While the six SIMI operatives wanted in the 2014 Bijnor blast case have been killed in police encounters, the National investigation Agency (NIA), which is set to file a closure report in the case, is yet to confirm whether the deceased were indeed the same SIMI men, whom the Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh ATS have already identified as the accused.
The NIA, which has been probing the case since 2015, is now awaiting a forensic laboratory report in regard to the CCTV footage that allegedly had showed the six terrorists fleeing their rented accommodation after the blast in Bijnor city on September 12, 2014.
While the MP and UP ATS have claimed that photographs of the six have matched the CCTV footage, NIA has sent the photographs and the video grabs to a forensic lab for tests. “We had sent the CCTV grabs collected from Bijnor police and photographs obtained from Madhya Pradesh ATS to the forensic laboratory to get it verified that those who were seen fleeing after the blast in the footages were the SIMI men. The report is awaited,” said an NIA officer.
Though NIA is set to file a closure report in the case, as none of the six are alive to face court proceedings, the lab findings will affect the five other accused in the case. The five, including a woman, belong to Bijnor city and face the charge of providing shelter and logistic help to the SIMI operatives. They are all lodged in the Lucknow District Jail.
Following the blast, UP ATS had arrested Husna, her brother Nadeem, Raees, his son Abdullah and Furqan and claimed to have recovered around Rs 9 lakh from them, which they had reportedly received from the SIMI operatives. The trial against them has begun and statement of one prosecution witness recorded.
Five of the six SIMI men had escaped from Khandwa District Jail in Madhya Pradesh in 2013 and allegedly stayed in Bijnor in two rented houses while posing as Hindus. In the blast, accused Sheikh Mehboob had sustained injuries on the face and hands. His associates had taken him to a clinic at a nearby market. The CCTV camera installed outside the clinic and at other shops in the market had captured the movement of the six perpetrators.
After the blast, police had recovered several items, including a large quantity of matchsticks, explosives, half-assembled bombs, a laptop, a .32 bore pistol, three voter ID cards bearing Hindu names and two Urdu books.
Among the six SIMI men, while Mohammad Aizazuddin and Mohammad Aslam were killed in a police encounter in Telangana in April 2015, Sheikh Mehboob alias Guddu alias Malik, Amzad alias Pappu alias Daud, Zakir Hussain alias Sadiq and Mohammad Salik alias Sallu were killed in a police encounter in Madhya Pradesh in October, last year. Besides Mohammad Salik, others had escaped from Khandwa jail in 2013.