Aftab Ahmed Khan, a retired Indian Police Service officer who was credited with establishing the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) in the Mumbai police three decades ago – the country’s first such elite force – died in Mumbai on Friday, a police official said.
During his decades-long career, the celebrated police officer was also involved in numerous operations against Mumbai gangsters and terrorists.
He was 81 years old and is survived by his wife, two sons, and a daughter.
Khan was diagnosed with COVID-19 a few days ago and was admitted to a private hospital in suburban Andheri, where he was later discharged, according to an official.
However, he was rushed to the hospital again this afternoon, where he was declared dead before admission, he said.
Khan, a 1963-batch IPS officer, stated that he resigned from the Maharashtra police in 1995 while serving as Inspector General of Police.
According to the official, the veteran officer was known as the founder of the ATS, which was the country’s first such counter-terrorism organization at the time.
The Mumbai police department established an anti-terror agency in 1990, inspired by the Los Angeles Police Department’s Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT).
“Khan saab was a daring officer who always led from the front,” PTI quoted Iqbal Shaikh, a retired assistant commissioner of police who worked with him on various operations, as saying.
Throughout his distinguished career, he never buckled under pressure and was always forthright in his demeanour, according to Shaikh.
On January 24, 1991, a team led by Khan travelled to Baroda (now Vadodara) in Gujarat, where ‘Operation Baroda’ took place for two days and the chief of the Khalistan Commando Force, Baldeo Singh Saini, and four other terrorists were killed, he said.
“In 1992, our team killed five terrorists at Khindipada in suburban Mulund,” recalled the retired ACP.
Terrorist Manjitsingh alias Lalsingh was apprehended by Khan’s team in 1992 at Dadar Railway Station in Central Mumbai, when he arrived by train from Amritsar, according to Shaikh.
He claimed Lalsingh was involved in the 1985 Air India Kanishka flight bombing.
According to the former ACP, Lalsingh was also involved in the firing on then-Haryana Chief Minister Bhajan Lal during his visit to Canada.
According to Shaikh, Khan led the Mumbai police team that killed dreaded criminals Maya Dolas and Dilip Buwa during a shootout at the Swati Building in Lokhandwala Complex.