement of Simi had been found so far.

Meena refuted newspaper reports which said Sajid’s accomplices had opened fire at plainclothesmen yesterday and fled. Moreover, he was arrested at 9.30 am and not “hours before” Rajdhani Express was to pass in the evening, as reported in a section of the newspapers, he added.

Actually, the police superintendent claimed, Sajid was arrested because he was found walking on the railway bridge in Barakar “in a suspicious manner”. The man, in his early thirties, was alone and no weapon was recovered from him.

Sajid claimed that he was on his way to Asansol, where his in-laws lived, and was walking up to Barakar, where he hoped to buy a train ticket with the five-rupee note that he had.

But he also readily admitted to the police that he was paid money — he claimed Rs 200 at one point and Rs 2,000 at another — by Simi to carry out subversive activities. He also owned up responsibility for the theft of “pandrol clips” on railway tracks in the area, reported on August 23, 31 and September 10, following which plainclothesmen and RPF jawans were deployed.

Chief track engineer of Eastern Railway Dulal Mitra said in Calcutta dislocation of 20 to 30 clips do not usually create any problem for trains. But accidents could take place if 40 to 50 clips were dislocated from consecutive sleepers (one sleeper is fitted with four clips). This was not the case in the thefts in late August and early September. Sajid told interrogators that three of his neighbours in Gomoh were members of the banned outfit and often held closed-door meetings while he stood guard outside.

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