The Delhi Police Sunday claimed to have averted a “major terror attack” with the arrest of four alleged operatives of the banned terrorist organisation Indian Mujahideen, including much-wanted Pakistani national Zia-Ur-Rehman alias Waqas. The three others arrested with him are members of the Rajasthan module of the IM, police said.
Waqas, an alleged IM bombmaker and aide of Yasin Bhatkal who has long evaded arrest, is believed to have been involved in terror attacks in Mumbai, Varanasi, Pune, Hyderabad and the Delhi Jama Masjid blast. Police detained two other men from Delhi’s Jamia Nagar area on Sunday, but they were released late evening.
Although there was no official confirmation, officials believe the group may have been planning to disrupt the forthcoming elections.
At a press conference here, police said they had held Waqas from outside the Ajmer railway station on Saturday morning following a tip-off. On his revelations, his alleged associates Mohammed Mahruf (21), Mohammed Waqar Azhar (21) and Shaquib Ansari (25) were arrested from Jodhpur and Jaipur in the wee hours of Sunday, with help of the Rajasthan Police.
Mahruf and Azhar, who were arrested from their Jaipur residences, are engineering students while Ansari runs a computer institute in Jodhpur. A huge cache of explosives was reportedly recovered from the residences of the three.
S N Shrivastava, Special Commissioner of Police (Special Cell), said police had been following several leads from the interrogation of Yasin Bhatkal, who was arrested last year. “On March 21, we learnt that Waqas would be coming to Rajasthan to meet his associates. We dispatched a team to Ajmer and arrested Waqas.”
Hailing from Pakistan’s Punjab, Waqas is alleged to have entered the country in 2010 from Kathmandu on the instructions of IM founder Riyaz Bhatkal. Police said Waqas had gone underground since Yasin Bhatkal’s arrest and stayed in Orissa, West Bengal, Kerala, Mumbai and Karnataka. On Friday, he took a train from Bandra in Mumbai and got down at Ajmer.
Officials said Mahruf, Azhar and Ansari were trained as IED experts. Mahruf is a student of the Vivekananda Institute of Technology in Jaipur while Azhar is pursuing his engineering from Global Institute of Technology in Sitapur, Jaipur.
Shrivastava added that while Waqas had been brought to Delhi, the three others arrested would be arriving by Sunday night, after which their interrogation would begin. “We have got a case registered under the explosives Act in Rajasthan. The explosives which were seized and handed over to the Rajasthan Police are huge and suggest they were planning a major strike.”
Shrivastava added, “Any important event like the elections could be a target. We cannot confirm it at this point.”
Bhatkal has talked about an IM plan to eliminate Modi in the past. Asked about this, Shrivastava said it was too early to conclude anything.
Among explosives allegedly recovered from Mahruf, Azhar and Ansari were 10 watches, two detonators, half a kilogram of ball bearings in two plastic bottles, 10 batteries, 100 grams of nails, about a kilogram of Magnesium Sulphate, 250 grams of a silver-coloured explosive, and two complete circuits.