Acquitted, but the hounding continues

Almost three years after terrorists targeted Hyderabad’s Mecca Masjid, the wounds of many of the city’s Muslims are yet to heal.
In the aftermath of the May 18, 2007 blasts, incidents like the police firing (in which several people lost their lives) and the arrests of several Muslim youth prompted many to ask why Muslims would target a revered mosque.

Dr Ibrahim Ali Junaid, 28, was accused of masterminding the blasts at the Mecca Masjid. After spending two years in prison, he was recently acquitted of all charges. He is back home, trying to re-start his interrupted life.

In an interview with’s Vicky Nanjappa, Dr Junaid says even though he had been acquitted, people still view him with suspicion.

What charges were leveled against you?

I was charged under Section 120(b) of the Indian Penal Code for conspiracy. It was alleged that I had planned the blasts with some other people.

It was said that I along with some other youth were sitting at a graveyard in Hyderabad and hatching a conspiracy against the country. It was also said that we had CDs of the Babri Masjid demolition and the Gujarat riots.

How were you picked up by the police? Were the mandatory procedures followed?

No, the procedures were not followed. I was in Delhi attending a seminar and on my return to Hyderabad, I was picked up from the railway station. I was forcibly shoved into a van and kept in custody for five days without anybody’s knowledge.

When were you produced in court?

After five days.

Can you share your experience in police custody?

They were brutal towards me. For five days, they subjected me to third degree torture, which was unbearable. They constantly forced me to admit my role in the Mecca Masjid blasts. I did not agree.

Why should I agree when I had not done it in the first place?

Despite this, they went ahead and filed a chargesheet for conspiracy and hatching a plot to carry out terrorist activities in the country.

What do you do today?

I am a doctor by profession. I was practicing at a hospital before my arrest and today — after my acquittal and subsequent release — I have resumed practice at the same place.

Is it easy to live in society after the acquittal? Have people accepted your innocence or do they still view you with suspicion?

It is not at all easy. The court has given me the stamp of innocence, but society has not yet done so. People still view me with suspicion.

I am coping up with it and also the questions that I have to answer every day.

I am just staying focused and doing my job. I hope as time goes by, people will accept my innocence and I can live like a normal citizen.

If the police have made such a mess out of your life, why are you sparing them?

I am not. Why should the police get away after fixing me for no fault of mine?

I have slapped a case for compensation against them. The case is going on and I am hopeful that I will be able to get some relief.

Do the police still trouble you?

Sometimes I think I have to live with this for the rest of my life. It is hard, but what do I do?

Every time there is some case of terrorism, they keep a watch on me and sometimes send people to talk to me.

I am being monitored 24 hours and this is not a good feeling. They asked me to sign a bond and visit the police station once a week.

I am scared I may lose my job since they have landed up there too to question me. I have approached the state human rights commission against this.

Will arrests like yours provoke other youth from your community to take up jihad?

I would not say that. They are angry for sure, but they will not take an extreme step for sure.

Such fake cases do anger the community, but we will fight it out legally.

Why were you targeted in this case?

As I said earlier, I have no clue. I was in my final year of studies.

The day the blasts occurred, I had gone there to offer prayers; the mosque is opposite my college. That is the extent to which I know.

After that I went to Delhi and was picked up on my return to Hyderabad.

Was there any other motive for your arrest?

I really do not know. I was part of the Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee and had protested the fake encounter of Sohrabuddin Sheikh. I was never part of SIMI (Students Islamic Movement of India).

During my days in custody, the police repeatedly kept asking me, ‘Will you protest the encounter?’ apart from asking me to admit my role in the Mecca Masjid blasts.

What message do you have for youth who face a situation like yours?

Just fight legally. I would like to appeal to the police to stop illegal detentions and harassment.

I hope the police makes arrests when they have concrete evidence and not lose sight of justice.


Why Hyderabad is a breeding ground for jihad

During interrogation in Kerala last week, alleged terrorist T Naseer claimed that Hyderabad is the epi-centre of jihad in India.’s Vicky Nanjappa reports from Hyderabad on how the city has become a breeding ground for jihadis.
A couple of days ago, captured Lashkar-e-Tayiba operative T Naseer reportedly told his Kerala police interrogators that Hyderabad is the Pakistani-based terrorist outfit’s Indian headquarters.

