Former UPA minister and Congress leader Salman Khurshid has spoken exclusively to Republic TV on the Delhi Police's arrest of Ariz Khan, alias Junaid, a suspected Indian Mujahideen (IM) terrorist believed to have been involved in the Batla House encounter in 2008.
While he said 'it was a good thing' that Junaid had been caught, incredibly, Khurshid again reiterated his scepticism over the encounter:
"We were all very surprised that in the presence of a posse of armed police who were providing backup to those who had been involved in the encounter, including having cut off the escape routes, etc, that someone still managed to escape, that seemed very alarming."
"It's a complicated mesh of cases in which these boys are involved."
When the encounter had occurred, the Congress had doubted its legitimacy, resulting in talk of 'fake encounters', 'extrajudicial killings' of the killing of two 'Muslim youth', not terrorists.
Speaking to Republic, Khurshid clarified, "No one had said it was a fake encounter", though back in 2012, he had reportedly made the following statement:
"I was not a minister at that time but still took the issue of the Batla House encounter to Sonia Gandhi. When we showed photographs of that incident to Mrs Gandhi, she wept bitterly. She asked me to go immediately to the Prime Minister to discuss the matter. I talked to the PM and it was decided that the matter would be further investigated and even the decision to appoint some retired chief justice of the Supreme Court to look into the matter was taken. Everything was ready, however due to election time, we could not do something as some people were in opinion that at the time of election, this thing could not be done."
He had again later clarified that Sonia Gandhi had become emotional, not broken down.
Ariz Khan, alias 'Junaid' was arrested by the Delhi Police's Special Cell on Wednesday. He was present at Batla House, along with four others, and had managed to give police the slip during the encounter on September 19, 2008`, in Delhi's Jamia Nagar, in which two Indian Mujahideen terrorists were killed and as many arrested.
Encounter specialist and Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma, who led the police action, was also killed during the operation.
A trial court in Delhi in July 2013 had sentenced Indian Mujahideen (IM) terrorist Shahzad Ahmed to life imprisonment in connection with the Batla House encounter case. His appeal against the trial court's verdict has been pending in the high court.