Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Parliament security breach: Police file terrorism charges against 4; 8 security personnel suspended

Date:

New Delhi: Police have filed terrorism charges under the stringent UAPA against four people arrested after two of them jumped into the Lok Sabha chamber and set off smoke canisters in a major security breach inside Parliament that also led to the suspension of eight Delhi Police personnel. The key conspirator was arrested on Thursday.

As more details emerged on what Delhi police said was a “well-planned attack on Parliament” a day earlier, police sources said Lalit Mohan Jha came to Kartavya Path Police station on Thursday evening where he was arrested and handed over to the Special Cell.

Delhi Police said that six people were involved in the sensational incident that coincided with the 22nd anniversary of the terror attack on Parliament that left nine people dead. Vishal Sharma alias Vickey, in whose house the accused stayed in Gurugram before reaching Parliament, is still under detention.

The sources said the role of two more persons has also surfaced during investigations, adding all the accused did everything as part of their foolproof plan.

The four arrested persons– Sagar Sharma (26), Manoranjan D (34), Amol Shinde (25) and Neelam Devi (37) — were charged under the stringent anti-terror law UAPA besides sections of the Indian Penal Code(IPC). Offences punishable under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act(UAPA) are non-bailable.

A Delhi court sent the four arrested people to the city police’s custody for seven days for interrogation after they were produced before Special Judge for NIA cases Hardeep Kaur. The police had sought their custodial interrogation for 15 days.

During the hearing of arguments, the Delhi police accused the four of indulging in an act of terrorism and said they tried to incite fear.

“It was a well-planned attack on Parliament,” it said.

The police submitted that they have added Sections 16 and 18 of UAPA related to terrorism and conspiracy for terrorism respectively.

“Their right was limited to the gallery. They jumped from the (visitors) gallery into the Well, which was trespass. They hid (smoke) canister in their shoes,” the police said while referring to the security breach.

The prosecution said the custodial interrogation of the four arrested people was necessary to unravel the actual motive behind the incident and find out if some other people were also involved.

“Special shoes were made in Lucknow which needs to be probed. They need to be taken to Mumbai, Mysore and Lucknow for probe,” the court was told.

A police official, who requested anonymity, said security agencies have not found any connection with terror groups so far, a day after Sagar and Manoranjan jumped into the Lok Sabha chamber from the public gallery during Zero Hour, released coloured smoke from canisters and shouted slogans causing panic before being overpowered by some MPs.

Around the same time at 1.01 pm, Amol and Neelam sprayed coloured smoke from canisters while shouting “tanashahi nahi chalegi” outside Parliament premises.

The case against the four was registered under UAPA sections 16 (punishment for terrorist act) and 18 (punishment for conspiracy, etc.) and IPC sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 452 (trespass), 153 (wantonly giving provocation, with intent to cause riot), 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions) and 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty) at the Parliament Street police station, police sources said.

Names of two organisations have also emerged in the investigations by police and their roles are being examined, they said, adding all the accused are giving the same answers to the investigation team.

“It seems that they had already made preparations as to what to answer when the police interrogate them when they are caught,” they said.

Sources said Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a meeting with some ministers in the Parliament complex underlined the sensitivity of the issue of security breach and advised his ministerial colleagues to not engage in any political squabbling with opposition leaders over the matter.

What has happened is a serious issue, Modi is believed to have said, expressing confidence that Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla will take appropriate corrective measures.

Proceedings were also disrupted in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha forcing several adjournments following vociferous protests by Opposition members demanding a statement from the government on the security breach.

As many as 14 opposition MPs including one from the Rajya Sabha were suspended for disrupting the proceedings.

While TMC’s Derek O’Brien was suspended in the Rajya Sabha, a total of 13 opposition MPs, including nine from the Congress and DMK’s Kanimozhi in the Lok Sabha, faced similar action.

The government on its part asserted that a high-level inquiry has been initiated into the incident and asked the opposition not to politicise the issue.

In a statement soon after the Lok Sabha reassembled at 2 PM, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said “we all agree” that the unfortunate incident was a serious one concerning the safety and security of MPs.

Outside Parliament, Joshi said the ongoing probe will bring out all the details after the opposition demanded action against BJP MP Prathap Simha for facilitating the entry passes for two persons who jumped into the chamber.

Joshi, however, noted that such passes are facilitated by MPs often on “goodwill”.

Sources said Simha, an MP from Mysuru, has also put across his defence to Joshi, saying he knew the father of Manoranjan. His father would visit the MP’s local office, they added.

Stringent measures were put in place in and around the Parliament building with its security personnel and police thoroughly checking the credentials of those entering the complex.

Influenced by revolutionary Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Lalit, a resident of Kolkata and teacher by profession, and the other five accused were highly motivated to commit an act which could draw the country’s attention, police sources said.

The sources said all six joined a Bhagat Singh fan page on Facebook after coming in touch with each other on social media.

The sources claimed that during interrogation, Amol told investigators they were upset with issues like the farmers’ protest, ethnic conflict in Manipur and unemployment and that was why they carried out the act.

“They had the same ideology and hence decided to give a message to the government,” the sources said.

The suspended security personnel, who were on deputation for Parliament security and tasked with frisking visitors and mediapersons, were identified by the police as Rampal, Arvind, Vir Das, Ganesh, Anil, Pradeep, Vimitt and Narendra.

Leaders of various opposition parties demanded that Home Minister Amit Shah make a statement on the security breach followed by a discussion on the matter in both houses.

This was decided at a meeting of opposition leaders held in the chamber of Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge.

The government, however, appeared disinclined to accept the demand, saying the Lok Sabha Speaker is the guardian of the House and it will follow his directives.

Minister Joshi told reporters that the government does not have the authority to issue a statement on this issue as it is the Speaker who will take a call on the matter.

Speaker Birla had earlier asserted in the lower house that the security of the Parliament complex is the responsibility of the Lok Sabha Secretariat.

PTI

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