NEW DELHI: Mohd. Shafi Sheikh, an ISI agent who played key role in mobilising people in Nepal and India to plant explosives on the railway tracks in Bihar last year, is said to have fled to Pakistan from Dubai, where he had been staying, a senior Home Ministry official said.
Before India and Nepal (where he is wanted in a double murder case) could request the UAE authorities to seek Sheikh’s custody, he had already left for Pakistan.
Sheikh has been on the radar of intelligence agencies for long and has also been accused of pumping in fake currency into India through Nepal from different entry points. He has been instrumental in polluting the minds of villagers in different methods and with fake currency notes, and instigated them in various means to commit crime by planting explosives on the railway tracks in India.
Shamshul Hoda, a Nepalese businessman who first met the Pakistani national in Malaysia, then in Karachi and on several occasions in Dubai, told a National Investigation Agency (NIA) team, which interrogated him in Kathmandu last month, that the latter had asked him to “create mayhem” in India.
The Nepal police had arrested Hoda on his return from Dubai on February 2 for his alleged involvement in the murder of two people, who were initially hired to carry out “spectacular incidents in India.”
While Hoda confirmed that he had been asked by Sheikh to plant explosives at Ghorasan in Motihari, Bihar, on October 1 last year, he told the NIA team that he was unaware of any such plan with regard to the Kanpur and Kuneru railway derailments.
Hoda has told the Nepal police that he went to Karachi seven months back on Sheikh’s invitation, where he allegedly met three other persons.
“Hoda told us that he was not sure about the association of Shafi [Sheikh] and three others with Pakistan’s ISI but he says he was asked to do something spectacular in India. He says he stayed in a bungalow at Karachi for two days, where he was treated well and asked to rope in his local contacts to create trouble in India,” a Nepal police official said.
The NIA was tasked with investigating the three railway accidents for any terror-related conspiracy after Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu shot off a letter to Home Minister Rajnath Singh alleging “sabotage.”
Mr. Prabhu’s letter was sent after Moti Paswan, one of the three persons arrested by the Bihar police in January for his alleged involvement in planting a pressure cooker bomb at Ghorasan, claimed to have planted the bomb in Kanpur, which led to the derailment of the Indore-Patna Express on November 20, 2016.
However, when an NIA team quizzed him, Paswan said he was only boasting about his involvement. “Bihar police has told us that after Paswan, recently two more people arrested for other criminal offences confessed on their own to have committed the Kanpur accident; we are not sure about the claims and are investigating,” said a senior NIA official.
During an election rally in Gonda, Uttar Pradesh on February 23, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said the Kanpur accident was “a conspiracy and conspirators carried it out sitting across the border.”
However, Home Minister Rajnath Singh told Parliament on Wednesday that “the Prime Minister did not directly mention ISI’s name in the Kanpur train derailment case” and investigations in three train accidents were yet to be completed by the NIA.