Information provided by the security agencies reveal that Hyderabad has the most number of alleged terror operatives who have gone missing or are currently believed to be resident in Pakistan.

Walking through the streets of Hyderabad’s old city, one does get the feeling of alienation amongst its youth. Old timers in the area say many of them have not come to terms with the fact that the city was liberated from the Nizam in September 1948 and handed over to the Indian government. They speak about how prosperous the city was under the Nizam and allege how after the liberation thousands of Muslims have been killed.

Maulana Nasirrudin, a Muslim cleric who has just been acquitted of charges under the Terrorist and Disruptive (Prevention) Activities Act, says that many residents have not forgotten the lives lost when the city was liberated nearly 62 years ago. He claims there have been several police atrocities against Muslims since as a result of which some have gone to Pakistan in a bid to take revenge.

“This is not the right approach. We need to stay and fight the government and demand our rights,” the maulana points out.

Mohammed Shahid Bilal, the alleged mastermind in the August 2007 twin blasts in the city and the Mecca Masjid blasts in May that year, who is said to have been killed in an encounter in Pakistan, continues to remain a hero in the area where he lived.

A youth from his area, who preferred not to be identified for this report, says, “Saab jab tak Bilal tha, paani or current ka problem nahin tha. (When Bilal was alive, we did not have water or power problems).”

“He was framed by the police since he stood up to a RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) leader,” alleges the young man. “The RSS leader wanted to instal a Ganapati pandal on wakf land and Bilal opposed this. After this they started fixing him in murder cases and later terrorism charges. He went to Pakistan to take revenge on the Indian establishment and has not returned since.”

The Hyderabad police dismiss this allegation. City police officers say many young men are influenced by Lashkar propaganda. “We have evidence to prove that these men owe allegiance to the Lashkar. In 2002 the Lashkar decided to get aggressive. In October 2002, 14 men were sent to Pakistan for training. Various reasons like the liberation of Hyderabad, the demolition of the Babri Masjid were given to brainwash these men,” the police sources say.

These men, the police sources claim, established sleeper cells in the city. In 2007, when the Lashkar gave a call for jihad, the likes of Bilal and Rehman Khan became full-fledged terror operatives. They were among the 14 men who had been sent to Pakistan and told to set up Lashkar networks in the city.

Intelligence Bureau agents believe Rehman Khan changed the thinking of many Muslim young men in Hyderabad and ensured that several Hyderabadi youth traveled to Pakistan to pursue jihad.

Hyderabad police sources say the first batch of 14 men executed several terror attacks including the assassination of former Gujarat home minister Haren Pandya, the May 2007 blast at the Mecca Masjid and the August 2007 twin blasts at Lumbini Park and Gokul Chaat.

“Muslims have always been blamed and sidelined,” says Riyaz, a resident of the city’s Moosrambagh area. “Today there is anger since many youth are being framed in terror-related cases. Why would a Muslim bomb a mosque and kill his own people? It was the blame for the Mecca Masjid blasts which angered us the most. I know it is stupid to join some organisation in Pakistan and fight the Indian government. But several youth have crossed the border to take revenge.”

Human rights activist Lateef Mohammad Khan, who is fighting for Muslim youth booked in cases of terrorism, believes it is a conspiracy against the community. “Is there anything wrong in raising your voice against injustice? If the youth raise their voice, then they are branded terrorists. Following the blasts in Hyderabad several youth were picked up. Thirty six youth were charged in these cases. As of today 30 have already been acquitted of all charges.”

Motasim Billa, who has been acquitted of terror charges, said during an earlier meeting: “I feel like laughing at what you guys write in the press. One day I am the commander of the HuJI (Harkat-ul-Jamaat-e-Islami) and the next day I am the chief of Lashkar’s southern operations. Here I am standing in front of you. Do I look like a terrorist? It is all a conspiracy.”

While the 2007 bomb blast cases and the charges that followed angered several Muslim youth, Maulana Nasiruddin’s arrest was a turning point. When the maulana was arrested for provocative speeches in the aftermath of the 2002 Gujarat violence, there was a protest outside the police headquarters. A young man named Mujahid was shot by the police.

