‘Parliament not initial target’

As a crime reporter with a leading national daily I was among the first few in the media to get access to Afzal Guru. In fact, the day the then Delhi police commissioner Ajai Raj Sharma announced at a packed press conference at the PIB conference hall in Shastri Bhavan that they had successfully cracked the Parliament attack case, senior police officials assured me of an exclusive interaction with Afzal Guru.

Interestingly, Shastri Bhavan, and not the Delhi police headquarters, was chosen as the venue for the press conference as it had a bigger hall to accommodate more mediapersons as the case had evoked a lot of interest even among the international media. Immediately after the press conference I accompanied a senior police official in his Gypsy to the special cell’s Lodhi Road office.
Minutes after we reached the senior official’s office, Afzal Guru walked in, handcuffed and accompanied by two sub-inspectors. He pulled up a chair and sat right in front facing me. The first impression was that the man did not look perturbed or upset. Yes, he did look tired considering the fact that he had undergone marathon interrogation sessions with special cell sleuths.
Slowly he started talking. Narrating the entire sequence of events. He talked confidently, saying Parliament House was not the initial target as they had done a recee of the diplomatic area in the capital as well the Delhi Assembly. Guru claimed he was part of the conspiracy along with top Jaish-e-Mohammed commander Ghazi Baba who was the mastermind of the case. That was the first time I too had heard Ghazi Baba’s name who later went on to be one of the most wanted terrorists in the country.
Guru gave graphic details of how the conspiracy was hatched and the four Pakistani militants killed in the incident. He also disclosed that he had been to Pakistan where he underwent training for three weeks. Though initially he claimed he was attracted to militant outfits due to ideological reasons, he admitted that the financial aspect played a crucial role too as he wanted money.
However, most of the elaborate details quoting Guru could not be carried in the publication I was working for then.
as there was a view that this would amount to “extra-judicial confession” since the trial of the case was yet to start.

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