LS Speaker for probe into security breach

New Delhi : Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Saturday informed members of the House he has formed a “high-powered committee” to review various aspects of security in the Parliament complex and formulate an action plan to ensure that the December 13 incident is not repeated.

In a letter to Lok Sabha members, Birla also said the report of the high-level inquiry committee set up by the Union Home Ministry will “soon” be shared with the House.

“In addition, I have also constituted a High Powered Committee which will review various aspects of security in the Parliament Complex and formulate a concrete action plan to ensure that such incidents do not recur,” he said in the letter.

Meanwhile, the Delhi Police Special Cell intensified its crackdown on the accused involved in the Parliament security breach. On Saturday, they arrested the sixth accused, identified as Mahesh Kumawat. Police sources said Kumawat has been charged with the destruction of evidence and criminal conspiracy.

Sources said all five accused will be taken to their native places for evidence recovery and interrogation. Additionally, the police plan to record the statement of BJP MP Pratap Simha, in whose name authorisation was issued to two intruders. Furthermore, the police are planning to recreate the crime scene inside the Lok Sabha.

During court arguments for remand and further interrogation, the Delhi Police informed the court that the custody of the accused was required “to find the actual motive behind the attack and his association with an enemy country and terrorist organisations.”

The prosecutor told the court that Kumawat had been in contact with other accused persons in hatching the conspiracy for the last two years. He assisted the mastermind, Lalit Jha, in destroying the mobile phone to eliminate evidence and hide the larger conspiracy. The prosecutor added Kumawat needs to be questioned to unearth the entire conspiracy.

Kumawat had voluntarily come to a police station with Lalit Jha on Thursday night, and both were handed over to the Special Cell. He has been under questioning since then. The police revealed he was a member of the now-deleted Bhagat Singh Fan Club page created by the accused.

The initial investigation by Delhi Police has revealed that one of the two intruders involved in the security breach and dramatic protest in the Lok Sabha on December 13 had travelled and lived in Cambodia for a brief period, reportedly working as an aid work volunteer after dropping out from an engineering course.

It has been revealed that Manoranjan Devaraj, 33, a resident of Mysuru and one of the main intruders, had traveled to Cambodia via Bangkok around 2014 to work as a volunteer, as per his international travel records. His travel details are being verified by investigating agencies. The police are also checking if there is a foreign funding angle in this case.

Sources said that the five accused revealed that they explored self-immolation and distribution of pamphlets before settling on the plan to jump into the Lok Sabha’s chamber with smoke canisters. A Delhi Police official said, “Before finalising this plan (to jump into the Lok Sabha chamber), they (the accused) had explored certain ways that could be impactful in sending their message to the government.”

They first explored immolating themselves by covering their bodies with fireproof gel but dropped this idea. They also considered distributing pamphlets inside Parliament but finally went ahead with the plan they executed on Wednesday, the official said.

Furthermore, the police will be taking all five accused to their native places for evidence recovery and interrogation. Lalit Jha will also be taken to Rajasthan, where he had fled after the incident.

The police will seek Parliamentary approval to recreate the incident that took place on the anniversary of the 2001 attack. The sources also said they may record the statement of BJP MP Pratap Simha, in whose name authorisation was passed to two intruders. Apart from this, the accused had also planned to start a political outfit.

However, for this, they wanted to garner media attention. They felt that by breaching the security of Parliament, their purpose would be met, one of the accused informed the police.

The four accused — Neelam, Amol, Sagar Sharma, and Manoranjan — had arrived with seven smoke cans to carry out the incident. Notably, Sagar, along with another accused, Manoranjan D, had allegedly popped the canisters carrying yellow smoke in the Parliament on December 13, the day the country observes the anniversary of the 2001 Parliamentary attack.