IB agents claim this incident led to Nasiruddin’s son Riazzuddin Nasir, a friend of Mujahid, to take up arms. He was recruited by Lashkar agents and sent to train in Pakistan. Before he could carry out attacks, Nasir was arrested by the Karnataka police. He is currently in a Gujarat jail facing charges for the July 2008 Ahmedabad bombings. The maulana’s other two sons, Yasir and Jabir, are in an Indore jail facing terrorism charges.

The Lashkar, the IB sources say, has planned to set up a terror network in Hyderabad since 2000 when its founders Mohammad Saeed and Abdul Rehman Makki declared at a rally in Pakistan that the time had come to liberate Hyderabad from Hindu rule and restore the rule of the Nizam.

IB sources say the Lashkar first sent a man named Ishtiaq with an Indian passport. He married a local resident and tried setting up a network, but was picked up by the police.

Azam Ghauri then took over; he was accused of involvement in the March 12, 1993 Mumbai serial blasts. IB sources say Ghauri set up a network comprising nearly 70 men before he was killed in a police encounter.

Abdul Aziz, who had done jihadi service in Bosnia, was Lashkar’s next choice for leader. With the help of the city’s criminals he roped in the likes of Bilal and Rehman Khan.

A large part of Hyderabad’s old city remains underdeveloped. Many of its winding lanes are havens for petty crime, pervasive unemployment and poverty. The promoters of jihad find willing recruits from these lanes. Controversial clerics aid their cause.

“We have seized material several times which say the time has come for a jihad to liberate Hyderabad and restore the rule of the Nizam,” police sources say. IB sources believe the Lashkar has its strongest network in the old city.

During a meeting of America’s Federal Bureau of Investigation agents and Indian security officials it emerged that 21 terrorists operating in Pakistan, including Abu Jundal, have Hyderabad origins. Hyderabad, the IB sources say, has surpassed Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh and Kerala as a breeding ground for Indian terrorists.

Hyderabad police sources believe Lashkar recruiters, foot soldiers and planners operate in the city. “We have intelligence that in the years to come they will set up modules for fidayeen (suicide attackers),” the sources say. “We suspect that there are at least 10 dedicated Lashkar modules in the city. It is a cat and mouse game. Since the blasts of two years ago, we have neutralised at least four of them (modules), but they are constantly working and keep setting up more modules.”

The Kingfisher flight mystery continues

Two days after a crude bomb was found on a Kingfisher flight, various theories are being circulated regarding the origin of the bomb. While some say that it could be an act of terror, both police and Intelligence Bureau sources say it is a case of mischief.

A team of the Thiruvananthapuram police, who had come down to Bangalore, to probe the case have come to the conclusion that the bomb was sourced from Kerala itself and planted there itself.

The Karnataka police, too, are in agreement regarding the same theory.

It appears to be an insider job itself, the Karnataka police say and their counterparts in Kerala tell them that the consignment had entered into the airport as part of the firecrackers that are brought into the airport to scare away birds. It is certain that the entire operation was carried out in Kerala and the aircraft was clear when it landed and took off from Bangalore, the police maintain.

While the Karnataka police are certain that this was an act of internal rivalry, the Kerala police say that they would not rule out anything at the moment.

“It is our duty to explore every angle to the case,” said P Chandrasekaran, Additional Director General of Police, Kerala.

Basavaraj Malagathi, DCP, Bangalore North, says that they are looking into the angle of internal rivalry. So far 20 persons, including the aircraft personnel, have been interrogated, but so far nothing concrete has come out.

Meanwhile, the forensic report found that the crude bomb on the aircraft contained sulphur, aluminium powder and potassium sulphate ┬ľa combination which is similar used by the fishermen in Kerala. However the quantity of the potassium chlorate in the bomb gives an indication that it was not planted with an intention of causing large-scale damage. Experts say 10 g of potassium chlorate in the cricket-ball like object can ignite with heat, but would not have resulted in any loss of life.

Meanwhile, some serious security lapses have been found and a report is being prepared in this regard.

There was a security officer present until 4.35 am when the aircraft had arrived. However his shift changed and there was no replacement which came in until 5.20am which means the aircraft was left unguarded for 45 minutes. Investigations have found that the aircraft was not locked too.

