The Hindu – Man in Pakistan custody came under the Anti-Terrorism Squad scanner in 2003

He went missing in 2006 and later that year crossed the border, say police

Rupanwita Bhattacharjee

Mumbai, 22 May 2017. Nabi Ahmed Sheikh, the Mumbai native who has been arrested in Pakistan for allegedly staying in the country with invalid documents, was under the scanner of the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad in 2003 and crossed the Jammu border to enter Pakistan three years later, senior officers confirmed to The Hindu on Monday.

Sheikh, a native of Jogeshwari in Mumbai, was arrested in Islamabad on May 19 after a routine screening at a checkpost revealed that he did not have a valid visa and other documents to enter Pakistan.

A highly placed source said, “Sheikh was last seen in Mumbai in early 2006 and later crossed the Jammu border to go to Pakistan. We have had multiple confirmations of this fact.”

To Dubai, for a job

Sources said Sheikh left his residence telling his family that he was going to Dubai for a job opportunity. His brother was accompanying him to the Mumbai airport the day he left but Sheikh made him to get off the cab on the way and was never heard from since then. Shortly thereafter, investigating agencies learned that he had entered Pakistan through the Jammu border.

ATS officers said he first came under the scanner of multiple investigative agencies in 2002-2003, when the December 2002 Ghatkopar blasts were being investigated.

“A group of young men from Jogeshwari (east) were picked up for inquiries at the time in connection with the blasts in Mumbai for their affiliations to the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), which was ultimately found to be behind the blasts.

The interrogation of these men had revealed Sheikh as a suspect and he had been under the scanner since then,” an ATS officer said.

Residents of Sheikh’s locality in Jogeshwari, too, said they had not seen him for years together. Iqbal Ahmed Sheikh, who grew up with Sheikh, or ‘Taj’ as he was called in the area, said, “He was very obedient as a child but he suddenly changed in his late teens.

I started hearing he was involved in illegal activities and his family was shunned by everyone. Nobody wanted to marry his sister, who is well educated and a professor. His father left them years earlier and his mother and siblings, too, moved out later.”

Mehroon Sheikh, another neighbour, said, “Taj used to help his father in his embroidery business. We used to have good relations with his family till they left the area.”

Meanwhile, the Indian High Commission in Islamabad has spoken to Pakistan’s Foreign Office twice since the arrest of Sheikh Nabi came to light. The Sources told The Hindu that the High Commission contacted the foreign office on Sunday and Monday to share details of the person arrested and requested consular access to him so they can ascertain his identity.

Pakistan police had arrested a man they said was Indian national Sheikh Nabi over incomplete travel documents. Nabi was arrested from the F-8 sector in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad and booked under the Foreigner’s Act 1946 and then sent to 14-days of judicial custody.Meanwhile Ministry of External Affairs has refused to comment.

With inputs from Mubashar Zaidi


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