Lalit Jha, Parliament Breach Planner, May Have Burned Key Evidence: Sources

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Lalit Jha, Parliament Breach Planner, May Have Burned Key Evidence: Sources

Parliament smoke attack: Sagar Sharma, D Manoranjan burst yellow smoke canisters in the Lok Sabha.

New Delhi:

Lalit Jha – the alleged mastermind behind the Parliament security breach – burned the mobile phones of four accomplices in a bid to destroy evidence, Delhi Police sources told NDTV Friday. Jha, who surrendered to the cops last night, said he had kept the mobile phones of the two men who popped yellow smoke canisters inside the Lok Sabha, and the man and woman did so outside Parliament.

Jha told police he filmed the latter incident, uploaded the clip to Instagram, and sent it to a Kolkata-based NGO to ensure media coverage, before fleeing the scene. On the run for 48 hours, he claimed to have travelled to Nagaur in Rajasthan to stay with two friends. Lalit Jha and another man, Mahesh, returned to Delhi Thursday evening, after which Jha gave himself up at a police station in central Delhi.

A teacher from Kolkata, Lalit Jha has been arrested and handed over to the Special Cell of Delhi Police, which is leading the investigation. His claim of having burned the phones is being verified.

READ | Mastermind Of Parliament Security Breach, A Kolkata Teacher, Surrenders

Police sources told NDTV Mahesh, the man who came with Jha from Rajasthan, was to join the rest in staging the smoke scare outside Parliament on December 13 – a significant date as it was the 22nd anniversary of a terror attack on the old Parliament building, in which nine people were killed.

Source said Mahesh, who had “full knowledge” of the conspiracy, is being tracked down.

Mahesh, the seventh accused in the Parliament security breach case.

Mahesh, the seventh accused in the Parliament security breach case.

Last evening the four who opened the smoke cans – Sagar Sharma and D Manoranjan inside Parliament, and Neelam Devi and Amol Shinde outside – were sent to police custody for a week.

READ | 4 Accused In Parliament Security Breach Sent To Police Custody For 7 Days

Delhi Police told the court the four, who hid the canisters in their shoes to escape what was supposed to be multiple levels of security, also had pamphlets they wanted to show Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The PM, though, was not in the House on Wednesday. The four told the police they wanted to bring issues like unemployment and the ethnic violence in Manipur to MPs’ attention.

The shoes were reportedly custom made for Sagar Sharma in Lucknow, his home town. The police told the court they intend to take him to Lucknow to identify the shop that made the shoes.

The smoke cans stuffed into the shoes were bought from Mumbai, the police said.

READ | “‘Missing PM’ Pamphlets, Lucknow Shoes”: Delhi Police To Court On Parliament Intruders

Meanwhile, police sources have told NDTV the smoke canisters used had ‘Made in China’ labels on them, and that they had labels warning against use in crowded or indoor areas. While not poisonous, the smoke may have harmed the health of the MPs and others, sources said.

The cops had also claimed a “terrorist” angle to what they declared was a big conspiracy.

However, irrespective of that line of investigation, the security breach has prompted a furious political row with the opposition demanding either the PM or Home Minister Amit Shah explain how it happened.

The ruling BJP and the opposition have traded barbs – each claiming links to the arrested individuals.

Amid protests in Parliament all day Thursday, 14 opposition lawmakers – all but one from the Lok Sabha – were suspended for this session, which is the last full sitting before next year’s election.

READ | “Does BJP Understand Democracy?” DMK’s Kanimozhi After 14 MPs Suspended

The opposition had also demanded a BJP MP – Prathap Simha, whose office had issued letters requesting visitors’ passes for two of the intruders – be investigated.

READ | BJP MP Prathap Simha On Row Over Passes To Breach Accused

Mr Simha denied any knowledge of what was to come when his office wrote the letter, and pointed out passes were issued by the Lok Sabha Secretariat, the final authority on security inside the Parliament.

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