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Delhi anti-Hindu Riots now has a clear ISIS link: Arrested terrorist Arshad Warsi, links to Sharjeel Imam and Mahmood Pracha’s attack against public prosecutor

It is evident that there are several tentacles of ISIS in the Delhi anti-Hindu riots case - now, with the arrest of ISIS terrorist Arshad Warsi and the attack by Pracha on the SPP, it becomes imperative that the Delhi Police and NIA investigate the terror angle and the extent of ISIS' involvement in the 2020 violence that left several Hindus dead.

The Delhi anti-Hindu riots which lasted from the 23rd of February 2020 to the 26th of February 2020 was perhaps one of the first cases of communal strife where the various interlinks between Pakistan, Indian Islamic terror organisations like PFI, Muslim and Leftist “activists” and so much more was established in clear terms. What was also established is the role of Indian and global media in changing the narrative from ‘what is’ to ‘what they want it to be’. We saw how craftily the truth was obfuscated to turn clearly planned and organised violence against Hindus into an ‘anti-Muslim pogrom’. While the conspiracy chargesheet filed by the Delhi Police provided ample evidence about how the anti-Hindu violence was planned and executed, more information is now emerging that gives another dimension to the violence and its genesis – the ISIS angle.

On 3rd October, NIA arrested three Jihadis connected to the ISIS Pune terror module. They were planning terror attacks against India. The prime accused – Shahanawaz, had a bounty of Rs 3 lakh on his head. According to the Delhi Police, the module planned to carry out terror attacks across India through instructions from foreign-based handlers. Shahnawaz alias Shafi Uzzama was arrested by the Delhi Police special cell from a hideout in the national capital.

The NIA has also recovered chemical substances from Shahnawaz and other incriminating material suspected to be used for IED fabrication. The NIA had announced a cash reward of Rs 3 lakh each for information about Shahnawaz and three other terror suspects namely Rizwan Abdul, Haji Ali, Abdulla Faiyaz Shaikh alias Diaperwala, and Talha Liyakat Khan. Reportedly, Shahnawaz, Abdulla, and Rizwan were radicalised into joining the ISIS mission over the Telegram app and planned to engineer violence and terror in the country.

Police said the accused are Shahnawaz Alam (31), a resident of Hazaribagh in Jharkhand; Mohammad Rizwan Ashraf (28) from Lucknow; and Mohammad Arshad Warsi from Garhwa district in Jharkhand. The latter was presently residing in Delhi’s Jamia Nagar. While Rizwan Ashraf was arrested from Lucknow, Shahnawaz was arrested from Jaitpur and Warsi from Moradabad. Iron pipes, chemicals, time devices, and pistol cartridges, among other items used to make explosives, were recovered from Shahnawaz’s possession.

Most interestingly, the authorities have released that Pakistan ISI and ISIS were handling the activities of the three terrorists now arrested. The police said that the three terrorists had sworn allegiance to ISIS and their Pakistani ISI handlers also had connections to ISIS. They added that ISIS operated from the background to ensure that they did not come to the notice of international agencies and law enforcement organisations.

These terrorists were heavily religiously indoctrinated and had tried to set up their base in Western and Southern India, where they had significant reach. Further, they had carried out test blasts and most importantly, they had arranged for local procurement of weapons so the suspicion would not fall on ISI or ISIS. “All three had a scientific bent of mind which helped them test bombs in forest areas to ensure success during final execution,” said the police. The three – including Arshad Warsi, were aiming to plant IEDs to ensure maximum damage and target important people. To this end, they also conducted extensive surveillance of the daily routines and routes of important targets.

Shahnawaz, who is the prime accused in this case, had come to Delhi in the year 2016. The police said that he would go to Shaheen Bagh and listen to speeches by the Radical Islamic group Hizb-ut-Tahrir. It was during his time in Shaheen Bagh that he swore allegiance to ISIS. Shahanawaz met Rizwan during this time and they became friends. Both of them were influenced by ISIS at this time. Interestingly, Arshad Warsi also came to Delhi in 2016 after completing his B-Tech from Aligarh Muslim University. He had crossed paths with Shahnawaz and become friends while they were attending one of the programs together. It is not clear what the program was, but since Warsi was settled in Jamia Nagar, one could possibly conclude that they met during the radical Islamic programs in Shaheen Bagh too.

