The Delhi police Special Cell Monday announced the arrest of Abdul Subhan Qureshi, who was on the National Investigation Agency (NIA)’s wanted list and on the run for a decade.
The Delhi Police alleged Qureshi, also known as Touqeer, was responsible for carrying out the 2008 serial blasts in Ahmedabad and was the Indian Mujahideen (IM)’s signatory on emails after terror incidents. According to the Special Cell, Qureshi, who had once worked as a software engineer in Mumbai, was wanted by six states, and allegedly operated an Indian Mujahideen (IM) module that was involved in blasts across the country.
But the NIA, which investigated the IM and its members, has not mentioned Qureshi’s name in three chargesheets filed in the IM blast probes. The NIA has named Riyaz Bhatkal as having signed the IM emails.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Special Cell) P S Kushwaha said Qureshi was arrested from Ghazipur in east Delhi. “He was arrested by a Special Cell team after a brief shootout in Ghazipur,” he said.
Police sources said they had worked on a tip-off about a meeting in Ghazipur on Saturday night.
A team laid a trap and waited for more than an hour before nabbing Qureshi with a 9-mm pistol and five cartridges in a stolen white car.
Sources in the Special Cell said at least 14 shots were fired before Qureshi was arrested from an abandoned market in Ghazipur.
The NIA was mandated to register a general FIR in 2012 against absconding IM members and probe all blasts since 2006 including Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Surat, in Faizabad and Varanasi.
“It is possible that Subhan’s involvement in Ahmedabad blast cannot be investigated as he was ranked above the IM mastermind Riyaz, presently absconding. We will question him after taking him into custody,” a senior official told The Indian Express.
NIA officials said Qureshi was only named so far in connection with their probe in Wagamon SIMI camp in 2007.
A Red Corner Notice (RCN) was also issued against Qureshi by the Interpol based on an arrest warrant issued by an Ahmedabad metropolitan magistrate.
Qureshi is among the 38 people chargehseted for being a member of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and organising a training camp at Wagamon near Kerala. He is accused number 35 and carried a reward of Rs 4 lakhs declared by the NIA for attending the training camp.
According to a Delhi police statement, Qureshi was allegedly the mastermind of the Ahmedabad serial blasts in 2008, the 2008 Jaipur blasts and the 2007 blasts in Hyderabad. “The Uttar Pradesh police was also looking for him in connection with the 2006 blast in Varanasi,” said the police statement.
From Rampur in Madhya Pradesh Qureshi was allegedly a top leader of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). Delhi police said he was a suspected bomb-maker, who was involved in funding the IM.
According to Special Cell his name surfaced in the conspiracies and planning of blasts by IM in 2006, 2007 and 2008 in various parts of the country.
Beside a terror training camp investigation by NIA in Kerala, police said Qureshi was wanted in connection with terror related incidents in Bihar and Maharashtra. Sources said he was a suspected facilitator of explosives in the 2011 blasts in Maharastra.
Senior officers said Qureshi, while on the run, had skipped between Nepal, Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Middle East.