Another serious lapse that has been found is that not all the loaders and technicians go through the CISF check. Confusion appears to have been caused due to constant change of employees due to a contract system which is outsourced. It has been noticed that this has been causing confusion for the security personnel.

Bomb on Kingfisher flight, act of internal rivalry

A day after the discovery of a crude bomb on board a Bengaluru-Thiruvananthapuram Kingfisher flight exposed the glaring lapses in security, the police are now considering the possibility of the incident being an ‘in-house job’.

“Preliminary investigations have revealed that there are several unregistered unions within the company which are trying to get the better of each other. There have been certain issues pertaining to transfers which have led to a cold war. Our initial probe suggests that the bomb could have been placed in a bid to embarrass the company,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (Bangalore North) Basavaraj Malagatti.

Meanwhile, the Central Industrial Security Force, which is in charge of maintaining security at airports, continues to blame the airline for the lapse, claiming it was the responsibility of Kingfisher personnel to screen the baggage at the departure lounge, before the passengers board the plane.

Kingfisher has retaliated by pointing out that the airline did not have a cargo hold and the cargo compartment is located between the cockpit and the passenger’s cabin, and hence it should have been the responsibility of the airport operators to check it.

According to the police, each department responsible for airport security is conducting an individual inquiry into the matter. The security breach, which has embarrassed the airport authorities and Kingfisher airlines equally, appears to be a result of internal rivalry between the unions.

Blame game
A debate regarding the security breach at the Bangalore International Airport due to which someone managed to plant a crude bomb on a Kingfisher Airlines [ Images ] aircraft from Bangalore to Thiruvananthapuram is on with the authorities blaming each other for the incident.

The Central Industrial Security Force, which is in charge of the airport’s security, has blamed the airline officials for the incident while the airlines authorities blamed the CISF.

Senior CISF officials said it is the responsibility of the airlines to screen the baggage that gets into the cargo, while the CISF ensures that they screen the hand baggage manually at the departure lounge before the passengers board the aircraft.

On the other hand the cargo baggage undergoes an x-ray screening before it is loaded to the aircraft, an official told

Both CISF and BIA who conducted a review meeting on the incident have blamed the airline for the security breach stating that the security norms at the airport is in compliance with the regulations laid down by the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security.

Anti-sabotage checks are supposed to be conducted twice before an aircraft embarks. The anti-sabotage check is usually conducted in the mornings and in case of an early morning flight, its done the previous night and only after the check is conducted clearance is given to take-off.

“If such a check had been conducted properly, the explosive material could have been detected,” said a CISF official.

Responding to the charges against them, the airline has said that flight IT 4731 being an ATR-72 aircraft does not have a cargo hold and the cargo compartment in the aircraft is located between its cockpit and the passenger cabin, and hence it is the responsibility of the airport operators to conduct any check.

“Shortly after Kingfisher Airlines flight IT 4731 landed in Thiruvananthapuram and after all the 27 guests on board had de planed, a routine security check was being carried out. During this security check, an unclaimed package was found. The matter was immediately reported to the authorities who removed the package from the aircraft, and as precautionary measure, the aircraft is being checked by the security agencies,” a statement from the Kingfisher stated.

Airport officials said that there was no lapse on its side and that it is impossible to smuggle explosives into the aircraft and to then load it on to an aircraft.

Meanwhile, investigators are also looking into the aspect whether explosives wrapped in a Malayalam newspaper could have been sneaked into the aircraft after the aircraft landed in Thiruvananthapuram, considering that the checks had already been carried at the BIA.

ANI adds:

The Kerala government has constituted a high-level committee headed by Deputy Commissioner of Police Jolly Cherian to probe the incident.

The state government has asked the security agencies to conduct a thorough investigation and find out how the lapse took place at the airport.

Kerala Law Minister M Vijaykumar said, “It is a serious security lapse. We have directed the security agencies to look into this.”

Team will be sent to quiz Headley

Indian investigators, who conducted a detailed probe into the David Coleman Headley’s link to the Mumbai 26/11 case, would wait before they can file a charge-sheet against the man who pleaded guilty before an American court on Thursday.

Home ministry officials told that Headley’s extradition has been ruled out for the time being, but they would send a team to the US to interrogate Headley regarding his involvement in the Mumbai case.

