The brutal assassination of NIA deputy superintendent of police, Tanzil Ahmad on Saturday at his hometown of Bijnore is the most shocking case of the murder of a member of the establishment in recent times. The former BSF officer — who was on deputation to the NIA — was a daring hand and was responsible for coordinating the movements of the visiting Pakistani Joint Investigation Team team looking into the Pathankot terror attacks. Exterminating him in a gruesome manner using sophisticated weaponry and 24 bullets prove the determination and resolve of his assassins in their bid to eliminate Ahmad.
It's been more than five days since the murder, and there don't seem to be any clues or leads to help investigators. The NIA is a premier investigative agency and its capabilities have been put to the test to solve this dastardly murder. The agency should use the best of its expertise and technical-plus-scientific know-how to find the murderers and ascertain their agenda.
A Special Task Force (STF) from Uttar Pradesh that is believed to be collaborating with the NIA in the investigations also appears to be directionless. Although the probe teams claim that they are looking into all possible angles leading to the murder and not leaving anything to chance, the terror angle is perhaps a strong factor meriting attention.
During a TV panel discussion on Tuesday, a noted security analyst didn't rule out the idea that some sleeper terror modules were activated by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence to kill Ahmad. Any enmity in the victim's village or past hostility is also being looked examined. There are a very few determined officers in our investigative teams and even fewer who had the courage to be associated with the visiting Pakistani probe team facilitating investigations.
It's not merely a protocol job.
Professional acumen also goes along with the responsibilities.
Ahmad delivered in copious measure while discharging his duties but his death right after the probe team left, raises many questions.
Did the seniors account for or anticipate any harm that was in the offing? Was security cover provided? Did the NIA ask the Central and state intelligence agencies for feedback on Ahmad's movements — to spot if he was being trailed by his assassins? What about his background checks?
It is well-known — having appeared in the media — that Ahmad was also involved in exposing drug cartels. Hence, all these possibilities must be explored.
The braveheart belonged to the BSF and there was a sizable presence of the BSF at his last rites. One wonders if any high-profile or important dignitaries were present on the occasion. So far the outpouring of grief at Ahmad's death has been rather muted. The country needs to keep up the morale of the force (in this case, both of the BSF and the NIA), so that their commitment remains high and officers are constantly prepared to lay down their lives for the motherland.
The UP STF and NIA teams must be put under the purview of an experienced IPS officer — with a past record of proven investigating capabilities — who should monitor the progress of the case on a day-to-day basis and finish the investigation in a timely manner, rather than embark on an indefinite run-of-the-mill exercise. Pakistan has already accused India of staging the Pathankot attacks and if at all there is a terror angle to Ahmad's murder, Pakistan will again have the last laugh.
This is a luxury that Islamabad should be denied for all times to come.
The author is a retired IPS officer of the UP cadre. Views are personal