Security agencies are now becoming quite certain that the August 1 low-intensity multiple blasts at Pune last week were carried out by the Yasin Bhatkal module, and not some new module of the Indian Mujahideen. Vicky Nanjappa reports.
Sources in the investigating agency point out that the question of a new module is ruled out. "Pune had always been on IM's radar and the death of its operative Qateel Sidddiqui in a Pune jail is what spurred them to carry out an operation in such a hurry.
After the 2010 German Bakery blasts, many IM operatives were arrested. The IM then followed this up by the 13/7 blasts in Mumbai last year, following which several more operatives were picked up and chargesheeted by the police.
The 13/7 blasts saw the emergence of the Darabanga module in Bihar, and it was ascertained that it was founded and headed by Yasin Bhatkal. The IM had recruited several youth from Darabanga and had used them to carry forward their activities.
Now with the Pune blasts investigations on, it is slowly being ascertained that the operation was carried out by the same module which carried out the 13/7 blasts. The police are revisiting the investigations conducted on Siddiqui.
Siddiqui who hailed from Bihar, was a close associate of Yasin, and they often met in New Delhi. In fact it was Siddiqui who familiarised Yasin with Darabanga and it was decided two years back that a module could be set up there.
They recruited some youth from Darabanga and readied them for future operations. They also handpicked a couple of youth who were studying in colleges in Tambaram, Tamil Nadu. In fact it was the arrest of these boys which led to the discovery of the Darabanga module in the first place.
"The Pune blasts could have been planned at the same time they were looking to carry out the 13/7 attack. Siddiqui had met with Bhatkal in Delhi. Following this meeting the recruitment took place at Darabanga. This gives the indication that the entire operation was planned in Delhi and later youth were recruited from Bihar and Tambaram," an investigator said.
The police say that for the Pune operation there were around six foot soldiers who planted the bombs.
"Pune was always on their radar, but they had not finalised the timing of the blasts. They had a bigger operation planned, but decided to rush through with it in order to send a message to those who killed Siddiqui, sources point out.
Could have been averted:
After the 13/7 blasts, the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad had been tipped off about the presence of Yasin Bhatkal in an apartment at Byculla. They had also got information about two other operatives by the names Waqab and Tabrez. However, the ATS decided not to follow up this information and made a loud announcement which tipped off these persons who managed to escape.
Yasin's escape has proven costly for the security agencies since he is still the man who runs the IM show. Getting him into their custody would have dented the IM a great deal and it would have been some time before they could have found a replacement for him. The IM was already struggling with the loss of many of their key men, but with Yasin at the head, the outfit was limping back into business slowly.
Sources say that Yasin is still hiding in India. There is a massive man hunt on for him and the agencies are hopeful of finding their man soon.
Meanwhile, investigators are now awaiting the results of the forensics sciences laboratory. It is by and large ascertained that ammonium nitrate had been used in the bomb and was timed by watches.
The police have also drawn up sketches of the accused persons and have some visuals from the CCTV footage. They say around 6 persons were present and could have planted the bomb that night.