Pune is again on the terror radar following the blast of an Improvised Explosive Device fitted on a motorcycle on the parking lot of Faraskhana and Vishrambaug police stations on July 10. Investigators are proceeding in the case. Some suspects from Pune have been arrested in connection with terror strikes earlier but many are still missing links.
The mystery of alleged terror operative Raheel Ataur Rehman Shaikh remains unsolved. A native of Naya Nagar Mumbai, Raheel Shaikh shifted to Kondhwa in Pune, and then to Dubai. He later emerged as the prime suspect in the Mumbai train blasts of July 11, 2006.
In 2008, Maharashtra police tried to contact UK authorities believing he was held in Birmingham on the basis of an Interpol Red Corner notice, and a recovery of a passport issued to him from Pune. In November 2008, Interpol contacted CBI seeking details of the notice against him. The CBI apparently contacted the state police for details. Soon, the state ATS started preparing documents required for Shaikh’s extradition.
Thereafter, nothing progressed. Shaikh is still on the list of wanted accused in terror cases. His photograph can be seen on a calendar released by police agencies carrying details of “wanted” terror suspects from Pune. The calendar mentions he was resident of a plush complex on NIBM Road, Kondhwa.
When Newsline visited the spot, no resident or security guard could identity him. He is believed to have got his passport on this Kondhwa address. KP Raghuvanshi, senior state police officer, who was chief of the ATS in 2008, said, “Through our central agencies we tried to get information about the suspect (Raheel Shaikh) from authorities in Britian. But there was no confirmation provided to us.”
An alleged operative of the Lashkar-e-Toiba and IM, Raheel Shaikh is suspected to be involved in terror activities and recruiting and training of Indian youths for terror strikes.
Police said Raheel’s younger brothers Faizal, an alleged LeT operative, and Muzammil, were arrested in the blast case. Investigators suspect that Raheel underwent terror training in Pakistan and may have got close to the absconding IM operatives like Bhatkal brothers.
He is wanted along with two more “wanted” terror suspects from Pune, Rizwan Mohammed Daware and Sohail Usman Gani Shaikh, in the 7/11 Mumbai train blasts. A software professional, Daware was resident of Paramanand Park in Wanavdi. His parents told Newsline that he worked in a private firm in Pune before leaving home on April 6, 2006 with his wife and four children.
“He went to Saudi Arabia and never returned or contacted us. We have been cooperating with police who approached us frequently,” his father said. Like Daware, his accomplice Sohail Shaikh of Pune Camp went to Saudi Arabia where he met Raheel Shaikh. The three were suspected have distributed Rs 3.6 lakh along with 80,200 Saudi Riyals to operatives in Pune and Mumbai through hawala channels, allegedly for carrying out the 7/11 Mumbai train blasts in which 187 persons were killed.