A day after three men from Uttar Pradesh were held in Pipariya in Hoshangabad for allegedly placing an improvised explosive device (IED) that exploded on board the Bhopal-Ujjain passenger train, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said the men were inspired by the Islamic State and had shared a photograph of the bag containing the explosive with a handler based in Syria.
Ten persons were injured in the explosion in the general coach of the passenger train at 9.42 am Tuesday. Within hours, three men — Uttar Pradesh police later identified them as Atif Muzaffar alias Al Kasim, Danish Akhtar alias Jaffar (both from Kanpur) and Syed Mir Hussain alias Humza of Aligarh — were held as they stepped off a bus near Pipariya and their questioning revealed the locations of other suspects in Kanpur and Lucknow. This information was shared with central intelligence agencies which, in turn, alerted UP police.
The three held in Kanpur were named as Mohammad Faisal Khan and Mohammad Imran alias Bhai (brothers from Kanpur) and Fakre Alam alias Rishu of Etawah. Mohammad Saifurullah alias Ali, holed up in a house in Haji Colony on the outskirts of Lucknow, was killed in the early hours of Wednesday by ATS personnel.
Making statements inside and outside the Madhya Pradesh Assembly that is in session, Chief Minister Chouhan described Atif Muzaffar alias Al Kasim as the mastermind of the explosion.
“We have proof that the explosion was carried out by ISIS-inspired operatives,’’ Chouhan said. The men, he said, shared a photograph of the bag, containing the pipe bomb and kept on the luggage rack, with a handler in Syria. He said material seized from the explosion site also had the Islamic State signature.
Chouhan said the three operatives reached Bhopal on Tuesday morning from Lucknow by the Pushpak Express and boarded a Pipariya-bound bus after planting the IED in the Bhopal-Ujjain Express. From Pipariya, they had planned to head back to Lucknow via Jabalpur and Allahabad.
While he did not specify the input that led to the anti-terror sweep, the Chief Minister said coordination between central agencies, MP police and MP ATS ensured that the suspects were taken into custody within hours of the explosion. He claimed that they had admitted to their involvement and more information had been shared with central agencies.
The ISIS operatives, he said, learnt bomb-making from the Internet. He told the Assembly that an FIR has been lodged at the Ujjain GRP Station against unknown persons under sections 3 and 4 of The Explosive Substances Act, 1908.
A senior officer involved in the arrest of the three suspects at Pipariya told The Indian Express that there was a possibility of “one more accomplice”. He said it was not clear if the fourth person travelled with the three men or stayed back.
“Attempts have been made in the recent past to create terror incidents in Madhya Pradesh but we have foiled the plans. My government will not let such elements proliferate in the state,’’ Chouhan said. He also credited Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the coordination between central and state agencies. The Opposition Congress, however, criticised the Chief Minister for making a political statement.