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  • Linked to Khalistani terrorists, ISI & SIMI in the past, Saquib Nachan has faced terror charges since 1991 | Mumbai News

Linked to Khalistani terrorists, ISI & SIMI in the past, Saquib Nachan has faced terror charges since 1991 | Mumbai News

Sixtythree-year-old Saquib Nachan, arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Saturday as part of a major crackdown on an Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) module in India, has been linked to Khalistani terrorists, Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) in the past — and now the ISIS.

He has been facing terror charges since 1991, long before the demolition of the Babri Masjid caused the gravitation of a section of Muslim youth towards terror activities.

Apart from Syed Abdul Karim alias Tunda and the Bhatkal Brothers, Nachan was accused of having masterminded the maximum number of bombings in the country. He was blamed for organising three bomb blasts in Mumbai during 2002-03, accused of having fought with the Afghan Mujahideen against the Russians in the eighties, faced charges of murdering three persons and sending a slew of Muslims to Pakistan to receive arms training.

Born into a respectable and well-off family, which has large land holdings in Borivali-Padhna, a Konkani Muslim-dominated village 53 km north of Mumbai, Nachan, a little over 5 feet 2 inches, has been associated with SIMI and served as its Maharashtra president and later as its general secretary. Nachan has faced 11 cases related to terrorism and murder, for which he spent over 15 years inside prison.

The third son of noted Muslim community leader Abdul Hamid Nachan, he spent his formative years along with his 11 other siblings in Borivali in relative prosperity.

Festive offer

A Commerce graduate, Nachan gradually gravitated from the Jamaat-e-Islaami, which had a small cubhole office in Padgha, to its student wing, the SIMI, in the early eighties.

The spunk and leadership qualities that Nachan showed made him rise quickly up the SIMI hierarchy becoming its Maharashtra president and gradually its general secretary. Nachan was also instrumental in organising one of SIMI’s biggest rallies in Mumbai, where over 10,000 people turned up. His contemporaries include men like C A M Basheer, former president of SIMI who it is alleged were instrumental in making SIMI take a violent path.

Sometimes in the mid-eighties, Nachan was accused of having turned rogue and gone into Pakistan and from there on to the Afghanistan border. “During 1990, he visited Pakistan twice. His real purpose was to meet Salahuddin Sudani and Abdur-Rahim-Rasool Sayyef to discuss ways and means to train Muslim youths in arms, ammunition and explosives. Till 1991 he was sending Sikh youths to Pakistan for military training,” a Central Bureau of Investigation chargesheet filed against him in 1992 said.

The government had also claimed that Nachan was a part of Operation K2, an ambitious ISI plan to create a common pan-India infrastructure for Khalistan and Muslim radicals in the country. Nachans brief was to hire safe-houses where these radicals could hide and weapons smuggled across the Gujarat border could be stored.

Nachan was subsequently arrested in Ahmedabad in mid-1992 and convicted in 1997 along with Lal Singh, a Khalistani terrorist, for life by a Terrorism and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) court in Gujarat. The Supreme Court turned the punishment to 10 years in jail which Nachan served in full.

Nachan, however, had claimed that he was framed by authorities. “Yes I did visit Pakistan but I travelled on my own passport and that too legally. I have ancestral property in Pakistan which had to be taken care of,” Nachan had told The Indian Express earlier.

After serving his sentence in April 2001, Nachan returned to Padgha. He was later made an accused in three murder cases. Hindu lawyers and a Muslim who were alleged to be working against the interest of the Muslim community in the region were shot dead in broad daylight. Nachan and his associates were blamed for these murders and cases filed against them but were subsequently acquitted.
Between December 2002 and March 2003 soon after the Gujarat riots there were a spate of four bomb blasts in Mumbai which claimed 15 lives and maimed countless others.

A beleaguered Congress-NCP government, which was facing allegations of its senior cabinet members having connived with scamsters like Abdul Rahman Telgi, was desperate to put a stop to these terror activities and pin down the perpetrators.

On Marcy 27, 2003, a police party landed in Borivali to pick up Nachan. It included the dreaded squad of the Mumbai Police, including officers like Pradeep Sharma, Daya Nayak and Sachin Vaze who amongst them were known to have gunned down over 400 criminals. The officers were beaten up by the locals at Nachan’s behest.

As he was being bundled into a jeep, Nachan is said to have shouted “Allah-0-Akbar”. Nachans’s cry attracted the local youth from the vicinity to his house. In the next few minutes, a mob of youngsters surrounded the raiding party asking them to provide reasons for Nachan’s arrest. As things heated up the mob got violent and many senior officers were roughed up. Nachan was taken out from the police jeep with the crowd baying for the officers blood.

Intervention by village elders ensured that the police officers got away; however, a day later Mumbai woke up to headlines that three terrorists including two Pakistanis and a Kashmiri were gunned down in Ghatkopar by the same team of officers.
A chargesheet of the blast cases claims that a diary was recovered from the dead terrorists which showed Nachan’s involvement with them.

With the police increasing its dragnet around Borivali and detaining every youth who dared to step out of the village after the incident, Nachan decided that it made sense to surrender.

The Mumbai Police subsequently blamed Nachan along with a group of 15 others for planning four blasts in Mumbai. They were booked for the December 2002 Ghatkopar blast, December 2002 Mumbai Central blast, January 200 Vile Parle blast and March 2003 Mulund blast. Police claimed that he had confessed to his involvement in these cases and a search of his home and those of his associates had led to the discovery of lethal weapons like AK-56 and AK-47 from their homes.

“Nachan collected men, firearms, ammunition and material for preparing bombs and arranged for training of the Muslim youths with the intention of waging war or being prepared to wage war against the Government of India,” the chargsheet of the Mumbai Police against Nachan reads.

He was subsequently discharged from the December 2002 Ghatkopar blast but was convicted for a period of 10 years under POTA for possessing weapons. He walked out of prison in 2017 spending the bulk of his time in Borivali-Padgha.

He hit the news again in August when his son Shamil, named after the Chechan rebel fighter Shamil Basayev was arrested by NIA in August this year for linkages with ISIS.

Four months later the NIA arrested Saquib as well linking him to ISIS.

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