ibnlive » India

Jul 26, 2011 at 06:13pm IST

Nepal Police detain one in Mumbai blasts case

New Delhi: The Nepal Police have detained a 40-year-old man, Mohammad Zahir, under the suspicion that he was in touch with the Mumbai blasts suspects.

He was heard having conversations about the Mumbai blasts and has sent text messages, sources said.

The Union Home Ministry has received the input regarding Zahir's detention from the Government of Nepal on Tuesday.

Sources said, Zahir is a resident of Sarlahi district near the Indian border and was living in an upmarket area of Nepal, close to the house of Nepal Prime Minister.

Terror struck Mumbai on July 13 when three bomb blasts rocked some of the most crowded places of the city. The first blast took place at 6:54 PM at south Mumbai's crowded Zaveri Bazaar. Within a few minutes Opera House and Dadar, too, were hit by powerful explosions.

A total of 129 persons were injured in the blasts while 24 have lost their lives till now.

The probe has taken a nationwide character with teams panning out to Ajmer, Kolkata, Kishengarh and Hyderabad.

The National Investigative Agency (NIA) and Anti Terror Squads have spread across cities interrogating jailed Indian Mujahideen suspects to see if they can shed light on the plot and the bombers.

It's now a well coordinated but discreet nationwide investigation - with information, leads and questioning coming in from 10 different states - with the National Investigating Agency spearheading the probe.

Gujarat seems to be the information funnel and the key seems to be Ahmedabad blasts accused Danish Manzar. He is currently being questioned in jail and has provided a bulk of the background information.

Danish has revealed that there is large scale recruitment of youngsters being done by the Indian Mujahideen from Jharkhand.

On July 17, an alleged HUJI operative Riazul Sarkar was arrested at Kishenganj in Bihar is being jointly interrogated by the intelligence and NIA.

Besides fresh detentions and arrests, several alleged terror operatives in custody of state forces are also being questioned.

A team of NIA reached Ajmer in Rajasthan. Jalees Ansari convicted for supplying explosives for 1993 Mumbai blasts has been questioned. Ansari was caught with a cell phone inside the jail in 2010. He had called Pakistan, Bangladesh and some countries in the Gulf.

Besides scanning list of all train passengers between Kolkata and Mumbai 8 days prior to the blast, an IM operative Haroon was questioned in Kolkata's Alipur Jail on a tip-off from Gujarat ATS.

Haroon has been questioned in Kolkata over his links to jailed Indian Mujahideen operative Danish Riaz, a key accused in the 2008 Ahmedabad blasts.

Haroon is being interrogated after intelligence from Gujarat Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS). He reportedly talked about short-listing men for training in one of the e-mails he exchanged with Riaz.

In Ajmer a National Investigating Agency (NIA) team questioned 1993 Mumbai blasts convict Jalees Ansari on Sunday and in Bihar, police have lodged a case against Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI) operative Riyaul Sarkar in Kishanganj.

Police are now looking at questioning a key member of the Indian Mujahideen to determine the exact sequence of events. There's also the possibility that the triple blasts could have roots in at least eight states outside of Maharashtra.

The police still believe that Danish is the key in establishing what happened on July 13 in Mumbai. Danish's questioning so far has only expanded the investigation across many states and a couple of specifics with the NIA and ATS which suggest that he knew an alleged operative - Abdus Tauqeer - who is a suspect in many blasts across India.

Tauqeer had been escorted by Danish to the Nepal border in December 2008 and could know more about Mumbai blasts. He has met and worked with another suspect Manzar, who the Mumbai ATS believes could also be part of the triple blasts plan.

Danish belongs to Jharkhand and had worked as a software engineer in Hyderabad before he was charged with the 2008 serial blasts in Ahmedabad. Though Ahmedabad Crime Branch remain unconvinced about his role in Mumbai blasts, sources say he has confirmed that Manzar worked with him to raise funds for the Indian Mujahideen.

Danish is being treated as a mine of information on the Indian Mujahideen network even as Mumbai ATS believes he is key to establishing whether the shadowy outfit has a role in Mumbai blasts or not.

Danish has named four more specific alleged operatives - Haseeb Raza, Razeek, Abul Faisal and Mujeeb Shaikh. Faisal and Shaikh are already in the custody of Madhya Pradesh Police. The NIA AND ATS are now re-examining 10 mailing ids he used to stay in touch with others.

The ones used most extensively include: hydanish@yahoo.com, hydanish@rediffmail.com, hydanish@gmail.com and hydanish@hotmail.com.

He was constantly in touch with Mujeeb on the id Sheikh@gmail.com with their mails having several references to Manzar. Manzar is the one Mumbai ATS are keenly looking for in connection with the July 13 blasts.

While Danish's role in Mumbai blasts has still not been established, police sources say he has revealed many details on changing dynamics within the Indian Mujahideen and how the outfit was short of funds after 2008. Sources say he also said that some Indian Mujahideen operatives even resorted to robberies, extortion and abductions to collect funds.

But what is certain is that the links of Mumbai's triple blasts have roots within at least eight states outside of Maharashtra.