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Gujarat cops crack serial blasts case

File photo of Mufti Abu Bashir
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August 16, 2008 16:28 IST
Last Updated: August 16, 2008 22:38 IST

Gujarat Police on Saturday claimed to have busted a pan-India network behind the serial blasts in Ahmedabad and other cities in the country with the arrest of 10 people, including Mufti Abu Bashir -- described as the mastermind behind the explosions. broke this news first: Breakthrough in Ahmedabad blasts case

"We have almost entirely solved the case. We have arrested 10 people who were involved in the July 26 blasts including the mastermind, Mufti Abu Bashir," Gujarat Director General of Police P C Pande said.

He said most of the arrested persons were part of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India and Bashir, picked up in a joint operation by the Uttar Pradesh [Images] and Gujarat Police, had planned out the entire blasts.

In India, we don't catch terrorists

The Indian Mujahideen [Images], which had claimed responsibility for the Ahmedabad [Images] blasts, was nothing but 'another form' of the banned SIMI [Images], he said.
Though refusing to give details about other arrested persons, he, however, said that the investigations into the blasts were carried out in a number of states, which included UP, Madhya Pradesh [Images], New Delhi [Images] and Karnataka.

"In no previous blasts, has the case being completely solved. These arrests may give leads to other blasts that including Jaipur [Images], Hyderabad and Uttar Pradesh," the police chief claimed.

The one billion+ cannon-fodder

Throwing fresh leads to the Hyderabad blasts, Pande claimed that Bashir had stayed in that city for two years prior to the August 2007 blasts.

About SIMI's involvement with Pakistan-based Lashker-e-Tayiba, Pande said there had been some leads establishing the same.

"One may find links between SIMI-LeT and Pakistan's ISI as the investigation proceeds," he said.

ISI's Indianisation of jihad

The police was also on a look out for Mumbai-based Wipro [Get Quote] engineer, alleged to be the co-conspirator in the blasts and his role in sending the email minutes before the blasts was not ruled out.

Commenting about the Indian Mujahideen, Pande told reporters that it was nothing but an off-shoot created by the hardliners in the SIMI.

Police said the SIMI cadres were given arms training in the jungles of Kerala [Images] in 2006, which was followed by another round of training at Halol in central Gujarat in January this year.

'Terrorism and riots are not interlinked'

The arrested militants had made several plans to kidnap or hijack to free Safdar Nagori, an alleged top SIMI activist, arrested in Madhya Pradesh in March this year.

Later it was decided to carry out a revenge attack as they failed to secure his release legally or through any other nefarious plan.

"Arrest of a mastermind in the city's serial blasts case is a very important event and we believe that it will uncover many unsolved links to bomb blasts that took place in other parts of the country," Pande said.

The plan for the bomb blasts in Ahmedabad was worked out at a training camp held by SIMI leader Safdar Nagori in Halol taluka of Vadodara in January 2008, Joint Police Commissioner (Ahmedabad crime branch) Ashish Bhatia said.

Investigators say Indian Mujahideen is SIMI, V2.0

Nagori was arrested by Madhya Pradesh police in March 2008.

According to Bhatia, a series of meetings were held to plan the bomb blasts in the city in the month of April, May and June, while the final meeting was held on July 20, in the city.

Abu Bashir and other suspects arrested by the police were present in all these meetings where they designed the strategy for execution of their masterplan, Bhatia said, who is also heading the investigations into the serial blasts.

During the meetings, the suspects had planned details of how, when and where the blasts will occur and also assigned specific duties to each person, he added.

'The blasts are a proclamation by terrorists'

"Their strategy was to place small explosives in different places to create panic among people. And then have a powerful explosion at a hospital, where all those injured in the small explosions would be rushing to. So they targeted the city civil hospital," Bhatia said.

The details of the planning were divulged by nine persons arrested by the police, including four from Vadodara and five from Ahmedabad, he added.
The nine persons arrested are - Jahid Sheikh, Yunus Mansuri, Shamsuddin Sheikh, Arif Kadri, Gyasuddin, Imran, Usman Agarbattiwala, Iqbal Sheikh and Sajid Mansuri -- all in the age group of 20-25, police said.

Pande said that the same persons were involved in planting bombs in Surat [Images]. Nearly two dozens of live bombs were planted in Surat city, which were defused.

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