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 rediff.com 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