South Africa to probe Dawood gang member; linked to murders of Gujarat BJP, VHP leaders
South Africa agreed to investigate an Indian citizen who is an aide of the most wanted terrorist Dawood, in the murders of a VHP activist and a BJP leader
South Africa has agreed to investigate an Indian citizen, Zahidmiya Saikh, an alleged aide of terrorist Dawood Ibrahim, in the murders of a VHP activist and a BJP leader in Gujarat two years ago, according to media reports.
Saikh, alias Jao is wanted by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for allegedly conspiring to kill Vishwa Hindu Parishad activist Shirish Bengali and BJP leader Pragnesh Mistry at Bharuch, Gujarat, in November 2015.
The NIA’s probe revealed that Saikh, based in South Africa, had hired killers in Gujarat on the directions of Javed Dawoodbhai Patel, alias Javed Chikna, a key member of the Dawood gang based in Pakistan, The Hindu reported.
The NIA had been in touch with South Africa since last year, requesting their cooperation. The NIA provided crucial details, including latest photographs and Saikh's phone number. Saikh is suspected to be in Pretoria.
Request for provisional arrest of Saikh has been sought under Article 12 of the India-South Africa extradition treaty, according to a report in India Today.
"An attempt to have a video conferencing between the officials of both the countries failed, with South Africa police stone-walling NIA's repeated request for a follow up. The matter was discussed at the highest level, with the agency even requesting the Indian High Commissioner in South Africa to plead their request with them. The repeated push finally yielded. NIA has been mulling to send a team to the country, but only after there is a positive development," according to the report.
South African officials responded a few days ago after the enormity of situation was brought to light. Initially, hesitation existed because the need to investigate a murder as a terrorist attack. Enough evidence was not provided to asses the situation, The Hindu reported.
“It’s a positive development that South Africa has agreed to open an investigation, based on our request. We will wait for the outcome. Earlier, they had asked why a murder was being investigated as a terror case. When we shared the details of the links to Pakistan, they agreed to act," a senior NIA official said, according to the report.
A charge sheet filed in 2016 reveals a darker plot. The murders seemed to be motivated by the Gujarat riots of 2002. The intentions were to target the anti-Muslim leaders present at the riots. "Saikh contacted young people in India and offered them handsome money to work for the ‘D’ company and lured them with foreign jobs,” according to the report.
According to India Today, the charge sheet read, “Shirish Bengali’s murder was part of a larger conspiracy to target people from the RSS, the VHP, the Bajrang Dal and the BJP. Twenty-six foreign conspirators, based in South Africa and Pakistan, formed a terrorist gang and hatched a conspiracy through voice call, SMS and WhatsApp calls and messages to kill persons belonging to a particular section of society with the intention of terrorising them and creating communal unrest.”
Javed Chikna, now settled in Karachi, had sent the names of the people to be targeted to Saikh in October 2015, a month before the murders , according to the NIA. From these reports, the links between the Gujarat riots and the conspiracy become apparent.
The case was earlier investigated by the Gujarat Police and then transferred to the NIA. Twelve persons were arrested for the murders: Saiyed Mohammad Kadri, Zuheb Ansari, Inayat Patel, Mohammad Yunus, Haider Ali, Nissarbhai Sheikh, Moshin Khan, Mohammad Altaf, Abid Patel, Abdul Salim, Abdul Samad and Nasir Khan Pathan India Today reported.
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