It was Mohammad Arshad Warsi who facilitated the sheltering of Shahnavaz, a most-wanted terrorist with a reward of 3 lakh rupees on his head. Warsi was also involved in plotting terrorist attacks. Following the information revealed in the interrogation of Mohammad Arshad Warsi, the Delhi Police Special Cell managed to locate and arrest Shahnavaz.

For the purpose of this report, following are the operative parts that we need to keep in mind:

  1. Arshad Warsi came to Delhi in 2016 and started staying at Jamia Nagar.
  2. It was in 2016 that Shahnawaz came to Delhi and started attending radical Islamic programs in Shaheen Bagh.
  3. Warsi met Shahnawaz in 2016 and they were already connected to ISIS in 2016.
  4. They were planning IED attacks, to target high value targets and had even conducted surveillance of these targets.
  5. They had Pakistani ISI handlers.
  6. The handlers were also in touch with ISIS.
  7. Shahnawaz was himself in touch with international ISIS contacts.
  8. By extension, one can assume that Warsi was also in touch with ISIS contacts.
  9. Even after NIA had announced a reward for Shahnawaz, Arshad Warsi had sheltered him, saving him from the police.
  10. It was Arshad Warsi, after whose interrogation, Shahnawaz was arrested.

After the arrest and the revelations by Delhi Police Special Cell, it is evident that Arshad Warsi was an ISIS terrorist planning IED attacks in India along with the mastermind Shahnawaz, who he met in 2016.

Arshad Warsi – who he is and his connection to Delhi anti-Hindu riots

Hailing from Jharkhand, Mohammad Arshad Warsi holds a BTech degree from Aligarh Muslim University and is presently enrolled in a PhD program at Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI), where he specialises in ‘Islamic Principles in Management’. 

Arshad Warsi, who is now arrested for being an ISIS terrorist and planning bomb blasts in Delhi along with other ISIS terrorists, was intricately involved in the Delhi anti-Hindu riots as well. In fact, Arshad Warsi along with Sharjeel Imam planted the seed of the violence which culminated in the Delhi anti-Hindu riots in 2020.

In the 2700-page chargesheet filed pertaining to FIR 59/2020, the Delhi Police dedicate almost 700 pages to the chronology of the conspiracy hatched for the Delhi anti-Hindu riots in 2020. In fact, the chargesheet displayed evidence that the conspiracy started right from the 5th of December 2019. It is in these crucial stages of planning that Arshad Warsi features along with Sharjeel Imam.

According to the chargesheet filed by the Delhi Police, after CAB was tabled in both houses of the parliament on the 4th of December, on the 5th of December a group called Muslim Students of JNU (MSJ) was formed by Sharjeel Imam who was the main member of the group and its creation was also his brainchild. 

The chats that have been procured by the Delhi police after a perusal of the phones confiscated from Sharjeel and other accused, it was revealed that Sharjeel Imam and Arshad Warsi (student of Jamia) were in constant touch and Sharjeel was also in touch with “radical communal group” Students of Jamia (SOJ). 

On the 6th of December, pamphlets which were written by Sharjeel Imam himself were distributed in the Jama Masjid area by the MSJ group. This fact was revealed by the chats recovered between Sharjeel Imam and Arshad Warsi. The pamphlets were communal in nature and essentially aimed to incite hate in the Muslim community by invoking the Supreme Court decision in the Ram Janmabhoomi case. 

Some of the pamphlets read “Law of Allah above all else” and “The command of Allah is above every law”.

A sample of the conversation between Sharjeel Imam and Arshad Warsi on the 7th of December (produced verbatim from the screenshot of the WhatsApp conversation attached in the chargesheet): 

Arshad: Hamne bhi babri ke hawale se kuch distribution kiye the. So wahin malum chala

Sharjeel: Parcha humne likha tha 

Arshad: Alhamdulillah

Arshad: Sahi hai 

Sharjeel: Aur 8000 copies baate aaj masajid main 

Arshad: Mashallah. May Allah reward you all.

The chats from that time reveal far more – most importantly – that Sharjeel Imam was already planning violence and Arshad Warsi, the ISIS terrorist was working closely with him and was his close confidante.

On the 7th of December, Sharjeel Imam said that he would be joining the protests called by United Against Hate. This fact was revealed by his WhatsApp conversation with Arshad Warsi. While joining a protest is not wrong in itself, here is the clincher – on the 7th of December, Sharjeel Imam categorically said that he was planning something big in the next week and for that purpose, he would mobilise students from DU, AMU etc with the help of MSJ members. 