A source says that the final charge-sheet against Headley can be filed only after his interrogation or else it will look as though the man is an absconder.

“We will need to interrogate him and file a different charge since it would amount to double jeopardy as per our law if we try him under the same charges,” he said.

Intelligence Bureau officials, who are involved in the formalities to quiz Headley, say that the biggest concern is that Headley’s interrogation will have to remain within the framework of US laws.

“There are a lot of clauses that were inserted before Headley decided to plead guilty and the main one being that he cannot be extradited to India. When there is such a clause, it would be extremely difficult to seek his extradition,” the IB said.

Officials say that there would be no problem for them to question him in the US since there is no clause preventing them from doing that.

“Our agencies will go there and question him and he could also testify in the ongoing trial in Mumbai since he is involved in that case. A team comprising officials of the National Investigating Agency and the Intelligence Bureau is being prepared and they would go to the US to question Headley. Based on the information that he gives out pertaining to the Mumbai attacks, a chargesheet will be prepared against him. His statements to the Indian agencies would then be used in the trial. Though India may not be able to convict Headley thanks to his plea bargain, the case would be strengthened in India’s favour,” sources say.

While there would be information sought regarding his direct role in the Mumbai attacks, Indian agencies would also be looking to increase the pressure on Pakistan and question him regarding the role played by the Lashkar-e-Tayiba top leadership.

“They would also look to question him on the role of some former Pakistan army officials who he had claimed he had stayed in touch with. We are carefully examining his confession and the interrogation would revolve around that,” the IB said.

The IB says that it is hopeful of getting access to Headley without any problem this time around since they have information that officials from Denmark who have a case against Headley had managed to get access to him and also probe him.

Batla House findings raise suspicion of fake encounter

The post mortem reports in connection with the Batla House encounter has revealed that the two alleged terrorists, 17-year-old Mohammad Sajid and 24-year-old Atif Ameen, had been hit by a blunt object before they died in a shootout with the Delhi police.

The findings in the report indicate that youngsters had been hit during the encounter. which is surprising given that the policemen and the accused had used guns.

Families of the accused too have questioned why the police had resorted to beating the suspects during the encounter.

The findings have raised a bigger suspicion that the encounter was fake. Though the police has maintained that the youth were terrorists who had been involved in the Delhi blasts, their families and various human rights organisations have claimed that the encounter was fake.

The post mortem report of Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma of the Delhi police, who died in the encounter, mentions that he had died due to hemorrhagic shock, and adds that he had sustained one ante mortem injury (injury before death), which has not been established.

The four-page report, which was obtained through the Right to Information Act by activists Afroz Alam Sahil, a Jamia Millia Islamia student, states that Ameen had died due to shock and hemorrhage as a result of multiple injuries.

All the 21 injuries on the 24-year-old were ante mortem, of which 16 injuries were caused due to gunshots and the other five had been due to hitting with a blunt object.

The report in particular describes Ameen’s injury number 7, caused by “a blunt force impact by object or surface”, as “a reddish brown abrasion of 1.5×1 cm over outer and interior aspect of right kneecap”.

Sajid, the report states, had five bullet holes on the upper side of the head and that he was also beaten with a blunt object.

According to the report, Sajid had died due to craniocerebral (relating to cranium and cerebrum in the brain) damage as a result of gunshot injuries to the head.

He had 14 injuries in all. Injuries 1 to 12 were caused due to a firearm, while injury 13 was due to being hit with a blunt force.

Describing Injury No 13, the report says it was “4×2 cm abrasion, red in colour over back of chest in midline” and Injury No. 14 was a “laceration of size 3.5x2cm horizontally over front of right leg in the middle”.

The report also describes the cause of death of Inspector Sharma, but does not mention of any injuries were due to a blunt object.

Sharma, who had sustained bullet injuries during the encounter, died of hemorrhagic shock due to firearm injury to the abdomen, the report says.

It also speaks of an ante mortem injury on the left shoulder and left upper arm was explored and debrided.

The postmortem report also states that Sharma had sustained injuries during crossfire in a police encounter in Jamia Nagar.

Underworld to carry out the terror plan

The re-emergence of the underworld in the country has left Indian security agencies worried.

