A student who dreamed of becoming an engineer but allegedly ended up as an operative of the Indian Mujahideen’s (IM) ‘Azamgarh Module’ which triggered bomb blasts across four states, police say that 38-year-old Ariz Khan sought to resurrect the banned terrorist outfit in the country.
Arrested by the Delhi Police Special Cell, from near the Indo-Nepal border in February 2018, police said Khan wore several hats – from those of an engineering aspirant to a school teacher, a restaurant owner to a labourer.
On Thursday, the Delhi High Court commuted the death penalty awarded to him by the trial court to life imprisonment.
Police claimed that Khan was behind blasts which killed over 160 people between November 2007 and September 2008 in incidents ranging from blasts outside courts in Lucknow, Faizabad and Varanasi as well as serial blasts at Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Delhi.
Born in Azamgarh, Ariz allegedly told police that he came to Delhi to prepare for engineering entrance exams, where he met Atif Ameen, an alleged commander of the IM, who was gunned down during the Batla House encounter, which Ariz was able to flee.
Both trained for, but failed to clear, the entrance exams, after which Ariz took admission in a B.Tech (Information Technology) course at a university in Muzaffarnagar but dropped out in the second year.
On September 19, 2008, days after the Delhi serial blasts, a team of the Special Cell raided the alleged hideout at Batla House where Ariz, Atif and two other alleged members of the IM were present; Ariz is alleged to have escaped with one of them after firing at the police team led by Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma, who was killed in the incident.
Ariz then, the police claimed, slipped into Nepal where he began operating a restaurant and later started teaching at a school before being contacted by one of the alleged founders of the IM, Riyaz Bhatkal, who asked him to reach Dammam in Saudi Arabia.
Police said he went to Saudi Arabia in September 2014 and worked as a labourer while touching base with IM sympathisers there.
He allegedly returned to Nepal in March 2017.
On Feburary 13, 2018, Ariz allegedly slipped into India and was held while he was on his way to UP to meet an old associate.