Subsequently, Arshad Wars put up the minutes of the meeting that was held at the Tefla Dhaba between the core committee members of the MSJ group. The aim of the meeting was rather simple – to make the UAH rally a resounding success and also, to ensure that both Muslim and non-Muslim students turn up at the protest. 

The aim of getting Muslim and non-Muslim students both was rather evident and is a recurring theme in the chargesheet – to ensure that the veil of secularism was maintained and it would not seem like only Muslims were protesting against the Bill. In fact, the farce of the exercise is evident since in one of the chats, it was said by the two that the aim of the MSJ was to ensure that Muslim students who wanted to coordinate and protest could come together and they did not want to be seen competing with other Muslim organisations like SIO. 

It is important to note that it was the following week that the Jamia riots took place and violence broke out in several parts of Delhi and even Uttar Pradesh. 

The violence began on the 15th of December when Muslim mobs rampaged through the national capital. Amanatullah Khan, a prominent MLA of the Aam Aadmi Party, and Delhi’s Sunni Waqf Board chief was spotted leading the riots in Jamia Nagar. Chants of ‘Hinduon se Azadi’ were raised in the same area that very day. Buses were also set on fire during those violent protests. On the same night, the Delhi Police cracked down on the Jamia Milia Islamia University and entered the campus to flush out the miscreants.

Two days later, massive riots broke out in Seelampur. Delhi turned into a war zone. A school bus was attacked and set on fire as well. The mob taunted the policemen to run after them following which stones were pelted.

Interestingly, on the 8th of December, an underground meeting had taken place where Sharjeel Imam, Yogendra Yadav and others were present.

It was in this meeting, that according to the chargesheet, a plan was hatched on how to implement the Chakka Jam. It was decided that it would be Sharjeel Imam who would organise and lead students from various universities and colleges in and around Delhi. It was, interestingly, also decided that organisations like United Against Hate and Swarajya Abhiyaan would help each other in every way possible. This has, according to the Chargehsheet, been revealed by a witness. 

The fact that this meeting took place was also confirmed by the chats that were discovered between Sharjeel Imam and Arshad Warsi. 

On the same day, a WhatsApp group was formed called the ‘CAB TEAM’. The core members of the team were following: 

  1. Yogendra Yadav 
  2. Umar Khalid 
  3. Sharjeel Imam 
  4. Nadeem Khan 
  5. Parvej Alam etc.

Thereafter, there was a spate of violence almost on a daily basis leading right up to the Delhi anti-Hindu riots 2020.

The 13th of December marked the first incident of violence in Delhi after Islamists and Leftists had gotten together in the name of their protest against CAA. 

On the 13th of December, the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act took a communal turn in Delhi after ‘students’ of the controversial Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) University resorted to mob violence against the police officials and shouted Islamic slogans “Allah-o-Akbar” during their protests. The video had even surfaced where Jamia Millia Islamia University students can be seen raising ‘Allaho Akbar’ and ‘Nara-e-Taqbeer’ slogans. They are also heard saying, “Ye shahar zagmagaega, nur-e-la-illaha se, Ye desh zagmagaega, nur-e-la-ilaha se.Nara-e-takbir, Allahu Akbar”. The ‘students’ of the Jamia Millia Islamia University in Delhi were also seen abusing police with provocative words as they used tear gas to disperse the violent mob.

In another video that was shared by one of the radical Islamic groups called Tehzeeb Committee of Jamia Millia Islamia College, a ‘student’ can be seen making communal and provocative statements by claiming that ‘those who want to protect Muslims will have to protect Islam’. There were also several provocative statements that demanded Muslims to take to the streets. The “speech” was followed by a worrying slogan, “tera mera rishta kya, La ilahi illilah”. Similar statements were heard in Kashmir with respect to Pakistan by terrorists where they chanted “Pakistan se rishta kya, La ilahi illilah”.

As the police began to lathi-charge the students to calm down the situation, the protestors resorted to stone-pelting against these police officials. 

According to the chargesheet, in this incident, 20 policemen were injured. The chargesheet says that this incident of violence was a direct result of the conspiracy being hatched since earlier in December and Sharjeel Imam, Asif Iqbal Tanha and others were directly involved. They also believe that Sharjeel’s spectacles were broken during the violence.

