Delhi Police Special Cell Busted Major Terror Networks, Averted Terror Attacks, Countered Narco Terrorism

Spearheading their ongoing operations against terrorism the Special Cell of Delhi Police received path breaking success in important arrests of terrorists and countering narco terrorism.

The Special Cell in their annual report mentioned that Delhi has been safe from any terror incident 2012 and that shows the counter terror structures and multi prolonged strategy adopted by the investigation agencies. However, Delhi, the national capital has always been the target of highest value for various terror organizations over the last four decades.

Special Commissioner (Special Cell), Neeraj Thakur stated that the Special Cell with the assistance of other police departments successfully choked various terror plans and terror pre cursor activities.

The Delhi Police in a joint operation with Uttarakhand Police, arrested four terrorists of ISIS were and an impending terror strike at the ‘Ardh Kumbh’ festival in Haridwar, Uttarakhand was foiled. This was the nationwide first bust of an active IS module

In a joint operation with NIA, Kerala Police and Telangana Police, six terrorists of ISIS were arrested and an impending terrorist strike, targetted killing of RSS/BJP leaders in Tamil Nadu and Kerala was timely averted.

In another joint operation with Assam Police, a terror module of ISIS was busted in the area of Goalpara with the arrests of three terrorists and a ready-for-detonation IED was recovered just in time before it could be used in the upcoming Raas-Mela Dudhnoi festival. Further, components for IEDs, to be used by this module in Delhi, were also recovered.

The Delhi Police and J&K Police arrested three terrorists of IS-J&K from Kashmir while they were planning to throw a grenade at a police party. A whole module of IS-J&K was busted with arrests of six OGWs and recovery of more grenades and ammunition.

The officials stated in the report that the same sharp-shooters had committed the sensational murder of Shaurya Chakra recipient Balwinder Singh Sandhu in Punjab. Investigations revealed that the ISI, through its K2 desk, has been funding the targeted killings of right-wing leaders and opponents of terrorism through the spoils of drug trafficking.

The officials further said that the Hizbul Mujahidin cadres push narcotics from PoK to Kashmir and down to Punjab for distribution and the sale proceeds are being used to fund anti-national activities. With sustained efforts, Sukhmeet Pal Singh was deported from abroad and arrested, causing serious damage to the operational capabilities of Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF) and Khalistan Zindabad Force (KZF) who were using his ‘guns on hire’.

The Delhi Police recently received a major with the arrests of sharp-shooters owing allegiance to gangster Sukhmeet Pal Singh alias Sukh Bhikhariwal when the nexus of ISI-Khalistan radicals and narco-terrorism was exposed and a number of targeted killings in by extending its watch on over-ground workers (OGWs), suspect front organizations, money launderers, crypto-currency dealers etc. in close coordination with agencies like the NIA, ED, FIU and others.

When terror cadres and sleeper cells are one part of counter terrorism, another aspect of terrorism are highly dangerous modules of narcotics smugglers, arms-peddlers and FICN (fake Indian currency notes) manufacturers and suppliers.

The report stated the accused had clear imprints of support from hostile neighbours that have been busted.

In the year 2020 alone, Special Cell seized 549 illicit pistols, rifles and 1505 cartridges along with 147 arrests of gun-runners. A total of 73.3 kg heroin, 31.6 Kg opium (charas) and 233 kg synthetic drugs were seized along with arrests of 33 drug smugglers. Also, FICN with face value Rs. 7.8 lakhs was seized and eight manufacturers or peddlers were arrested

Elaborating more on the importance of technology, the officials stated that operationalization of CyPAD and creation of a totally new Counter Intelligence Unit within the Special Cell that is nurturing a core of technologically competent police officers to take on the mantle of technological interventions is aiding the special cell by manifold. The officers have attended advanced training in foreign countries and also expert level courses at IIT Kanpur, SETS, Chennai and other places. Also, training in coding and computer languages has been introduced for the first time in collaboration with renowned service providers. ‘Cyber active defence’ has become the forte of Delhi Police’s anti-terror strategy and yielded significant results over the past few years. 