Though the arrest of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim’s aides Hamza and Mufti Obaidulla came as a big setback, the D-gang has persisted with the task of rebuilding its network in the country.

Intelligence Bureau officials told that there is a clear-cut change in the manner in which the underworld has been operating off late. Earlier, terror-related operations were specific to funds and logistics. However, the Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence has now specifically directed the underworld to re-create the 1993 scenario, which was entirely handled by the latter.

The likes of Kayub and Bashir Khan (Dawood’s aides who allegedly helped execute serial blasts in Mumbai and who specialize in extortion) have been directed by the D-company to handle terror plots.

Following the several blasts in the country, the modules of Lashkar-e-Tayiba and Indian Mujahideen have gone underground. The ISI sensed that the modules were unable to operate as freely as they used to earlier following the arrest of several key persons by the Indian security agencies.

The ISI was clearly aware that the focus on the underworld operatives was much less when compared to the terror modules. IB officials say that the ISI has always managed to arm-twist Dawood to a large extent.

It is a known fact that he has been provided shelter and a safe route to carry out his narcotics trade with the blessings of the ISI. Currently, the D-gang is worth Rs 4000 crore only in terms of its narcotics trade and the ISI insists that at least 40 per cent of that amount is parted with to fund terrorism against India.

The Pune blast was the last incident carried out with the help of terror modules. The IB says that the ISI is not prepared to use any of the other modules in India for terror strikes for at least some time. Hence, they had planned on roping in the underworld to carry out more strikes. This would mean that even if there were a blast, the foot solider would be someone who is not part of the IM or the Lashkar. Instead, the men would be hired by the underworld and used in the mission.

The irony is that the interrogation of these men too would not yield many results, as they would be fresh in the business and would have no contact with any of the main perpetrators.

Kayub would pump in the funds from Dubai while Bashir would operate from Pakistan, cops say, adding that it was Bashir who had hired the two persons (identified as Abdul Latif Rashid and Riyaz Ali Imtiaz now in the custody of the ATS) to carry out strikes in Mumbai.

The IB says that this is a dangerous precedent since the D-gang network within India is far larger when compared to the IM or the Lashkar. Their men are the strongest in Maharashtra. However, there has been a major expansion and the gang is very much on the rise in Lucknow, Kerala and Mangalore.

Headley extradition depends on India’s charges

David Headley, who played a big role in the Mumbai 26/11 terror attacks, will plead guilty before a Chicago court in the United States on Thursday. But Headley’s extradition to India, the territory where he has played the biggest role in conducting terror attacks, is still uncertain.

Sources in the home ministry told that attempts to extradite Headley to India are still on and every possibility was being worked upon.

Legal experts, however, pointed out that if India wanted to avoid legal obstacles, its charges against Headley must be very different from those filed in the US.

Justice Santosh Hegde, former judge of the Supreme Court, pointed out that the chargesheet against Headley should not be similar to the one filed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The FBI in its chargesheet has stated that they would be trying Headley on six counts including aiding and abetting the murder of US citizens during the Mumbai attacks.

Justice Hegde said that if the charges filed by the FBI and the Indian agencies were similar, India’s case to extradite Headley would be weakened.

India does have an extradition treaty with the US that was signed in 1997, however our Constitution does not permit any person to be tried on the same count twice.

Article 20 of the Indian Constitution clearly mentions that the rights of a person are hit if he is tried twice in the same case and that this would amount to double jeopardy.

Sources from the Intelligence Bureau said they would wait for more leads from the FBI before proceeding with a final chargesheet.

A source from the IB said: “The US has every right to try any accused for the murder of its citizens. However, we will focus more on Headley’s conducting a recee in India as a result of which the attacks on Mumbai were carried out. We hold him responsible for the death of several Indians during the attacks and also for the loss of property. He is an abettor to the crime and our chargesheet will mention that.”

The charges will be different to the one filed by the FBI, the source added.

Indian legal experts also pointed out that even if Headley pleaded guilty in the US, it would not have any implications on the case in India.

“His pleading guilty will have a bearing only with the trial going on in the US. If at all India does manage to extradite him, a fresh trial will be conducted against Headley and the ongoing trial in the US will not be clubbed,” a legal expert said on condition of anonymity.

