Police find cellphones of Parliament breach suspects
Police find cellphones of Parliament breach suspects

Lalit Jha is one of the accused of the security breach in the Lok Sabha that took place on December 13

Police have recovered broken and burnt cellphones that Lalit Jha, the alleged mastermind of Wednesday’s Parliament security breach, tried to destroy in Kuchaman, officials aware of the development said. Jha had fled to the city near Nagaur in western Rajasthan after the incident.

The remains of at least four damaged phones were recovered on Saturday near a guest house in Kuchaman (where Jha stayed overnight) by a team of the Delhi Police special cell that interrogated Jha after he was arrested on Thursdayand taken to locate the place where he broke and tried burning the phones.

Jha and his associates have been booked under sections 16 and 18 of the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and sections 186,353,452,153,34 and 120B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Section 201 and other relevant IPC sections have been added to the first information report in view of the destruction of evidence by the arrested, the officers said.

Jha’s personal mobile phone is yet to be found. Jha (35) had earlier told police that he destroyed his phone as did his five associates — Sagar Sharma (27), Manoranjan D (34), Amol Shinde (25), Neelam Singh (37) and Mahesh Kumawat (32) — who were allegedly part of the conspiracy to breach Parliament’s security. Investigators suspect he has been misleading them by making false claims regarding his phone, the officers said.

“The process of sending the recovered parts of the burnt and damaged phones to the forensic lab has been started,” a police officer said. “Forensic experts will try their best to retrieve data from the phones. That will be crucial evidence against the arrested people in establishing the entire conspiracy apart from ascertaining if they were influenced by someone to execute the security breach incident in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.”

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On December 13, the 22nd anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attack on Parliament, Sharma and Manoranjan walked past three layers of security before jumping into the Lok Sabha and spraying coloured smoke inside the chambers. At the same time, Shinde and Singh shouted slogans outside Parliament and sprayed coloured smoke from canisters before being taken into custody by security personnel.

Jha was present outside Parliament, holding Sharma, Manoranjan, Shinde and Singh’s cellphones. He recorded a video of the protest by Shinde and Singh on his cellphone and shared it with some people, who were part of the now-deleted Bhagat Singh Fan Club page, allegedly created on social media by the accused.

After the incident, Jha took a bus to Jaipur, where he stayed a night in a hotel before heading to Kumawat’s house in Nagaur. The two, along with Kumawat’s brother Kailash, returned to Delhi by bus on Thursday and went straight to Kartavya Path police station.

While Jha was arrested shortly after he surrendered to police and sent to seven-day police custody the next day, the two siblings were handed over to Delhi Police’s special cell for questioning, said another police officer aware of the development in the case.

The counter-intelligence team of the special cell probing the case arrested Mahesh Kumawat and secured seven days’ custody from a Delhi court to probe his alleged role in the conspiracy. He has also been accused of allegedly helping Jha in destroying the mobile phones and helping him secure a shelter in Kumawat’s home town.

Interrogation of the arrested people revealed that they, excluding Kumawat, had reached Parliament on December 13 early in the morning, a senior police officer said. Their original plan was to enter Lok Sabha together. However, they could arrange only two passes, forcing them to change their plan and send only Sharma and Manoranjan inside.

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“The two entered the Lok Sabha early, as they wanted to secure seats in the front row of the visitors’ gallery so that they could easily jump down into the place where members of Parliament were seated,” the officer added.

The arrested people revealed that they were inspired by the ideology of Bhagat Singh. However, when grilled in detail about the ideology, it was found that none of them were much aware of it, the officer said. “It has given investigators reasons to believe that the ideology the arrested people are talking about is just a ploy to mislead them for the original motive behind the incident,” he said.

Police find cellphones of Parliament breach suspects…