At least six bombers,working in three teams of two people each,carried out the serial blasts in Patna,police said on Monday. Police named Tehseen Akhtar alias Monu and Waqas said to be aides of Indian Mujahideen (IM) co-founder Yasin Bhatkal as the main conspirators behind the attack.
Seven bombs went off between 11.40 am and 12.45 pm on Sunday the first at Patna railway stations platform 10,and the rest in and around Gandhi Maidan where Narendra Modiwas scheduled to speak shortly afterward.
Two of the six suspects have been arrested. One of them,whom police identified as Tariq alias Anul,was injured in the railway station blast,and is fighting for his life at the Patna Medical College Hospital. The second suspect,whose name police gave as Mohammed Imtiaz,was arrested while allegedly trying to flee from the station.
Bombers reached Patna on Oct 27
Police named the other four suspects as Tehseen,Haider,Taufiq and Niman.
All the accused except Tehseen alias Monu came from Ranchi to Patna by bus on the morning of October 27, Patna senior superintendent of police Manu Maharaj said. They split up into three groups of two each.
According to police,Imtiaz,who was arrested by the Railway Protection Force after the battery bomb exploded injuring his partner Tariq alias Anul,had a piece of paper with seven mobile phone numbers on it. It was Imtiaz who provided police with all the initial leads. Police may consider flying Tariq to Delhi for treatment.
Tehseen and Haider were in the second team,and Taufiq and Niman in the third, SSP Maharaj said. By the time Anul and Imtiaz were arrested,their associates had planted pipe bombs at Gandhi Maidan. Maharaj said Imtiaz had told interrogators that their brief was to create panic and trigger a stampede.
Pipe bombs hidden in grass
Rajesh Chandra,additional director general of police,Special Branch,said the nine-inch pipe bombs were hidden in holes left behind in the grass by bamboo poles that were erected for a CPI rally on October 26. The bombs were fitted with timers,Chandra said.
The Bihar government on Monday wrote to the union home ministry asking that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) take over the probe. In the evening,teams of the NIA and Patna Police had reached Ranchi to continue the investigation.
The police were not able to specify what role Waqas had played in the bombings,beyond making the general assertion that his association with Tehseen made him a suspect too. Tehseen is from North Bihar,while Waqas is allegedly Pakistani. In September,Asadullah Akhtar Haddi who was arrested along with Yasin Bhatkal in Nepal led police to a flat in Mangalore which he said had been used by Tehseen,Waqas and him as a bomb factory.
Explosives,pressure cooker recovered
Following disclosures made by Imtiaz to police in Patna,Jharkhand Police on Sunday night raided a two-storey house in Sithio village in Ranchi and recovered a pressure cooker with electrical wires attached to it.
The IED was recovered from one of three rooms allegedly used by Imtiaz on the first floor of the building. One of the suspects is a relative of Imtiyaz’s,and lived in the same house,police sources said. Two of the other suspects including Tariq alias Anul too are residents of the village,the sources said.
About 225 g of a grey powder was found in the pressure cooker. We suspect it is ammonium nitrate. The circuit had been completed in the IED. I wouldnt call it a perfect bomb,but it could cause a low-intensity blast, additional director general of police S N Pradhan,spokesperson for the Jharkhand Police,said.
‘Three suspects are minors’
S B Singh,officer-in-charge of Dhurwa police station,whose personnel carried out the raid,said,The families of the suspects say they left home the day before yesterday. The families claim that at least three of the suspects are below 18 years of age.
Kamaluddin Ansari,Imtiazs father,said he had been given to believe that his son had gone to attend a wedding. I thought he had gone to one of two weddings that we had in our extended family over the past week. I asked my wife,but she did not know either, Ansari said.
Twenty-five-year-old Imtiaz is the fifth of six brothers,and the only one who is yet to be married. He used to keep to himself most of the time,and remained in his room, said the father.
Imtiaz passed Class 10,but did not complete his intermediate studies. He tried to do many things,but nothing worked out for him. His last attempt at working was in a sales job. The family has no farmland. Of late,he had taken to religion a lot and was always seen with books, a neighbour said.
Neither Imtiaz nor Tariq appeared to have had a criminal record.