On April 3, in Bijnor district of Uttar Pradesh, two motorcycle-borne men shot dead National Investigation Agency officer Mohammad Tanzil Ahmed. Though a terror link was investigated, Uttar Pradesh Police say personal enmity could be the motive behind the well-planned murder.
The deputy superintendent of police was returning home from a wedding in Sahaspur late at night, along with this wife and two children. On the way, two men on a motorcycle caught up with them and asked him to pull over. As soon as Ahmed stopped the car, they started firing at the couple, but sparing the children. Ahmed, 45, died on the spot and his wife, Farzana, was critically injured; she is being treated at a Noida hospital. The preliminary autopsy report said more than two dozen bullets pierced his body. The shots were fired from a 9mm pistol, which is used by security forces. A team of officers from the state Anti-Terrorism Squad, Special Task Force, police and the NIA is investigating the murder.
Ahmed was part of a team investigating the Pathankot airbase attack and the murder took place a few days after Pakistan’s joint investigation team landed in India to investigate the attack. So, the agencies' primary objective was to find out whether there was a terror link to the murder. Under suspicion were the sleeper cells of terrorist groups such as the Indian Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Students Islamic Movement of India. Investigators have also been exploring local property disputes involving Ahmed, and examining his phone and laptop.
Inspector General Vijay Singh Meena said that, at the time of the murder (past midnight), 53 mobile phones were active in the 7km stretch from the wedding venue to the crime scene. The police are investigating the owners of the phones. They are also keeping an eye on 50 sharpshooters in western UP.
Additional Director General of Police Daljit Singh Chowdhary said they had examined the wedding videos and, when relatives were asked to identify the guests, they couldn't recognise two men. The police released the pictures of these men and launched a massive search operation.
Inspector General Ashok Mutha Jain said the police also scanned video footage from a CCTV camera installed at a nearby public school, which showed two motorcycle-borne men.
Ahmed joined the Border Security Force as a sub-inspector in 1991 and later went on deputation to the NIA. On April 4, the BSF granted Rs 20 lakh to his family, and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced a compensation of Rs 1 crore.
Ahmed was an expert on SIMI. He did extensive research on terrorists in Uttar Pradesh and was fluent in Urdu and Farsi, the languages used by many terror outfits. He closely followed terror reports on Pakistan.
Ahmed lived in Delhi and visited Sahaspur, where he grew up, once every two years. He kept a low profile and the people in his locality remember him as a simple man. They did not know he was with the NIA; most of them thought he was still in the BSF. Sahaspur resident Ahamed Jaheen said Ahmed had an amicable personality and mingled with locals whenever he visited the place.