Widening its probe into the serial bomb blasts in Patna and Bodhgaya,the National Investigation Agency (NIA) will seek the custody of SIMI member Umer Siddiqui,arrested last month in Raipur by the Chhattisgarh police. The move comes shortly after the Raipur police claimed that a SIMI group led by Umer carried out the serial blasts while the NIA claimed to have identified a different set of accused led by Samastipur native Tahseen Akhtar and Hyder Ali.
The agency,however,said it needed to probe Umers role to know the whereabouts of Ali and Akhtar,who have been declared absconders. The NIA claimed Umer gave shelter to Ali,who was on the run after the Patna serial blasts in October. Umer reportedly told his interrogators that Ali was working on his instructions. The family of Umer has denied the police claims.
The revelations by Chhattisgarh police regarding the role of SIMI have not only dented the claims of security agencies but also indicated the emergence of splinter SIMI groups. The NIA had initially identified Numan Ansari,Taufeeq Ansari and Mojibullah,all residents of Jharkhand,as the persons behind the Patna blasts. A preliminary probe also revealed that Umer,a known SIMI operative,was on the radar of the Raipur police for the past three years and used to communicate with Ali and Akhtar using different mobile handsets and SIM cards.
The NIA also suspects that Indian Mujahideen (IM) has now set up SIMI splinter groups for backend support with the help of Ranchi-based SIMI operative Mohd Manzar Imam,who was arrested March this year. The agency also plans to quiz Umer regarding Pakistan-based IM chief Riyaz Bhatkal,who is learnt to have opened chat accounts to give instructions to his cadres.
Sources also said that IM operative Imtiaz Ansari,who was nabbed at the spot after the Patna blasts,had not given any leads on the Raipur SIMI group and claimed that he was acting on the instructions of Hyder Ali. Umer,the NIA claimed,had also not figured in investigations of either the Bodhgaya or Patna blasts. The agency said that the bombs seized from a lodge in Ranchi were similar to the ones used in Patna and the timers were similar to the ones used in Bodhgaya. But it is not clear who procured the timers and explosives.