13/7 Mumbai blasts case cracked, 2 from Bihar arrested: ATS
Maharashtra ATS on Monday claimed to have made a major breakthrough in the July 13 triple blasts in the city last year that claimed 27 lives, with the arrest of two of the accused hailing from Bihar.
Naqi Ahmed Wasi Ahmed Sheikh (22) and Nadeem Akhtar Ashfaq Sheikh (23) were arrested on January 12 but the mastermind of the crime Yasin Bhatkal, a top Indian Mujahideen operative, and the planters of the IEDs used in the blasts are still evading arrest, Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Rakesh Maria told reporters.
Maria said while Naqi came to Mumbai in September 2010, Nadeem, his co-villager, from Bihar's Darbhanga district, was living in Antop Hill area of the city.
Naqi, according to Maria, came in touch with Ahmed Zarar Siddibappa alias Yasin Bhatkal alias Imran in 2008.
He said Nadeem was called to Delhi by Bhatkal and handed over a cloth packet containing the explosive and detonators used in the blast that was handed over to Naqi.
Naqi, he said, was given Rs 1.5 lakh by Bhatkal as commission for the crime in which at least Rs 10 lakh, received through hawala channels, was used. He said Naqi and Nadeem had stolen two Activa scooters that were used for carrying out the explosions. Two motorcycles also stolen by them and kept for future use have also been recovered from Bihar.
Rubbishing media reports that Naqi was innocent and that he was being tortured in police custody, Maria said he was aware of Bhatkal antecedents.
Naqi not only assisted Bhatkal in scouting for an apartment in Habib Building in Byculla but also paid the money for accommodation, the ATS chief said.
Maria said while Bhatkal and two others, who had planted the explosives and whose names he refused to divulge lest it would hamper investigations, were eluding the police dragnet, another accused in the case--Haroon Rashid Naik--had already been arrested by ATS in a counterfeit currency case.
Naik, he said, had been arrested in August last year and ATS would on Monday seek a transfer warrant for him from the court. "We need the custody of Naik from Mumbra for investigation of economic trail and conspiracy in the case," he said.
Maria trashed media reports that Bhatkal was in the city for several months after the blasts and that he was to visit the landlady of the Byculla apartment when he got the whiff of impending action by Mumbai police due to lack of coordination between Delhi police's special cell and Maharashtra ATS and escaped.