Chota Shakeel men nabbed in Mlore

The Mangalore Police have picked up 11 men allegedly belonging to the Chota Shakeel gang and seized cash, a pistol and swords from them.

Inspector General of Police Gopal Hosur informed that they were on a mission to eliminate four aides of the rival Ravi Poojary gang.

The police further informed that four of them were sharpshooters from Mumbai.

Further, it was also revealed that Chota Shakeel had transferred Rs 2 lakh to these persons to carry out this mission.

The police say that they are looking out for more gang members and unravel their network.

The D-gang and terror groups nexus

The year 1993 saw one of the most horrific bombings in Mumbai in which over 250 persons lost their lives. It was for the first time that India saw the merger of the underworld and terrorist outfits to carry out an attack in which scores of innocent people were killed. Two decades have passed and the main operatives of the incident continue to remain elusive.

The Mumbai Anti Terrorism Squad two days back made two important arrests — Abdul Latif and Riyaz Ali. The ATS had claimed that the duo was planning on carrying out three blasts, one at the ONGC and the other two at a mall and a market.

While their current operation is under the scanner, an interesting fact that has come to light are the phone calls made to Karachi by Abdul Latif. Investigations now show that the calls were being made a man by the name Bashir Khan, one of the men wanted in the Mumbai serial blasts of 1993.

Intelligence Bureau sources told that it is now clear that Khan is the uncle of Latif and the duo had stayed in touch with each other while planning the current operation.

It is a clear sign that the underworld, which operated out of Mumbai and is now in Pakistan, were planning on targeting key Indian cities, especially Mumbai.

Interrogation of Latif has revealed that Bashir Khan, a key aide of the Dawood Ibrahim gang reporting to another accused in the serial blasts — Razak Memon — is based out of Karachi and was planning on targeting India at the behest of the Inter Services Intelligence.

Latif during his interrogation has revealed that Khan is his uncle and it was at his behest that this operation was being carried out. He further said that Khan had also recruited Ali for the same task. Latif incidentally is married to Ali’s sister.

Bashir Khan, according to the IB sources, was a major arms smuggler in the D-gang. Following the 1993 blasts, he slipped into Pakistan and has been absconding since then. Born in the year 1962 in Mumbai, Khan had joined the D-gang in the year 1984.

He was sent to Pakistan in 1989 where he was trained in smuggling of arms and explosives. It were these skills that made the D-gang choose him to smuggle in the arms for the serial blasts of 1993.

Khan was part of the planning and the execution of the 1993 blasts since day one. Not only did he take care of bringing in the consignment, he also helped arrange the foot soldiers for this attack. A couple of days before the blasts took place, he moved in Pakistan and has been operating out of there ever since, the IB sources point out.

The duo that has been arrested had said that they were carrying out these attacks to avenge the Gujarat riots.

However, the IB sources note that this was just an excuse and the reasons were entirely different in nature. Both these men have relatives in Gujarat, who claim that they were affected by the violence.

While this could have been the primary reason for their recruitment, the real reasons are completely different, the IB sources feel.

The ISI has been pressurising the D-gang to carry out an elaborate operation in Mumbai for quite some time now. While the attack at the ONGC was planned with a view of gaining maximum attention, the attack planned at a shopping mall was only to avenge personal rivalry.

It is said that Ali had an affair with the daughter of his former employee at the mall and he had even tried to elope with her. However, he was handed over to the police and this could be one of the reasons for carrying out a blast in that place.

Regarding the blasts at the Mangal Das market, IB sources say that this is a crowded area and security is not too tight and hence they had planned on attacking this place.

The IB sources point out that these men were just foot soldiers and there is no indication that they were in the higher rung of the terror network. They were not involved in recruitment directly and constantly reported to Bashir Khan, who took care of the entire operation from Pakistan.

It would be fair to say that they were just assigned the job of conducting a recee and also providing information to Khan, who in turn would have organised men to go about planting the bombs along with these two persons.

However, most importantly these men hold the key to the exact whereabouts of Khan. The cops would also be looking to find and bust the network that Dawood still continues to have in Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra.

This would also help in finding out the routes that the D-gang uses to smuggle in arms and ammunition into the country which are being used for terror attacks, the IB sources note.

Photograph courtsey: Central Bureau of Investigation