A pair of size 11 shoes, worn by 6-foot tall Pakistan origin Indian Mujahideen operative Zia-ur-Rehman alias Waqas, and sets of spare clothes abandoned by 5-foot tall Tehseen Akhtar alias Monu in a flat in Mangalore will serve as crucial evidence to prove that they used Mangalore as a base ahead of carrying out the February 21, 2013 twin blasts in Hyderabad’s Dilsukhnagar that left 17 people dead.
Investigating agencies who were led to the third floor rented apartment at Zephyr Heights in Mangalore in September last year by IM operative Asadullah Akhtar alias Haddi alias Tabrez, 26, shortly after he was arrested along with Yasin Bhatkal on the Bihar-Nepal border, found that Waqas who was alone in the flat then, escaped after Bhatkal’s arrest became public.
A search of the premises revealed that Waqas had left in a hurry, leaving behind evidence of experiments he was conducting with timer circuits and different bomb structures as well as clothes and shoes belonging to both him and Tehseen Akhtar who had been a resident there as well.
Investigators, following the arrest of Waqas and Monu, will look to deriving DNA evidence from the clothes and footwear that the duo abandoned while fleeing the Mangalore flat that served as a hideout for nearly a year for the IM operatives, sources said.
Forensic evidence in the form of hair found on clothing and other material at the flat during investigations in September 2013 will also be matched with DNA from Waqas and Monu to establish their presence at the flat.
Following the arrest of Haddi and Yasin Bhatkal last year, the NIA sought permission in a Delhi court to obtain DNA samples to ascertain their presence in places the IM used as hideouts.
The Zephyr Heights falt had been rented by Haddi who posed as an outstation student studying in Mangalore. Initially he shared the flat with Waqas and was joined by Tehseen Akhtar who was the leader of the module in the absence of Yasin Bhatkal.
According to accounts provided to investigators by Asadullah Akhtar following his arrest last year the Mangalore flat was used to prepare the basic mechanism for the bombs that were used in the February 2013 blasts in Hyderabad’s Dilsukhnagar.
While Monu travelled to Hyderabad well ahead of the date of the blasts to rent a place in Dilsukhnagar, Asadullah and Waqas travelled to Hyderabad with the bomb material a few days prior to the blasts. After the blasts, only Waqas returned to stay at the Mangalore flat while Monu came occasionally, the sources said.
When the police raided the flat, they also found 50 digital watches — several with wires connected to transform them into bomb timers, a few cell phones with wiring to enable their use as timers in bombs, three electrical detonators, about 125 gms of ammonium nitrate gel, fuel oil and a pocket book on bomb circuitry. They also found evidence that Waqas may have been experimenting with a magnetic bomb.
This find led investigators to believe that the Mangalore flat was being used an experiment site for Improvised Explosive Devices by Waqas and Monu in 2012-13.