BATLA HOUSE: An Encounter That Shook the Nation

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(as of May 04,2021 11:07:12 UTC – Details)

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September 2008: A series of ghastly bomb blasts shakes Delhi. Following investigations, a special cell of Delhi Police raids Flat no. 108 in Batla House. The instructions for the team were clear: Raid the flat and catch the suspected terrorists alive. What followed, however, was an encounter that stirred a political storm, instigated a witch-hunt, divided public opinion and remains a raging controversial topic in the media even today. Karnal Singh, the officer who spearheaded the operations in Batla House, narrates a mesmerizing minute-by-minute account of the chain of events leading up to the encounter that shook the nation. Weaving together inputs by the Intelligence Bureau (IB), multiple strands of events in various Indian cities, the labyrinth of information by local intelligence and informers, Singh creates an intriguing tale of an encounter that marked the beginning of the end of the obscure and dreaded Indian Mujahideen (IM).



From the Publisher

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Q1) Your book serves to right many wrongs regarding the Batla House case and public perception. Why do you say that?

Batla House encounter has been one of the most debated cases in the last decade and was surrounded with fake news and conspiracy theories. This case has been through multiple scrutiny from diverse and independent agencies and the truth has stood strong through the test of time, patience and adverse perceptions. This book has given minute by minute account of what happened before, during and after the Batla House encounter. It answers all the questions and doubts that have been raised about the encounter from time to time.

It also seeks to give credit and highlight the work done by the Special Cell team in solving the bomb blast cases, and their determination to fight against terrorism and serve the nation.

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Q2) Why did this encounter became controversial?

The assembly elections in five states were due in November, 2008 onward and Parliamentary elections were due in the beginning of 2009. The timing of this case embroiled it in political agenda of different parties. Then it was no longer about truth but about building compelling narrative to seek votes. Many politicians, activists and media houses picked up street rumours without any fact-checking. Fake news circulation caused it to be viewed by some as controversial, and caused an obstacle but only for a short while. All the facts, evidences and investigations proved the authenticity of the encounter.

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Q3) It was alleged that Special Cell did not do its homework properly before launching the raid?

It is incorrect to say that. The raid was based on thorough investigation done by the Special Cell team. The special cell officers methodically and relentlessly pursue every lead while solving difficult cases where information is scarce and scattered. That investigation had helped locate the hideout of the terrorists at L-18 Batla House. It was planned to raid the house and arrest them. Some team members had also recced the neighbourhood a night before. The team’s plan ensured that if terrorists were not found in the flat at the time of raid then team could withdraw without tipping anyone off and try another time. Therefore the one of the officers conducting the raid represented himself as a telecom executive to confirm their presence. Every detail that could be planned was planned.

Q4) Initially the media was also critical of the encounter. It however made a turn around. How did that happen?

The false narrative based on factually incorrect and misleading information was created around this case on political and religious lines.That led to media reporting every politician’s or activist’s opinion. We countered these opinions by presenting facts and evidences to media and answering all their queries in a transparent manner. This cleared all their doubts and they supported the investigation.

Q5) What were the pressures on you from political class?

There was no direct pressure on us by the political class on our day to day functioning. Media bytes with false narratives from a few politicians and activists were concerning and demotivating to the team members who worked day and night to solve this case. This can impact the morale of field officers who do not think a second before putting their lives in danger for the safety of our countrymen. We had faith in our justice system that works on facts alone and not on opinions. Batla House encounter went through several rounds of scrutiny from different agencies and ultimately the truth was supported widely and won over the many detractors as well.

Q6) The encounter started a series of events and investigation which weakened Indian Mujahideen. Do you think IM story is over or it may still rear its ugly head?

Most of the IM terrorists were arrested by the anti-terror units of various states after the Batla House encounter. However, according to the information with us, a few IM terrorists escaped to Pakistan and Dubai after the Batla house encounter. There is no information about them if they are alive or dead. Nevertheless, it can be concluded that the action by investigating agencies has eradicated the IM.

Q7) You have dedicated your book to Mohan Chand Sharma. It is very rare that a senior police officer acknowledges the work of his sub-ordinate so publicly?

The book has significantly brought out the investigating skills and leadership qualities of Mohan Chand Sharma. He had total devotion to his duties and the nation as in spite of his son struggling between life and death in the hospital, he chose to lead the team to conduct raid at the hideout of terrorists. I dedicate this book to him and countless unsung heroes who have lost their lives fighting terrorism. Their service to nation and their sacrifice will always be remembered.

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