The arrest of three key IM operatives who used an apartment in Mangalore as a base to carry out the February 21 blasts in Hyderabad’s Dilsukhnagar that killed 18 people, has trig-gered a search for the coastal Karnataka supplier of the explosives used in the blasts.
Two of the accused, Asadu-llah Akhtar and Zia-ur-Rehman alias Waqas, a Pakistan national, who were at the forefront of the preparation for the blast have, however, provided contradictory versions, each claiming to be the one to collect the explosives on the directions of Riyaz Bhatkal.
Asadullah Akhtar alias Haddi, who was arrested along with key IM operative Yasin Bhatkal in August 2013, has claimed it was he who collected the explosives in Mangalore region to prepare the IEDs.
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Following the arrest of Waqas and Tahseen Akhtar alias Monu, it emerged that it was probably Waqas who received the consignment.
Based on the information provided by Haddi, Waqas and Monu, investigating agencies have been attempting to find the IM’s supplier of explosives from the coastal Karnataka district regions of Mangalore and Udupi.
Over the past month, over 14,000 kg of illegal stocks of ammonium nitrate explosives were seized in the coastal Karnataka region, with the largest consignment being linked to a godown in Karkala linked to a trader Biju Thomas who has been questioned in the past as well as a possible conduit for the supply to the IM.
Police sources said Tho-mas had been subjected to surveillance in 2008 after he was suspected to be a source for the July 2008 Bangalore blasts explosives, but he emerged clean.
The NIA and police in Udupi, prior to the seizure of the 14,000 kg of ammonium nitrate and detonators, questioned Thomas again. Incidentally, prior to the Dilsukhnagar case, the Udupi region emerged as a key source of supply of explosives for the IM.
According to the NIA’s findings in the Dilsukhnagar case it was IM founder Riyaz Bhatkal who directed Asadullah Akhtar and Waqas to the source of supply of explosives.
“The main operative of the module Riyaz Bhatkal directed his associates Asadullah Akhtar, Waqas to find shelter in Mangalore to be used as a hide out for receiving explosive materials,” the NIA said in an official statement last month.
“After receiving explosive materials sent by Riyaz Bhatkal through an unknown person and the money sent by him through Hawala and other money transfer channels, Asadullah Akhtar and Waqas reached Hyderabad and started working with Tahseen Akhthar alias Monu, who had already reached Hyderabad,” the NIA said.
According to the NIA the IM group conducted a test blast in a hillock near the Abdullapurmet in Hyderabad. “Materials in the form of remnants of the exploded bomb have been recovered from the test blast site and brought as evidence,” the NIA has stated.