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UP looks to Bengal to track culprits

Lucknow, Nov. 24: Uttar Pradesh police have requested Bengal for help to track the culprits behind the synchronised blasts that tore through three court complexes yesterday.

The special task force has sought information on terror modules associated with the Harkat-ul Jihadi Islami that recently infiltrated to India from Bangladesh.

No terror group has yet owned responsibility for the blasts in Lucknow, Varanasi and Faizabad but sleuths said bicycle bombs suggested the hand of the Harkat.

“We have information about a terror module that is keen to seek the release of Harkat terrorist Waliullah, now in Varanasi jail. The Bengal intelligence was keeping an eye on that module,” a police officer said.

“The STF has asked Bengal to pass on that information to us.”

Harkat self-styled area commander Waliullah was arrested from Calcutta and charged with triggering blasts in Sankatmochan temple in Varanasi in March 2006. His case was listed for hearing in a Varanasi court yesterday when three blasts tore through the complex, killing 11 persons.

DGP Vikram Singh said the police were probing all possibilities. “The use of bicycles suggests Harkat could be behind these attacks,” he said.

“It was a clean strategy because it is very easy to park bicycles near the advocates’ makeshift offices that are always crowded.”

Singh said the Harkat had earlier used pressure cookers to set off the Sankatmochan temple and Varanasi railway station blasts because “the presence of utensils seldom raise eyebrows in temples and railway stations”.

The police have identified the shops from where the six bicycles used in the blasts were bought. The ones used in Varanasi and Faizabad were new. One new and one old one were used in Lucknow.

“The shopkeepers have provided us vital information about the person who had purchased these bicycles. These clues could be very useful in tracking down the culprits,” inspector-general of police Arvind Jain said.

The police have also asked the advocates to provide information on the persons who had parked the bicycles.

A Faizabad lawyer, Mahesh Sharma, said he had seen a man in white kurta- pyjama parking a bicycle in the lane opposite his makeshift office.

“He looked a bit confused. I asked him to park his cycle behind the shed, otherwise someone would steal it. He obeyed and said shukriya,” Sharma said.

“A few minutes later, I heard the blast. When I came running, I saw my office reduced to rubble. My junior was dead. One of my clients was seriously injured and died in hospital.”

Sharma said he would not be able to “forget the nervous eyes of that young man who parked his bicycle” and blamed himself for his junior’s death.

“Had I not asked him to shift his bicycle, my junior would have been alive today.”

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