The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Andhra on VIP attack alert
Shahi Rafzani

Hyderabad, Sept. 2: Andhra Pradesh police have been tipped about a possible terror attack on an “important personality” and have stepped up the security of lawmakers, ministers and bureaucrats.

“Interrogation of suspects at Lucknow and Hyderabad jails, as well as narco-analysis tests on them, have led us to believe that terrorists are planning more strikes,” a senior officer said.

The police suspect that some 10kg of RDX was smuggled into Hyderabad and its neighbourhood in recent months, possibly from Bangladesh, but only 2kg of it has been used. The lone RDX blast in the city took place at Mecca Masjid, where four bombs were planted but only one exploded.

“Some 8kg RDX is loose somewhere,” the officer said. “We have spread the search to Bangalore, Pune, Aurangabad and Tamil Nadu.”

After the tip-off came yesterday, the police brass held discussions with CBI director Vijay Shankar and intensified searches and security at important installations and public places.

Gift-wrapped bomb

Investigators say that at least a dozen local young men and women, riding motorbikes or auto-rickshaws, had planted the ammonium nitrate-based Neogel bombs used in the August 25 strikes.

Two went off at Lumbini Park and one at Gokul Chat Bhandar, killing over 40 people. Nearly two dozen others — found at theatres, bus stops and road junctions and under footbridges and public taps — did not explode.

One of the bombs was left in a home guard’s hands, the officer revealed. “The home guard had stopped a motorbike rider for not possessing a driving licence. He left his vehicle and a gift-wrapped bomb in the home guard’s hands,” he said.

“The architects of the blast may have been outsiders, but the foot soldiers were local youth. An army of them left the bombs at the designated spots just after dusk.”

Explosives experts believe that the bombs, attached to alarm clock timers, were assembled just an hour before the twin blasts took place at 7.45pm and 7.50pm.

SIM cards

Medical student Shahi Rafzani, the Bangladeshi blast suspect taken into custody last night, possessed three SIM cards, one of which stored 33 Bangladeshi and Pakistani numbers, the police said.

All the other documents she possessed — credit cards, PAN cards, a ration card and a driving licence, all obtained illegally — had different addresses, the officer said.

The 27-year-old woman student of Vellore’s Christian Medical College is suspected to have helped ferry RDX from Bangladesh. She was picked up from the home of her brother Rizwan Gazi in Hyderabad, where she had apparently come on a vacation.

A police team has been sent to Bangalore in search of her brothers Rizwan and Irfran, both suspected RDX carriers.

Language sleuths

The state police plan to recruit some 100 people proficient in foreign languages — such as Arabic, Persian, Baluchi, Kurdish, Chechen, Hebrew, Uzbek and Spanish — to help them track terrorists. Bengali speakers will also be hired.

Their task will be to go through thousands of phone calls and emails, monitor jehadi websites and translate the content.

The state plans a terror intelligence wing on the lines of Karnataka. The recruits will be trained in both intelligence-gathering and combat techniques.

Sonia scare

The fresh terror alert, coming around the time Sonia Gandhi was in the state, had the police on tenterhooks yesterday.

The Congress chief mingled with crowds and shook hands with people at almost every location — Rajahmundry, Tummaluru, Guntur and Eluru.

A police inspector in Rajahmundry described how, when Sonia proffered her cheeks to a young woman to kiss, “I pulled out my pistol in panic”.

The young woman was questioned by special branch sleuths till late last evening. So was an aged lady who had touched Sonia’s chin at Tummaluru.

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