New Delhi, Oct. 11: Delhi police today claimed to have cracked the August 1 Pune blast case with the arrest of three suspected Indian Mujahideen operatives who investigators said were planning to target the capital and Bihar’s Bodhgaya during the festive season ahead.
All three — Asad Khan, 33, Imran Khan, 31, and Syed Firoze, 38 — are from Maharashtra.
“They had plans to target Delhi during the festival season and a temple in Bodhgaya. With their arrest, we have managed to avert these incidents. We are also co-ordinating with the Maharashtra ATS (anti-terrorism squad) and Bihar police to ascertain more details about their antecedents,” Delhi police commissioner Neeraj Kumar said.
Four low-intensity explosions had rocked Pune on August 1 this year. One man was injured.
Police sources said Asad, an alleged IM ideologue who recruited youths for terror attacks, and Imran were arrested in south Delhi on September 26. Firoze was caught five days later from Nizamuddin railway station. “Five kilograms of explosive materials, 10 detonators and other articles were recovered from them,” Kumar said, adding that alleged Lashkar-e-Toiba operative and 26/11 plotter Abu Jundal’s interrogation had led to the arrests.
“During interrogation of Abu Jundal we came to know that the IM was planning terror strikes in the country. This shows a direct link between the Indian Mujahideen and the Lashkar,” he said.
Home ministry sources said the explosives seized were similar to those seized from Pune but added there were no clues yet on who planted the bombs. The three are said to have been in touch with their handlers in Pakistan.
Intelligence reports suggest the IM wanted to target Mumbai before Pune, but changed the plan to avenge Mohammed Qateel Siddique’s death in Pune’s Yerawada jail in June.
A police official said Qateel, an accused in the 2010 German Bakery blast that claimed 17 lives, was killed by two jail inmates after he boasted that his group would trigger a blast at a famous Ganpati temple in Pune.
The sources said the IM planned to target Bodhgaya as the Buddhist pilgrim centre attracts foreign tourists.
States have been advised to be alert.