Days before Narendra Modi is sworn in as the new Prime Minister, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Wednesday claimed he was the main target of the Patna blasts last October, and said it had cracked the case with the arrest of four alleged SIMI members.
While three of the accused were identified as Hyder Ali, 25, alias “Black Beauty”, Mojibullah Ansari, 24, and Numan Ansari, 21, the fourth was reported to be a juvenile. Two of them were arrested on Tuesday, while the other two were held early on Wednesday. The NIA claimed the accused, allegedly a part of the SIMI’s “Ranchi module”, were also involved in the Bodh Gaya blasts.
Seven people were killed in the serial blasts in Patna at Gandhi Maidan, just hours ahead of Modi’s rally, and the railway station on October 27 last year.
“Those arrested had plans to target the rallies of the BJP’s PM candidate Narendra Modi and had conducted a recce of various places (where Modi was scheduled to hold rallies),” said NIA Director General Sharad Kumar at a press conference on Wednesday. The group reportedly decided to target the Patna rally because the security was lax.
The Bodh Gaya blasts were carried out to avenge the “atrocities on Rohingyas” in Myanmar, said Kumar.
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“We first arrested Ali and Mojibullah from near Ranchi. Their interrogation led to the arrest of the other two from Daltonganj in Jharkhand. Ali and Mojibullah initially tried to mislead the officials regarding the whereabouts of the other two, but broke down after sustained interrogation,” said Kumar, adding that NIA teams had been working on leads for the last three months.
Ali, referred to as “Black Beauty” in alleged chats between IM operatives due to his dark complexion, is reported to be the SIMI’s point person in coordinating with the IM. According to the NIA, a faction of the SIMI is trying to target right wing leaders and Modi remains their prime target.
A senior NIA official claimed that alleged SIMI ideologue Umer Siddiqui, who was arrested from Raipur in November last year, was the mastermind behind the Patna blasts. He said Ali was introduced to Umer Siddiqui by alleged SIMI operative Abu Faisal ‘Doctor’, who is currently in jail. He said Ali, who hails from Ranchi, attended several regional meeting of the SIMI and considered Umer his “amir”.
Ali, a graduate, is alleged to have procured explosives through his contacts in Mirzapur and Allahabad. His contacts have been identified as Fakruddin Ali and Mohd Ahmed in Mirzapur, and Mohd Raju and Anil Pandey in Allahabad. All the four were arrested by the NIA in February this year.
Both Mojibullah, a commerce graduate whose father works as a store manager in a Ranchi hospital, and Numan, an electrician whose father is a tailor, are also from Ranchi. Ali and Numan are alleged to have assembled the IEDs at the Iram Lodge in Ranchi, from where the NIA reportedly seized two dozen IEDs last November.
The NIA claimed the Patna and Bodh Gaya blasts revealed a SIMI-IM nexus, with IM leaders based in Pakistan using the SIMI cadres to carry out attacks. Investigators claimed Ali received funds through hawala channels and acted at the behest of foreign handlers. They, however, said they have not been able to identify Ali’s handlers and whether IM leader Riyaz Bhatkal was in touch with him or not.
“Their interrogation revealed plans to recruit young boys for their organisation from Jharkhand, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh with a view to target vital installations and important personalities,” said the NIA. Sources said more SIMI operatives are under the scanner for their alleged role in trying to revive the outfit with the IM’s help.