MUMBAI: Two suspects have been arrested here for the July 13, 2011, serial blasts that killed 27 people and the custody of another suspect, held in a separate fake currency case, has been sought for the terror attack probe, Mumbai police said on Monday.
“Naqi Ahmed Vasi Ahmed Sheikh, 22, and Nadeem Akhtar Ashfaque Sheikh, 23, have been arrested from different areas of south-central Mumbai in connection with the case,” Mumbai police’s Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief Rakesh Maria told reporters here.
Claiming to have cracked the serial blasts that rocked Zaveri Bazar, Opera House and Dadar in south and central Mumbai in July last year, Maria said third suspect Haroon Rashid Naik, 33, was already behind bars in Mumbai.
“So, there would be technically three arrests and three (accused still) wanted in the case so far,” he said.
“Naqi is originally a resident of Darbhanga in Bihar, but had been in Mumbai since September-October 2010. Nadeem is from Deora Bandhauli, also in Darbhanga district, and has been staying in Mumbai since around the same time,” Maria said.
Maria said the main accused in the case, Yasin Bhatkal alias Imran, was still untraced. Bhatkal is known to be a prime operative of the Indian Mujahideen terror group.
“Yasin Bhatkal is the main accused in this case. He started the Darbhanga (terror) module where he held programmes to indoctrinate young boys and used them in such blasts,” Maria said.
Ahead of the serial blasts, Bhatkal had give Nadeem a cloth packet, containing the explosives and detonators, to hand it over to Naqi. Naqi passed on the packet to another suspect, the police officer said.
Bhatkal gave Naqi Rs.1.5 lakh to assist in the execution of the serial blasts, he said.
Naqi, whose association with Bhatkal dates back to 2008, also conducted a recce of the blast sites, he said.
The ATS chief said that two scooters were stolen by the suspects from Mumbai and these were used in the blast. “In addition to these two scooters, they had also stolen two motorcycles for future use. These two motorcycles were recovered from Darbhanga last year,” he said.
Maria said that the ATS recovered duplicate keys used to steal the scooters. “A helmet belonging to the original owner of the scooter has also been recovered at the instance of the accused,” he said.
“In the investigations conducted so far, we need Haroon Rashid Naik’s custody for investigation into the economical (financial) trail and the conspiracy in this case,” he added. Haroon was arrested last year in a counterfeit currency case.
A lot of stress and importance was given to tracing the financial trail of the serial blasts. “Where did the money come from, who sent it, who received it, and who helped get the money. We can now say that the financial trail of the blasts has been fully covered,” he said.
Maria said that Naqi was also a suspect in a SIM card fraud. “Naqi provided SIM cards to other accused which were used during the commission of the blasts,” he said.
The ATS chief also thanked all the central and state agencies which extended help to Mumbai police during investigation.
“Our teams visited 18 states and a lead was obtained by the ATS in last week of November,” he said, adding that a total of 12,373 witnesses were examined in the case.
The investigation was being conducted by teams of Mumbai police, Maharashtra’s criminal investigation department, the National Investigation Agency and others, with support from security agencies in many states, he said.
Three blasts at close intervals July 13 last year shook the country’s diamond and gold hubs – Opera House and Zaveri Bazar – and a busy commercial area of Dadar, killing at least 27 people and leaving around 125 injured.
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