After a terror alert close on the heels of the recent terror attack at Bodh Gaya temple in Bihar,the Pune police machinery and intelligence agencies went into a flurry of activity on Saturday.
The cops got vague statements with specific mention of Dagdusheth Halwai Ganesh temple from a drunk and injured man on Saturday. The youth apparently backed off from his statements later,but investigating agencies were still probing his details thoroughly till reports last came in.
A staffer at Daund railway station spotting a youth identified as Imran Qureshi (24) of Washim,lying injured near the railway tracks,about 90 km from the city. After they were alerted,the railway police reached the spot and rushed Imran to a local hospital for treatment. At the hospital,Imran reportedly said that he was asked by a man named Shoaib to plant bags at the Dagdusheth Halwai Ganesh temple.
The statement left the railway cops stunned as the Ganesh temple is known to be a sensitive location,which is on the radar of terror outfits. Imran allegedly said that Shoaib had offered him money for planting the bags at the temple and other locations like railway station and a church in Pune.
The railway police rushed Imran to Sassoon hospital and informed the Pune police and apparently other establishments including the state Anti Terrorism Squad and intelligence agencies were also told about his statements.
Police officials said they had received a terror alert on the possibility of attacks on religious places in the city on July 13. An officer said that a detailed security audit of the Dagdusheth Ganesh temple was conducted on Friday in the wake of the alert.
An Indian Mujahideen (IM) module had been suspected of attempted to plant a bomb at Dagdusheth Ganesh temple on February 13,2010,the day German Bakery in Pune was bombed. The serial blasts at Bodhgaya temple in the early hours of July 7 also put the cops on alert.
Considering these,Pune city police deployed massive security around the Dagdusheth Ganesh temple and other strategic locations. A Quick Response Team (QRT),bomb detection and disposal squad (BDDS) was deployed near the temple. Roads going towards the temple were barricaded.
Weekly offs of many policemen were cancelled for security checks. Sleuths from different agencies questioned Imran at Sassoon hospital.
The youngster was working with a scrap dealer in Khadki area of Pune. We are verifying his statements. He is drunk. He is suffering from a head injury for which treatment is being given to him. The statements are vague. So it would be premature to comment whether his statements are true or not, said Sanjiv Latkar,DIG (ATS),at Sassoon hospital on Saturday morning.
Meanwhile,police conducted rigorous searches around the temple and across the city,but found nothing suspicious. The security arrangements were thus relaxed in the evening. Sources said Imran told the cops in the evening that he had given false statements.
A senior officer said that some details in his statements were very specific and would be verified thoroughly. Imran had reportedly told cops that a man named Shoaib had approached him at a small hotel in Khadki area a few days ago. Imran said that Shoaib offered him some Rs 20,000 for planting the bags.
Imran also said that he consumed liquor in Khadki. But he gave vague statements about how he got injured and reached Daund. Police are probing his background and why he gave ambiguous statements. An ATS team reportedly went to his house in Washim.
It was known that he was a school dropout working in Pune for the last four years with a scrap dealer. Police also questioned the scrap dealer and other persons in the city who know Imran. A probe is on to know how he got injured. It is suspected that he was hit with a glass bottle on the head. It is also being probed whether Shoaib is real or Imrans imaginary creation. All top police officials from Pune visited the temple premises on Saturday.
Flood of calls
Officers from the State ATS said that after posters with names and photos of suspects wanted in terror attacks were put up across the state,a large number of calls were received in which callers claimed having seen the persons. From none of the calls,concrete information has came out so far. But we appreciated people calling us, an officer said.
As security was stepped up around Dagdusheth Halwai temple and traffic was diverted on Shivaji Road and other spots,there were also rumours doing the rounds that a bomb had been found. There were traffic jams due to diversion of vehicles.
Pune city police had already informed about an alert in view of serial blasts at Bodh Gaya in Bihar on July 7 and that the Dagdusheth Halwai Ganesh temple was on the terror list. Traders and residents in the area were told to decongest roads to keep the area clear.