The Andhra Pradesh Police claimed to have solved the Bangalore BJP office blast case of April 17 with the arrest of two murder suspects and alleged members of the Islamic Liberation Force from a house in Puttur area of Chittoor district on Saturday,after a 10-hour-long operation.
Panna Isamail,38,and Bilal Malik,25,reportedly planted the bomb outside the BJP office,that left 16 people injured. The two,along with Fakhruddin,35,who was arrested on Friday in Chennai,had been named by the Bangalore police as the main accused in the blast.
Isamail and Malik are also wanted in the bid to attack L K Advanis convoy at Madurai in Tamil Nadu in 2011.
Suspected to be Islamist radicals with links to several terror outfits,they reportedly targeted leaders of Hindu organisations in Tamil Nadu. The Islamic Liberation Force was founded by Imam Ali of Madurai in Tamil Nadu. They are allegedly also a part of the proscribed Al Ummah,which was responsible for the 1998 Coimbatore blasts,again targeting Advani,that killed 58 people.
The arrests come ahead of BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modis planned visit to Chennai.
The operation by the Tamil Nadu Police and Andhra Pradeshs anti-terror unit Octopus started at 4 am in the town,located 60 km from the temple town of Tirumala-Tirupati,and ended with the arrests at 2 pm.
Police claimed to have seized small weapons and explosives from the Puttur house and said the duo may have been planning to target the Brahmotsavam celebrations at the Tirumala-Tirupati temple starting next week.
The duo were allegedly also involved in the murder of Tamil Nadu BJP general secretary V Ramesh on July 19 in Salem as well as the killing of Hindu Munnani Tamil Nadu state secretary N Vellaiyappan in Vellore on July 1. The Tamil Nadu Police had announced a reward of Rs 5 lakh for information on each of the three,Isamail,Malik and Fakhruddin.
T S Anbu,SP,Tamil Nadu CB-CID,who led the operation,said that when they tried to enter the Puttur house,they were attacked by Isamail and Malik and,in the confrontation,Constable Lakshman was stabbed. He is critical. Isamail was reportedly injured when an inspector opened fire in self-defence.
Officials said they proceeded cautiously as Maliks wife and three children (ages 5,3 and 2) were present in the house. Chittoor SP K R Tata said they first drilled holes in the roof of the house and dropped stun grenades and tear gas shells. This forced them to move to the front room of the house,where a negotiation team talked to them. First a girl came out,then two other children and a woman. The injured Isamail came out an hour later,followed by Malik. They were taken by the Tamil Nadu Police to Chennai, Tata said.
According to officials,Isamail and Malik,who are originally from Coimbatore,had been hiding in the house in Puttur known for its bone-setting clinics for the past six months. They pretended to be iron scrap merchants,and would allegedly venture into Tamil Nadu to conduct operations.
Tamil Nadu Additional DGP (Intelligence) Ashok Kumar said information about the Puttur hideout was given by Fakhruddin. Fakhruddin,who was allegedly involved in the attack on BJP leader Ramesh,reportedly told the police that Isamail and Malik had rented a house in Puttur and were living there with their wives.
Based on the information,the Tamil Nadu CB-CID team rushed to the spot and surrounded it. As the two suspects were presumed to be armed,help was sought of the Octopus unit.