The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has released video footage of a person suspected to have planted a bomb on December 28, 2014 at Church Street in Bengaluru. The blast led to the death of a 38-year-old woman from Chennai who was dining out with her family.
In an effort to gather clues regarding the suspect, the NIA studied cameras located all around Church Street and MG Road in Bengaluru and mapped the suspect’s movement in the run-up to the blast. The NIA has now sought help from the public in identifying the suspect and has announced a reward of Rs 5 lakh for information leading to the suspect’s arrest.
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In the video footage, the suspect is seen entering Church Street from the Empire Hotel corner with a bag on his shoulder. He is also seen at other establishments walking briskly with a plastic packet in his hand. The footage shows the suspect, a lanky individual, wearing a light coloured baseball cap, and a white bandana around his neck. Forensic analysis of the blast scene showed that an IED wrapped in cloth and a Telugu paper, placed inside black plastic cover, had exploded outside the Coconut Groove restaurant at Church Street. The NIA has now come to the conclusion that the suspect walked around Church Street thrice before planting the device at Coconut Groove.
The suspect is captured walking up to the metro station across M G Road, before returning to Church Street to plant the device. Investigators believe that the device was initially carried in the shoulder bag before being removed and placed on the street.
In January 2015, The Indian Express had reported that the Bengaluru Police were studying some of the images, which have been now released by the NIA.
While CCTV footage from outside the Empire Hotel had helped police isolate a single suspect in January 2015 itself, the police had refused to make the images public until it was well established that the person caught on camera was the real suspect.
The needle of suspicion in the blast has so far pointed to five SIMI-linked fugitives, who escaped from the Khandwa prison in October 2013 and are suspected to be behind a series of blasts and bank robberies across India since early 2014. Probe has revealed that the Church Street bomb was identical to bombs that have been planted in Chennai, Pune, Rourkee and Patna since October 2013.
A team of experts from the NSG’s bomb data centre that visited Bengaluru reported that the Church Street device was similar to IEDs used by SIMI/IM operatives for blasts at a Narendra Modi rally in Patna on October 27, 2013.