Absconding for 22 years, SIMI operative Hanif Sheikh arrested by Delhi Police


PTI, Feb 25, 2024, 8:58 PM IST

SIMI member Hanif Sheikh. (Credit: X/@CellDelhi)

New Delhi: A 47-year-old member of Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) who also allegedly edited a magazine of the banned organisation besides indoctrinating many gullible youths has been arrested by the Delhi Police, officials said on Sunday.

According to the police, Hanif Sheikh was declared a proclaimed offender in 2002 and has been absconding for the last 22 years. He was nabbed on February 22 from Bhusawal in Jalgaon district in Maharashtra where he was a teacher in an Urdu school under a different identity, they said.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (Special Cell) Alok Kumar claimed that Hanif was the most notorious and wanted SIMI terrorist who had played pivotal roles in various activities of the proscribed organisation across the country.

Police said the SIMI magazine that Hanif Sheikh edited had his name printed as Haneef Hudai. This was the only lead available with the police, making it difficult to trace him, they said.

A case of sedition and under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) was registered against him in 2001 at New Friends Colony police station in the national capital. “A local court declared him proclaimed offender in 2002,” Kumar said.

“A team from the Special Cell was tasked with collecting data, information and other digital footprints about the absconding SIMI cadre, sympathisers and sleeper cells across states. The team extensively visited and collected information from various parts of the country,” he said.

The information collected by the team helped the Delhi police’s special cell to zero in on Hanif. Following this, a raiding party was formed which laid a trap, the officer said.

“Around 2.50 pm on February 22, a person travelling from Mohmadin Nagar to Khadka Road was identified as Hanif. As members of the team began to corner him, Hanif attempted to escape but was arrested after a scuffle,” the DCP said.

He said Hanif became highly radicalised after coming in contact with SIMI activists and after joining the organisation, he started attending its weekly programmes and radicalising youths. Hanif was later appointed as the editor of the Urdu edition of the SIMI’s magazine in 2001, the police officer said.

The DCP added that Hanif was one of the think tank members of Wahadat-e-Islam and played an important role in Maharashtra and other adjoining states. “He was also involved in collecting money under the guise of donations to support and finance the agenda of SIMI as well as Wahadat-e-Islam.”

After fleeing Delhi in 2001, Hanif moved to Jalgaon and subsequently to Bhusawal in Maharashtra from where he was arrested, police said.

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