The officials have highlighted some cyber defence operations in the report.

In one such operation named ‘Islamic State’, a cyber-active defense operation, a lone wolf operation of IS was averted when one code-name identity Yusuf Khan, who had prepared several IEDs, including suicide vests and belts, was arrested after an exchange of fire. Two pressure cooker IEDs were recovered which were to be exploded in Delhi.

In another operation of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), three terrorists of JeM were arrested. Fourteen other members of the module were also detained who subsequently underwent de-radicalization and were successfully reintegrated into society.

Speaking about joint operations with central intelligence agencies, the officials said that the intelligence and analytical outreach of Delhi Police was extended to various offshore operations. This has also initiated close coordination with NATGRID in the development of this platform of national importance in fighting terror.

Delhi Police is also an active member of CyCORD and I-4C of Ministry of Home Affairs and is represented in the apex body constituted under FATF to curb terror financing. The MAC at MHA, which epitomizes inter-agency coordination on the anti-terror front, has seen participation by Delhi Police in a highly professional manner with daily sharing of collated intelligence and sustained follow-up on inputs, the officials stated.

Accordingly, in 2015, the then leadership of Special Cell created an All-India Terror Suspects (AITS) database. This includes details of all the entities which had figured in various interrogations of terror accused over the previous years, especially those who could not be traced due to lack of specific details. This extensive task resulted in busting of the first ever module of the AQIS in 2016 – one of the accused arrested in the case was found to have been a terrorist involved with dreaded HuM whose name had cropped up as far back as in 2001. Since then, the AITS has been revised on several occasions and as of now, serves as a master database to seek clues whenever a suspect module surfaces.

In another significant follow-up after the adoption of AITS, three convicted terrorists of JeM, who were absconding after being convicted in a terror case by the Delhi High Court were arrested in separate operations from the Kashmir Valley.

The officials further said that till 2012, anti-terror prosecutions were in a state of disarray with no designated court for UAPA being in place in Delhi. This resulted in the absence of dedicated and designated judges and prosecutors who could adjudicate and present the police cases pertaining to terrorism. This was taken up with the concerned authorities and a designated court for trial of offences registered under the UAPA was established. The preceding five years witnessed quick culmination of trials and higher rates of conviction. 

Mentioning some notable convictions in terror cases of Gauhar Aziz Khomani, Abdur Rahman, Mohd. Irshad Khan, Bashir Hasan alias Talha, Asadullah Rehman alais Dilkash, Mohd. Shakeel, Kamaal alias Bilal, Mohd Kafil Akhtar and Fasih Mehmood, the report highlighted the success of the investigations. Some of these convicted terrorists are also facing trials in the German Bakery bomb blast case of 2010 and Chinnaswami Stadium blasts of 2010 separately, the report stated.

The officials added that in a bid to improve its standards of investigation, has recently engaged lawyers to assist in investigations.

With the advent of the CWG in 2010, the Delhi Police ‘Special Weapons And Tactics’ Unit (SWAT) came into being within the Special Cell. Over the years, SWAT has grown from strength to strength and from an initial number of 90, it is now an elite unit of about 300 highly trained commandos with a special all-women component. The SWAT of Delhi Police is trained at NSG in urban warfare and various types of interventions. It takes part in mock drills conducted by anti-terror forces and special units of the Central Government and is also utilized in complex, risk prone anti-terror operations. The 

SWAT presently operates out of four bases and is under a process of comprehensive capacity up-gradation along the lines suggested by NSG, duly approved by MHA. This will include adding BDS, K-9 and paramedical components to the commando unit to become self-reliant in undertaking all kinds of anti-terror operations.

