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Terrorist or thief: Lone query

New Delhi, Nov. 10: A terrorist yesterday and a thief today'

Ghulam Mohammad Mohiuddin Lone’s story ' as told by the army and police ' is turning out to be quite strange.

Arrested by the army and Jammu and Kashmir police for involvement in the pre-Diwali serial blasts in Delhi, Lone was yesterday described as a militant owing allegiance to the feared Hizb-ul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Toiba.

A day later, the same Jammu and Kashmir police held a news conference to announce that poor Lone could merely be a petty thief.

He might have cleaned out his employer, but only to the extent of Rs 20,000. “Even this has to be verified,” said S.P. Vaid, Jammu and Kashmir inspector-general of police.

Lone, it seems, might have only been the cleaner of a truck, and not a terrorist toting an AK-47.

But Delhi police, who are questioning the youth, said to be around 21, are not taking any chances and checking everything he has told them.

Lone had earlier said he had placed a bomb at Paharganj after scouting the area with three accomplices. But, police sources said, he did not recognise the blast site there.

Karnail Singh, the Delhi police joint commissioner (special cell), who is heading the probe into the blasts that killed 61 people, said: “We have found a number of inconsistencies in his statements which are being verified.”

He added: “The J&K police arrested Lone in a murder case. During interrogation, he gave some information about the Delhi blasts. He is still under investigation.”

Lone, from Banihal in Doda district, was detained by the army during a search on Sunday. Sources said Lone told investigators that he had assisted Lashkar-e-Toiba operatives in carrying out the blasts as they were looking for someone familiar with Delhi.

It is possible he knows the place because, as the cleaner of a truck, he might have travelled to Delhi. Mohd Iqbal, the owner of a transport company whose name has been mentioned by Lone, is being questioned and the two have been brought face to face.

According to the police, Lone had told them that he was deputed to the Delhi operation after a so-called Lashkar commander, Bahadur Chand, contacted his counterpart in Hizb-ul, Abdul Hamid.

Senior Delhi police officials, however, said such pooling of resources by militant outfits was unusual.

“Whatever leads we have got will be followed. We will not make any loose statements,” Singh said.

It cannot be said for sure if the statement was aimed at the army and Jammu and Kashmir police, but Singh was asked if they had made a premature announcement while linking Lone to the Delhi blasts.

“They must have said that on the basis of their own interrogation,” he replied.

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