Parliament Smoke Attack Mastermind Last Seen Near Delhi: Sources

New Delhi: The mastermind behind the Parliament smoke scare may well be Lalit Jha – on the run and

Parliament Smoke Attack Mastermind Last Seen Near Delhi: Sources

New Delhi:

The mastermind behind the Parliament smoke scare may well be Lalit Jha – on the run and last seen in Neemrana, a fort-town 125 km from the national capital – Delhi Police sources have told NDTV. 

Sources have claimed a larger conspiracy behind the Wednesday afternoon attack, in which two men popped yellow smoke canisters inside the Lok Sabha, and a man and a woman opened red and yellow canisters, while shouting slogans against dictatorship, outside Parliament.

Initial inquiries suggest the date of the security breach – December 13 – was fixed on instructions from Lalit Jha. The date was significant because it was the 22nd anniversary of an attack on the old Parliament building by Pakistan-based terror groups, in which nine died.

Jha, a resident of Kolkata and a teacher by profession, was influenced by revolutionery Shaheed Bhagat Singh and wanted to do something that drew the country’s attention to him, sources said.

There is no connection, so far, with any known terror group, sources also said.

Police sources said Jha had summoned his accomplices – identified as Sagar Sharma and D Manoranjan (inside the Lok Sabha) and Neelam Devi and Amol Shinde (outside Parliament), as well as Vicky Sharma, at whose house they met – to Gurugram yesterday morning, before the incident.

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All six reportedly wanted to be inside Parliament to pop the smoke canisters together but only Sharma and Manoranjan managed to secure visitors’ passes; these were issued by request from BJP MP Prathap Simha’s office. Mr Simha, the lawmaker from Mysuru, has denied any connection, apart from asking the Lok Sabha Secretariat, which is supposed to screen visitors, to issue passes. 

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Unable to be on the inside, sources said Jha, who is from Bihar, filmed the smoke scare outside Parliament on his mobile phone and uploaded it to social media before fleeing the scene. He also shared the clip with the founder of a Kolkata-based NGO to ensure media coverage, sources told NDTV. The founder does not seem to have had prior knowledge of Jha’s smoke protest plan. 

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Jha was, however, listed as the General Secretary of this organisation, which is being investigated, police have said.  He also grabbed the mobile phones of his four accompliaces before he fled. Police believe there may be further evidence on those devices, which Jha might try to erase. 

The others connected to the incident – Sagar Sharma (from Lucknow), Manoranjan (from Mysuru), Neelam (from Hisar), and Amol (from Latur), as well as Vicky Sharma – have all been arrested.

They told the police their actions were motivated by issues like unemployment and the ethnic violence in Manipur, and that they hoped to catch MPs’ attention and force a debate on these issues.

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Opposition MPs have demanded a thorough investigation into this incident. Parliament security protocols have been revamped and tightened, and visitors have, for now, been banned from entry.

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