Panaji: In a significant disclosure, Goa Police have said that 45-year-old chartered accountant Samir Sardana, a former army officer's son who was arrested by the state anti-terrorism squad (ATS), is allegedly linked to the 2008 terror incidents in India.
According to documents tabled during the recently-concluded Monsoon session of the Goa legislative assembly, Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar, quoting a summary of the police investigation, has said that Sardana, son of a retired Indian Army major general, had as many as 35 e-mail IDs and of them only six have been examined by the investigating agencies so far.
"The efforts to unearth his involvement in any previous terror strikes are being made as a letter has been found in his possession indicating his involvement in the 2008 related terror incidents in the country," Parsekar told the assembly last week.
Parsekar's written reply to a question raised by an Opposition legislator, does not elaborate on the nature of the 2008 terror incidents.
But Parsekar also categorically added that thus far "the suspected person could not be linked directly to any banned terror outfit beyond pre-operational level".
Speaking to IANS after his release on bail on 11 February, Sardana had denied all the allegations and claimed he was harassed by the police because of his interest in Islam.
Police claim that Sardana has worked as a consultant for multi-national companies abroad. He was arrested by the ATS on February 1 from the Vasco railway station, 35 km from Panaji, after railway police reported him for suspicious movement.
The ATS claimed to have seized four mobile phones, six passports, 23 SIM cards and a laptop, which police said had internet-downloaded data about previous bomb blasts in the country and information about bomb-making.
After initial investigation, police conceded that of the six passports, five were genuine documents past their expiry date, while the sixth was a legitimately acquired passport.
The tabled reply claims that with the help of central agencies and internet service providers, the ATS had managed to crack only six of the 35 e-mail IDs created by Sardana.
"After concerted efforts, the investigation agencies so far only managed to access six e-mails with the help of cyber technicians. Out of six e-mails, specific contents pointing towards the suspect sympathising to the cause of certain banned terror outfits are found and technical and ISP help has been sought," the chief minister's reply says.
"Sardana has a peculiar style of transmitting the data to others and the same is not found easily on his system for which technical assistance is sought to analyse the same. Also exploring the possibilities of him using any sort of forensic tools to manipulate his data," the reply adds, explaining in detail the roadblocks involved in tracking down Sardana's online crumb-trail.
Sardana was booked under Section 41 of the Criminal Procedure Code and was released on conditional bail by a local trial court with a surety of Rs 10,000 and with directions to him not to leave the country without the court's permission.
According to Parsekar, a senior official of Uttarakhand Police's special task force has been requested "to maintain watch on his activities and to keep him under strict surveillance".
However, Sardana, before heading back to Dehradun after his release on bail on 11 February, told IANS that he was racially profiled and harassed because of his interest in Islam and that information from his e-mails was being leaked strategically.
"There was physical torture, racial taunts. They asked me: Why do you want to become a Muslim? What do you see in Islam? They used abusive language. They (police) said I have converted to Islam... No. I am a student of Islam, its meta-physics and such things," he maintained.