On the day that the Delhi Riots started – 23rd February 2020 – Students of Jamia group – the radical Jihadi group that Sharjeel Imam and Arshad Warsi were earlier coordinating with posted this on Facebook:

On 25th February, after several Hindus had been murdered brutally by Jihadis and the Delhi anti-Hindu riots were raging, Students of Jamia posted this:

There is ample evidence mentioned in the chargesheets to prove that the planning of the Delhi anti-Hindu riots started right from 5th December 2019. The people who were intricately involved have also been mentioned. It is now evident that one of the main masterminds Sharjeel Imam was working closely with an ISIS terrorist. That ISIS terrorist and Sharjeel Imam were constantly in touch with radical groups like Students of Jamia, who clearly were inciting further violence and were also actively involved in the Delhi Riots. They were also involved in the propaganda that erupted after the anti-Hindu riots, blaming Hindus instead of the Islamists.

Right after the violence, Students of Jamia group were busy blaming Hindus for the violence that they themselves perpetuated along with other Jihadis, including an ISIS terrorist.

While the chargesheets were being reported and even during the investigation into the Delhi anti-Hindu riots, Arshad Warsi seemed like a smaller player whose role was limited to coordination with Jamia radicals and Sharjeel Imam. However, with the latest revelations, it is evident that Arshad Warsi was an ISIS terrorist who was involved in planning and coordinating the violence from the beginning.

Further, the latest revelations also pose an important question – if someone who seemed as innocuous as Arshad Warsi turned out to be a hardened ISIS terrorist planning a bomb attack, who else involved in the Delhi anti-Hindu riots has links to ISIS and Pakistan’s ISI? This element gives an entirely new dimension to the Delhi anti-Hindu riots since so far, the active role of ISIS in planning and executing the riots had not been revealed to such an extent. There have always been suspicions that jihadi elements like ISIS and ISI could be involved in some manner or the other, but, these suspicions were essentially limited to private discussions. This is perhaps the first link of the Delhi anti-Hindu riots with ISIS and it is imperative that the link be investigated thoroughly. In fact, logic dictates that since Arshad Warsi was so close to Sharjeel Imam, it is entirely possible that Imam knew about Warsi’s ISIS connection and had used it to plan the violence – a link that can possibly be revealed through investigation on how deep the ISIS link was in the Delhi anti-Hindu riots.

Not just Arshad Warsi – another ISIS link has emerged

Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) Amit Prasad, who is representing the Delhi Police in the case of the larger conspiracy in Delhi anti-Hindu riots, has come under attack in court by a lawyer who is an ISIS poster boy – Mahmood Pracha.

Mahmood Pracha, representing another accused in the Delhi anti-Hindu riots, levelled personal allegations against the SPP Amit Prasad. In his application to the court, Pracha claimed that he had a personal investigation conducted and in that, it was revealed that Amit Prasad had taken money in cash from the Delhi Police in an underhand manner.

Prasad contended that if this allegation was found to be correct, he was “not fit to continue as the SPP” in the present case. He also submitted that Pracha should place the material on record to substantiate his “false and grave allegations”, along with the affidavit of the private investigator.

The SPP further contended that Pracha had put a “question mark on his integrity” and the “prosecution cannot be browbeaten like this”. Prasad also contended that under the law, Pracha cannot represent Tasleem Ahmed as he himself was named in the statement of one witness. “Despite no objection by the accused to be represented by Sh. Mehmood Pracha, there is still a conflict of interest and violation of Bar Council Rules”, he contended.

The SPP had also contented that Mahmood Pracha has a conflict of interest and should not be allowed to represent the accused. The court remarked, “Accused submits that he wants to continue with Mr. Mehmood Pracha. Ld. Proxy Counsel for the accused, on instructions, submits that they do not wish to state anything about the submissions and court may pass any order”.

Interestingly, it was after SPP had demanded evidence from Pracha to back is grave allegations of corruption against him, did the counsel for the accused said in the court that they did not wish to make further submissions and that the court may pass any order.

It would, therefore, appear that Pracha had no evidence to claim that Prasad (SPP) had done any underhand dealing with the Delhi Police but had simply mentioned this in a court application to not only derail the investigation but also ensure that the larger conspiracy case investigation is thrown off its course with the SPP out of the way.

During the course of the hearing, SPP pointed out that even under the law Mehmood Pracha, Ld. Counsel for the accused cannot represent an accused in this case as he himself has been named in the statement of one witness namely ‘SMITH’ and there is a conflict of interest. He further submitted that despite no objection by the accused to be represented by Mehmood Pracha, there is still a conflict of interest and violation of Bar Council Rules.

