The small mistake of using a lost mobile phone is what led the police to the first suspect in the April 17 blast outside the BJP office here,within five days of the incident,helping it unravel the whole case.
The police were able to trace the IMEI number of the phone,and link it to the accused,who used the phone before and after the blast.
The Bangalore police revealed this recently in a detailed account provided to the Karnataka High Court on the progress of its investigation. The blast had left 16 people injured. The police are now also checking whether the attack had any links with the February 21 twin blasts in Hyderabad that killed 17 people.
The story of how the police got on the trail of the alleged suspects begins with the purchase of a blue Suzuki Max 100 R motorcycle by them,which was used to plant the IED. After the blast,using the motorcycles chassis number 1108F001568 and engine number 1108M05647,the police contacted the vehicle manufacturers and through them reached the first owner of the motorcycle,R Prakash,a resident of New Perungaulthur near Chennai.
From Prakash the police learned that the motorcycle had been bought on April 15,two days before the blast,for Rs 7,300 by two men who identified themselves as Anwar Basha and M Raza. They came through a Vellore-based auto consultant. While buying the motorcycle,Anwar and Raza gave their contact number as 7708484043.
When the police tried to track down the duo through that number,they found that the SIM card had been bought by a Tirunelveli resident,Maheshwaran Pillai,and was being used by his son Rajesh Nair. However,Nair told them he had lost his cellphone and the SIM card on February 12 (he didnt block the number).
At this point,the police who were analysing all the technical data connected to the 7708484043 number and the unique IMEI signature 356675000594410 of the lost mobile phone had a breakthrough. They found that on the lost mobile phone with that IMEI,a second SIM card with the number 9626489934 had been used on a few occasions. This number was found to belong to a resident of Palayamkottai in Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu,identified as Basheer.
They later discovered that this number was used on the same phone,both before the purchase of the motorcycle used in the Bangalore blast and after it. Hence the complicity of Basheer in the case was established, the police informed the court.
When the police nabbed Basheer,he revealed that he had got the lost mobile phone from one Wahid at the instance of Kichan Bukhari,a former member of the banned Tamil Nadu terror outfit Al Umma convicted in the 1998 Coimbatore blasts case.
Basheer in turn provided the phone to Panna Ismail,another former Al Umma member convicted in the Coimbatore blasts case. Ismail remains missing. According to the police,Ismail was paid Rs 50,000 by Bukhari to carry out the Bangalore attack.
According to documents placed in court,police believe the two persons who identified themselves as Anwar Basha and M Raza to buy the motorcycle were actually Fakruddin and Bilal Mallik. They allegedly handed over the motorcycle to Ismail who,the police say,planted the bomb in the vicinity of the BJP office along with one more accused.
Basheers call records have allegedly revealed that he received a call in Tamil Nadu from a Karnataka number,9980187434,on the day of the blast and the next day. This led the police to a Bangalore resident,Peer Mohideen,hailing from Tirunelveli.
Apart from Mohideen and former Al Umma member Bukhari,11 have been arrested in the case so far. Several of the key accused are still at large.
Police are also trying to identify the source of the nearly 2 kg power gel explosive used in the blast and the makers of the device. Investigations have revealed that an 8 kg cache of power gel was obtained from near Chennai,allegedly by some of the key suspects a few months previous to the blast.
One line of investigation is exploring whether some of that power gel was used in the February 21 twin blasts in Hyderabad. It is not clear whether this group was involved in any way with the Hyderabad blasts. There is a suspicion because of the similarity in explosives and aspects of modus operandi, a source said. The NIA has narrowed the suspects down to the Indian Mujahideen in the Hyderabad blasts. The IM is the joker in the pack in this case too, police sources said.
Those arrested so far are only the footsoldiers,there are other bigger fish involved. This is going to be a long-drawn probe, an official said.