Mumbai/Agartala, May 17: In a huge embarrassment to India, a terror accused whose name figured in the list of 50 most wanted fugitives given to Pakistan has been found to be living in a suburb of Mumbai, prompting the government to order a probe into the goof up.
Wazhul Kamar Khan, who was one of those whose name figures in the list of fugitives sought by India from Pakistan, has been found staying in Thane, neighbouring Mumbai.
Khan, who was arrested last year for his alleged role in the 2003 Mulund train blasts here, has been living in Thane's Waghle Estate with his mother, wife and children, after he was let out on bail, police sources said.
Home Minister P Chidambaram sought to play down the goof up saying a big issue should not be made out of one wrong name.
"I did not prepare the list", said Chidambaram.
One name in the high-profile '50 most wanted' list of fugitives submitted to Pakistan, Wazhul Kamar Khan, is actually living in Wagle Estate in Thane with his ailing mother, a wife and five children.
Khan, whose name appears on the list as Khan Wazhul Kamar, is currently out on bail and claims to be regularly presenting himself in court as per his bail conditions. He is an accused in the 2003 Mulund train blast case. The blast had killed 11 people, including four women and two police constables, and injured 82 people.
Times of India reporter met Khan at his residence in Thane on Sunday, May 15, at around 4pm. Last year, Khan was arrested and booked in five cases. These were the Mulund, Vile Parle, Ghatkopar-II and Mumbai Central blast cases, which have been clubbed together in the Pota court, and an Arms Act case. He was granted bail in three months in all the cases.
When asked about Khan and his name ending up on the list of fugitives, a senior police officer said, "He was arrested in the blast cases last year and is currently out on bail."
Khan claimed he has never gone to Pakistan. He hid in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh for about a year from 2003 to 2004, he said. He later started a zari business in Dharavi, the country's biggest slum in Mumbai. An Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) team finally arrested him on May 10, 2010 in Kurla and booked him under the Arms Act for carrying a firearm.
Apart from the Mulund blast, police had said that Khan was also involved in the Parle, Mumbai Central and Ghatkopar blasts of 2002 and 2003. Over 120 were injured and 16 killed in the four terror attacks. After getting bail, Khan was released from Arthur Road jail on August 18, 2010.
"Since my release, I have been focusing on establishing my zari business. I was hiding for years in Dharavi and continued my zari business from there," Khan told TOI.
He said, "After the blasts I came to know through television news that the police had described me as one of the wanted. Scared, I fled to my relatives' place in UP and returned to Mumbai a year later." He added, "I am very much here and attend the court hearings regularly. So how can you say that I am hiding in Pakistan?"
Khan, who is now 44, said he was born in Kurla and studied there. In 1998, he shifted to Wagle Estate. He is the 17th accused to be arrested in the Mulund train blast case.
The most-wanted list was originally shared with Pakistan during the home secretary-level talks between the two countries on March 28 and 29, 2011. Nineteen names on the list are members of the Dawood Ibrahim gang.
Khan told TOI that he had once visited Padga, Maharashtra, where people were being trained in operating firearms. "I had visited that place near Bhiwandi. Because of that the police booked me under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and I had to live a fugitive's life for almost seven years," said Khan, a Class X dropout.
Khan lives in a 10-by-10 sq ft room with his family. "I did have a passport, but it was misplaced during the tamasha (period he was absconding)," added Khan. His two daughters have studied in English-medium schools and are now preparing for higher studies. "I want my children to focus on studies and am doing everything possible for their future," added Khan. "My father passed away while I was absconding, but I managed to attend his funeral. I don't want this to affect my business and I'm trying to get discharged from these cases," he said.
“I am here in Thane since years and how come they included my name in the most wanted list that was sent to Pakistan. I was told to meet police officials today,” 44-year-old Khan told PTI.
Khan, who is into zari business, had a passport which he lost sometime back and has never been to Pakistan, he claimed.
“I am innocent in all the cases. I had no role to play in the Mulund or any other blasts. I was falsely implicated, I have been regularly attending court proceedings and I am sure that I will prove my innocence in the court,” Khan said.
He said he had gone to Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh for a few years after being implicated in the blasts cases.
“When I returned, I started a zari manufacturing unit in Mumbai's Dharavi area. By showing me as one of the 50 most wanted accused, the police are making my life hell,” he said.
Khan's wife Ayesha said they have been living in Mumbai from the past 12 years. “We belong to UP and have been living in the city for many years,” she said.
His cousin Tajuddin Choudhary wondered, “How come security agencies included my brother's name in the list when he has been here since years doing zari business. It is a blunder on the part of security agencies. Khan is the only breadwinner of his family.”
City Deputy Police Commissioner (Operations), Rajkumar Vhatkar refused to comment on the goof-up. PTI