To strengthen its eyes and years, ‘Counter Terror Staff Scheme’ has been implemented whereby the Special Cell has been provided extensions across selected police stations by identifying beat level staff who routinely collect intelligence from their localities which are filtered and discussed with their designated counterparts in the Special Cell for appropriate action.

The officials mentioned that Delhi will face domestic and foreign challenges on the terror front. The rising incidents of online radicalization along with increasing use of the dark-web for accessing extremist content will require newer methodologies to prevent the abuse of cyber-space for anti-national purposes. Cross-border cyber and physical espionage by accessing personal data through mobile phone applications and the use of opinion makers and business channels for espionage operations is also a challenge for police.

Mentioning about the arrival of LeT and IM in the country, the report stated that 2000 to 2011 saw Kashmir valley-based terror traveling to Delhi, epitomized by the Red Fort (2000) and Parliament Attacks (2001). In the following years of the decade, a total of 30 militants, including 22 Pakistani/PoK residents/Bangladeshis, who regularly kept landing in Delhi to commit acts of terror, were neutralized in various operations by Special Cell. The decade also saw brutal Delhi Bombings of 2005 (62 killed and 210 injured) and 2008 (30 killed and135 injured).

These acts of terror were the handiwork of Lashkar-e-Taiyyaba (LeT) and the till-then unknown Indian Mujahidin (IM). With the Batla House shootout, the arrival of IM on the national terror-stage was confirmed. This shootout took place within a week of the 2008 bombings and saw the martyrdom of a highly decorated anti-terror police officer of Delhi Police. However, in the years that followedi.e.2008 to the end of 2011, agencies kept chasing shadows of IM but a breakthrough eluded all efforts.

In 2011, an arms and ammunition factory clandestinely established by IM was unearthed in Nangloi, Delhi. This was followed up with arrests of several cadres. However, the top leadership remained out of reach and managed to strike back with the Delhi High Court bombings of 2012.

This served as a wakeup call and post 2013, the Special Cell adopted a new anti-terror doctrine to tackle the terror threat. This soon resulted in concerted action across the country, which eventually broke the back of the Indian Mujahidin.

Special Cell busted the Darbhanga, Pune, Sitapur and Jaipur modules. Dreaded terrorists, Zia-ur-Rehman alias Waqas (Pakistani), Tehseen alias Monu and Aizaz Sheikh (all sentenced to capital punishment for Hyderabad bombings) were arrested (2014). Later, the ghost ideologue Abdul Subhan Quraishi alias Taukeer was also arrested (2018). Chiefs of the outfit – Riyaz & Iqbal Bhatkal fled India and found shelter in Pakistan.

Sayed Abdul Kareem alias Tunda, one of ‘Top 10 Most Wanted from Pakistan’, was arrested (2013). This came on the back of the arrest of Sayed Zabiuddin alias Abu Jundal, the lone Indian handler of 26/11 Mumbai Terror Attacks, by Special Cell.

The close relationship between Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the AQIS, Al-Qaeda’s Indian branch, was exposed when the first Indian module of AQIS was busted in 2015 and for the first time, the real identity of Maulana Asim Umar (Chief of AQIS – anointed by Ayaman Al Zawahiri) was revealed as being Sana-ul Haque of Sambhal IN UP.

The bust led to the arrest of Zaffar Masood, a veteran of Harkat Ul Mujahidin (HuM), trained in Afghanistan, who was first noticed in the year 2001, as the local financier of AQIS. More significantly, the arrest of Abdul Rehman Qasmi established that the Pakistan International Airlines was being used by ISI for facilitating unmarked stopovers of Indian terror operatives in Karachi while taking Delhi-Kathmandu-UAE flights.

In its initial years, the Islamic State (IS) evoked some response in different parts of the country leading to mushrooming of IS modules in several states. Delhi Police carried out anti-terror operations at locations situated in States as far as Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Manipur, West Bengal, Assam and in UP, Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir.


2016        16

2017        11

2018        08

2019        05

2020        32

(Source: Special Cell Report) 



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