Four days after an explosion occurred at a mosque at Bairagipatti village in Turqpatti police station area of UP’s Kushinagar district on Monday afternoon, a former Army Major and his grandfather — prime accused in the case — were arrested on Friday, taking the total number of arrests to six.
Main accused Qutubuddin Ansari and his grandson Dr Ashfaq, former Army Major (Medical Corps), had been on the run since the blast.
Ansari, a retired government official, was wanted for keeping explosives inside the mosque, which triggered the blast.
The police had arrested the mosque’s cleric, Maulana Azeemudin (28), who hails from West Bengal, and three local residents, Izhar, Aashiq and Javed, on Wednesday, for their alleged involvement in the incident. They were produced in a local court, which sent them to jail. On Thursday, the police obtained a permission to take them in its remand.
The four accused were taken in police custody for 48 hours starting Friday morning. The police are also searching for another local resident Munna who has also been named in the FIR lodged in the case.
Inspector General, Gorakhpur Range, Jai Narain Singh, said all six accused, including Ansari and Ashfaq, are presently being questioned.
Police said at first Azeemudin had informed police that Ansari had kept a bag containing explosives in the mosque.
“During questioning, however, Ansari denied keeping the explosives in the mosque. When Azeemudin was asked again during questioning, he changed his earlier statement and claimed he was not aware who brought the explosives to the mosque. Ansari and Azeemudin were also confronted, but nothing came out so far,” said a police officer who is part of the investigation.
UP Police also checked the antecedents of Azeemudin from West Bengal but did not find anything suspicious about him.
UP DGP Om Prakash Singh said it is too early to ascertain the motive behind the incident and that investigation is on.
The police are now waiting for forensic reports on the explosion fragments, which were picked up from the spot.
A police officer said Ashfaq was present at the mosque when the blast took place on Monday afternoon. The blast caused damage to the walls and glasses in the building.
“Dr Ashfaq retired from the post of Army Major (Medical Corps) two years back. He was last posted in Hyderabad,” said Kushinagar Superintendent of Police Vinod Kumar Mishra, adding that Ashfaq’s wife, who is also a doctor, is still in Indian Army and posted in Hyderabad.
When contacted, Bairagipatti village’s pradhan Sachidanand Tiwari said Ansari and his family shifted to Mau district long time back. “Ansari and Ashfaq used to visit the village twice a month to look after their ancestral properties. Ansari used to hold meetings with locals and youths from outside at his house.”
To be mentioned, on Monday afternoon, after a police team rushed to the village following the blast, initially, they were allegedly misguided by Azeemudin, claiming that it was an inverter battery explosion. The police found that battery was intact kept in a room.
Police have so far maintained that explosive substances kept inside a room in the mosque had exploded due to heat. So far, no one was found injured, police said.
Police added the cleric claimed that the bag containing explosives was hanged from a hook in the ceiling of the store room of the mosque. Izhar, Aashiq, Javed and Munna too were present when the bag was being suspended. They all were aware that the bag contained explosives, said police.
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