Indian police arrest alleged mastermind of parliament breach

Lalit Jha, a teacher working in Kolkata, turned himself in to Delhi police on Thursday

Sagar Sharma, centre, is one of two men arrested inside India's parliament building after jumping into the chamber. AP Photo
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Police have arrested the alleged mastermind behind a security breach at India's parliament on the anniversary of a deadly terrorist attack on the legislative complex in New Delhi 22 years ago.

On Wednesday two men jumped from the visitors’ gallery into the well of the lower house of parliament and set off smoke canisters that released thick yellow fumes, triggering nationwide alarm and raising questions about the security of one of India’s most protected sites.

They were arrested inside the building, while a man and a woman were detained outside after setting off canisters of coloured gas.

An officer in the Delhi police force, which is investigating the incident, told The National that Lalit Jha, suspected to be the main conspirator, was arrested after surrendering late on Thursday.

Mr Jha, originally from the eastern state of Bihar, was working as a teacher in Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal state. He is believed to have stood outside Parliament and filmed the protest by his alleged associates before fleeing.

People in Kolkata who knew him said Mr Jha was a reserved and seldom interacted socially, the Press Trust of India reported.

The December 13, 2001 attack on Parliament left more than a dozen people dead, including the five gunmen who managed to enter the legislature complex in a car bearing fake security passes.

Updated: December 15, 2023, 12:16 PM