| Policemen at the encounter site look at Mehtar’s gun. (PTI)
Ahmedabad, Jan. 13: A suspected Lashkar-e-Toiba militant, who was reportedly targeting VIPs, was killed by crime branch sleuths today.
Police said Sadiq Jamal Mehtar, 25, had conspired to kill deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and VHP international general-secretary Praveen Togadia.
Mehtar, shot in the city’s Naroda locality, a stone’s throw from Naroda-Patia, around 1.30 this morning, was from Bhavnagar.
A fortnight ago, the Intelligence Bureau had tipped off the city police that Mehtar was hiding somewhere in Naroda or Bapunagar. Mehtar’s photograph, too, was faxed along with a note on his intention. “As (soon as) we received the information, we put a team on the job to track down Mehtar. Security for the possible targets was also stepped up,” joint police commissioner (crime branch) P.P. Pande said.
Yesterday, a crime branch sleuth was tipped off that Mehtar would meet an associate near Galaxy Cinema in Naroda around 11.30 pm. When he was spotted walking towards Naroda-Patia from the cinema, a police mobile jeep swung into action. Mehtar, sensing trouble, opened fire with his revolver. The crime branch sleuths retaliated, killing him on the spot.
Naroda police guarded the site as curious onlookers from the neighbourhood came by for a look. Mehtar’s revolver lay at the site till late this morning.
The encounter follows another on October 22 when Samirkhan Sarfarazkhan Pathan was killed in the city’s Navrangpura locality. Pathan was one of the 13 accused of and arrested for plotting to kill Modi during the Gaurav Yatra. Pathan was in police custody when he died.
According to police, Mehtar, based in Dubai for the past five years, had two accomplices in the emirate; four others were said to be in Karachi. At least two cases of arson and looting were registered against Mehtar at Bhavnagar in 1995-96. Bhavnagar police had also arrested him on gambling charges during Ramazan the same year.
Later, Mehtar went to Mumbai, where he came in touch with the underworld. After moving to Dubai, he reportedly established contact with Salim Chiploo, a Pakistan-based aide of gangsters Anees Ibrahim and Chhota Shakeel.
TV scribe shot
A journalist working with a local television channel was killed and his friend injured after car-borne assailants shot at them near Raval village, close to Vadodara, police said, quoting PTI.