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Remembering the first time terror haunted Varanasi

December 07, 2010 21:32 IST

Recalling the blasts that shook Varanasi in March 2006

The first blast took place at nearly 6.20 pm at the Sankat Mochan Hanuman temple. Minutes after the first blast, another blast took place at a waiting room at the Varanasi cantonment railway station. Three live bombs were recovered from the temple complex and one was recovered from a nearby restaurant. Live bombs were also recovered from Godolia and Dashaswamedh ghaat.

The Special Task Force of the Uttar Pradesh police, which investigated the two explosions, announced on April 5, 2006, that its investigation had established that the two blasts were carried out by three terrorists of the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami of Bangladesh, with local help provided by one Walilullah, the Imam of a mosque at Phulpur in Allahabad, and five others.

While Walilullah and the five others, who had helped the three terrorists from Bangladesh, were arrested, the three terrorists, who actually carried out the explosions, managed to escape to Bangladesh after carrying out the terror strikes.  The UP police  described Walilullah as the 'Eastern UP Area Commander' of HuJI-B.

In a confessional statement, Walilullah reportedly cited the demolition of the Babri Masjid in UP in December 1992 and the anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat in February 2002 as the reasons for the terrorist strikes against the temple and the railway station. He projected the twin blasts as acts of reprisal terrorism.

He gave the names of the three persons, who came from Bangladesh to carry out the explosions, as Bashiruddin alias Bashir, Mustafiz and Zakaria, all Bangladeshi nationals. According to his version, they had studied along with him at the Deoband seminary in UP some years ago and he had been in touch with them since then.

Walilullah had once been arrested by the Allahabad police in 2001 for his suspected links with the Jaish-e-Mohammad of Pakistan. He was released after eight months without being prosecuted. Bashiruddin took him to Bangladesh in June 2004 and introduced him to one Maulana Asadullah of HuJI-B, who enrolled him into the organisation and appointed him as its area commander for Eastern UP.

The other five arrested accused were Syed Shuib and Farhaan (Lucknow), Mohammad Rizwan Siddiqui and Mohammad Saad Ali (Amroha) and Shahid (Allahabad). They were working in a power loom in Bhiwandi near Mumbai. All the arrested accused reportedly confessed that they had visited Pakistan via Bangladesh for training in jihadi terrorism, organised by Maulana Asadullah.

B Raman