Investigators look at similarities between blast in Varanasi and Delhi. NIA asks ATS details of Varanasi blast case. Vicky Nanjappa reports.
As investigators probing the September 7 Delhi high court blast continue to look for more clues, the National Investigation Agency has sought the help of the Anti-Terrorism Squad that has been probing the Varanasi blast case.
A couple of days ago it was claimed that there was some breakthrough in the Delhi HC blast case and some operatives of the Harkat-ul-Jihadi were behind it. Today, however, there appears to be a divergence from that stand. Investigators are now trying to find a link between the Indian Mujahideen and the blast, which is why they are looking closely at details from the Varanasi blast.
The trail began at Jammu and Kashmir where the NIA picked up two persons in connection with the Delhi blast. On the basis of the emails sent out after the blast, NIA said that these apprehended youngsters were HuJI operatives.
However, when investigators questioned other HuJI operatives who were already under arrest, they realized there wasn't a very strong link.
Today, investigating agencies are looking very strongly at an Indian Mujahideen link to the blast. A member of the ATS team who has been probing the Varanasi blast says that they are confident that it was the IM which carried out these blasts. The questioning of the operatives and the clues that have emerged so far give the indication that the youngsters who carried out the Varanasi blast were from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
When the blast at Varanasi took place, it was found that a module from Delhi had planned the operation and some elements from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar were deployed to carry out the operation. There were also links to the United Arab Emirates where a prime accused Asadullah Akthar is based.
The Batla House encounter, which took place on September 19, 2008, against suspected IM terrorists is said to be the reason for blasts across the country.
There are a large number of youth who are disgruntled and continue to believe that the entire operation at Batla House was stagemanaged by the police. This has led several youth, from the Indian Mujahideen in particular, to carry out such strikes. The aim is to embarrass the police force and also send them on a wild goose chase, say investigators.
The most active modules of the IM are still in Delhi and coordinate with the UP module. Although they are not in full strength, they are still capable of being an irritant to the security forces.
Today investigators are looking at similarities between the Delhi HC blast and the blast at Varanasi. Moreover, it was clear to investigators that a blast at Delhi was easier for the IM to carry out than for the HuJI.
So was the blast carried out by the IM and the mail sent out in the name of HuJI? "We are looking into that aspect as well," said a source in the NIA. He also pointed out that the mail could have been intentionally sent from Kashmir since it is a known fact that the IM does not have a significant presence there and the trail could lead to some other terror group.
It is clear that the IM does not want any trail leading up to it, because it won't do them any good in their rebuilding exercise. Hence they are adopting newer strategies and would continue to confuse investigators.
To a large extent their objective has been achieved. They had the investigators running after the HuJI all these days and today when the probe is on the IM, it has given the foot soldiers ample time to abscond.
The Varanasi team has ample proof with it to show that it was the IM which executed the blast. They have a video and also a photograph of the person who coordinated the blasts. More information was obtained through interrogations, but by the time investigators realised who had carried out the attack, the person had managed to give the slip.
The key to the investigation into the latest series of blasts would depend heavily on how much investigators are able to obtain from the modules of the IM in UP, Bihar and Delhi. Although reports of the Intelligence Bureau say that these operatives are working in splinter groups, the fact remains that they are still able to carry out an attack with ease and more importantly dodging investigators.