Essentially, the SPP had pointed out that Mahmood Pracha has himself been named in the Delhi anti-Hindu Riots case by a witness “SMITH” and since he himself has been named, he can’t represent an accused in the Delhi Riots because that amounts to conflict of interest.

On page number 1927 of the 59/20 chargesheet, where the witness statements are listed, the statement of protected witness SMITH is mentioned clearly. He was interrogated on the 2nd of September 2020.

Protected Witness SMITH had said that the CAA/NRC act was passed by the government and thereafter, dharna pradarshan started. Dharna also started near his house (66 Foota Road). He used to remain there from 9.00 pm to 12.00 am. In his presence Umar Khalid and Mehmood Pracha gave speeches. Gulfisha, who was living in Jafrabad, was organizing the protest. She used to instigate local women of Seelampur­/Jafrabad to come outside. They used to tell people if they would not have documents with them then they along with their families would be sent to detention centers. On the night of 15.01.2020, Devangana, Natasha, Sohail and Shadab along with other girls and 100­-150 women carried out Dharna at Old Bus Stand, Madina Masjid. Yameen’s house at E­1/13 was their office where their meeting used to happen.

On 23.01.2020, Umar Khalid gave a speech. Thereafter, Gulfisha, Devengana and Natasha brought Umar Khalid to their office. He also followed them and saw that Gulfisha, Natasha, Devengana, Sohail and Shadab along with other girls were also sitting there. Umar Khalid was saying that in the protest against CAA/NRC and to bring the Indian government down, they are ready even if riots occurred in Delhi; we have collected arms upon which all the persons stated that they are ready. Their motive was quite dangerous and he got scared after hearing this and came out from there. After two or three days, Gulfisha, Devangana, and Natasha were asking ladies to collect empty glass bottles, acid, patthar, chhuri, etc.

On 23.02.2020, he saw that Gulfisha, Devengana and Natasha along with many other women had blocked the road at Jafrabad Metro Station and they were asking to attack the police officials. After some time, Wazirabad, Ghaziabad and Seelampur Road, were all jammed and movement stopped. Local ladies pelted stones on people who were struck there due to which Hindu­Muslims riots started. Riots also started across Yamuna between Hindu­ and Muslims resulting in the killing of innocent people. They are very dangerous people and his name may be kept secret.

Protected Witness SMITH categorically mentioned that Advocate Mahmood Pracha was present with Umar Khalid on a regular basis when Muslims were being incited to go on a rampage. He was also the one giving speeches along with Umar Khalid, who is now in jail under UAPA charges connected to the Delhi Riots case.

It is pertinent to note that Umar Khalid and Sharjeel Imam were inextricably linked and according to the chargesheet, worked closely to orchestrate the violence. It was Sharjeel Imam who was in touch with Arshad Warsi – the ISIS terrorist.

Another ISIS angle that emerges from the testimony of SMITH is that Mahmood Pracha, who according to the witness was present with Umar Khalid and making speeches to incite Muslims, was also on the cover page of ISIS magazine – which they had launched in India after the Delhi violence.

was featured as the poster boy for a pro-ISIS media outlet and is accused of spreading communal hatred in the past.

As India went through communal turmoil during the anti-Hindu riots, a publication titled ‘Voice of Hind’ issued by Al-Qitaal Media Center and Junudul Khilafah al-Hind featured Mahmood Pracha on its cover page. The cover was titled “So, Muslims, where are you going?”. It was featured with the subtitle “A Call to the Muslims of India”. The magazine had praised slain terrorists in Kashmir. It also urged the Muslims to reject the idea of an Indian nation-state and fight for the ‘caliphate’ instead. It had claimed that Islam rejected the idea of nationalism.

One has to recall that similar messages about rejecting nationalism and secularism were made in the pamphlets that were made and distributed by Sharjeel Imam and Arshad Warsi.

The lawyer who was on the cover page of the first India-centric ISIS magazine and was named by witness SMITH as a part of the build-up to Delhi anti-Hindu riots is now representing an accused in the Delhi Riots. With the SPP pointing this out and demanding that the conflict of interest be resolved, Pracha resorted to raising unsubstantiated allegations against the SPP trying the larger conspiracy case – the case in which the witness statement against Pracha has been mentioned.

It is evident that there are several tentacles of ISIS in the Delhi anti-Hindu riots case – now, with the arrest of ISIS terrorist Arshad Warsi and the attack by Pracha on the SPP, it becomes imperative that the Delhi Police and NIA investigate the terror angle and the extent of ISIS’ involvement in the 2020 violence that left several Hindus dead.

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