Investigators are set to match the DNA of Indian Mujahideen operative Yasin Ahmed Siddibappa alias Yasin Bhatkal with the DNA on strands of hair recovered from a defused bomb to establish his role in the 2010 serial blasts at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore.
Fifteen people were injured, five of them critically, in the blasts that took place at the stadium just hours before an IPL cricket match between the Mumbai Indians and the Royal Challengers Bangalore. While two bombs exploded, three were found and defused.
Investigators have already obtained a DNA match between one accused in the case, Qateel Ahmed Siddiqui, and the strands of hair found in one of the defused bombs. However, the Bangalore police investigations in the case received a setback as Siddiqui was killed in June 2012 in a fight in the Yerawada prison in Pune.
With the Bangalore police finally getting Yasin’s custody on January 17, the investigation process is set to be back on track again.
Sources familiar with the investigation said Yasin’s blood samples would be obtained to conduct tests for DNA matches with the strands of hair recovered during the police panchanama process done immediately after the failed bombs were found on April 17 and April 18, 2010.
The 32-year-old terror suspect is currently being interrogated at an undisclosed location in the city.
As part of the investigation process since obtaining his custody, the police are trying to find conclusive, independent evidence to link Yasin to the stadium blasts.
So far, the police have statements of several accused linking Yasin to the attack and are looking for independent corroborative evidence, including witnesses who could testify during trial to Yasin’s participation in the planning and the blasts at the stadium.
Over the next few days, Yasin is likely to be taken to different parts of the country to establish the source points of much of the logistics which he handled personally in preparations for the blasts. Police are hoping for Yasin’s co-operation in identifying the people and places from where he obtained the timers, the explosives and other raw material used for making the bombs as well as those who helped him rent a house in Tumkur to prepare for the blasts.
One key source of technical, independent evidence obtained in the case so far were the strands of hair found stuck to the packages in which the three failed bombs were placed. One round of DNA tests were conducted to match these strands of hair to three men, who were known to be a part of the stadium blast operation along with Yasin. The three — Qateel Ahmed Siddiqui, Gayur Ahmad Jamali and Aftab Alam, all residents of Dharbanga in Bihar — were arrested in November 2011 by the Delhi Police Special Cell.
Their interrogation by the Bangalore police, documented in a July 2012 chargesheet filed in the stadium case, revealed that they carried out the Chinnaswamy Stadium blasts under the leadership of Yasin. Following this, their blood samples were obtained with the permission of a magistrate’s court to conduct DNA matches while they were in the custody of the Bangalore police in 2012. The DNA tests provided a match between samples obtained from Siddiqui and the hair strands.
According to the chargesheet filed by the Bangalore police in the stadium blast case: “The DNA profile of the sample blood collected and sent in Item No 2 from Sri Mohammed Qateel Siddiqui the alleles in 15 STR loci were identical and matching in all the 15 STR loci with that of the hair sent in item No 1.’’ This, the police stated, was evidence to link Siddiqui to the stadium bombs.
Siddiqui told the police at the time that he assembled the five bombs along with Yasin at their Tumkur hideout.
The police are now dependent on leads that will come from Yasin, the alleged chief perpetrator of the blasts, to build a strong case against the eight persons who are accused in the case, including Indian Mujahideen founder Riyaz Bhatkal. During preliminary interrogation, Yasin has told investigators that he carried out the blasts at the instance of the Pakistan-based Riyaz.