A Delhi court on Monday awarded a death sentence to Ariz Khan, who was convicted for the murder of police inspector Mohan Chand Sharma in the Batla House encounter case. In September 2008, the encounter had taken place between the Delhi police’s Special Cell and Indian Mujahideen operatives at Batla House in Delhi’s Jamia Nagar just days after a serial blast had rocked Delhi. At least 26 people were killed and 133 injured in the blast. On Monday, the court held it to be the rarest of rare case.
What had happened?
On September 13, 2008, five bombs had exploded at Connaught Place, Greater Kailash, Karol Bagh and India Gate, leading to the registration of five cases. Later, the Indian Mujahideen had taken responsibility for the blasts. On September 19, 2008, the encounter took place after the police under the supervision of Inspector Sharma received information about the presence of suspects at a flat in Batla House. The police had conducted the raid at the flat to trace and look out for a user of one mobile number.
When the police tried to enter the flat, a gunfight between the police and accused led to injuries to Inspector Sharma and Head Constable Balwant Singh.
Doctors at AIIMS hospital declared the IM operatives Mohd Atif Ameen and Mohd Sajid brought dead. Inspector Sharma also succumbed to injuries. Ariz Khan and Shahzad Ahmad allegedly escaped from the site. Mohd Saif surrendered before the police.
After completion of the investigation, the police had filed a charge sheet against Mohd Atif Ameen and Mohd Sajid – both of them had died in the encounter – Ariz Khan and Shahzad Ahmad. No offence was made out against Mohd Saif, who was one of the occupants of the flat.
In 2010, Shahzad was arrested by ATS Lucknow and allegedly made a disclosure statement. He was held from the house of his grandfather in Azamgarh. He was convicted in 2013 by the Saket Court.
When was Ariz Khan arrested?
Ariz Khan had been on the run for a decade before he was arrested by the Delhi Police Special Cell in 2018. According to the police, Ariz was held on the information of one Abdul Subhan Qureshi, the alleged mastermind of the 2008 Ahmedabad serial blasts, from Uttarakhand. The court last week held that he was a “trained criminal” and not “an ordinary individual”. The police had earlier announced a reward of Rs 5 Lakh for information about him. He was also on the radar of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) which had announced a reward of Rs 10 Lakh.
He is also facing six other cases in Delhi where the trial is still pending. Last month he had told the court that he has nothing to say apart from what his counsel has argued. He also alleged that he has been falsely implicated in the case. The prosecution on Monday prayed for his death penalty.