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Prod for leads on Ranchi terror suspect

Ranchi, Feb. 24: The Hyderabad serial bomb blasts have put the state police on their toes yet again.

Jharkhand police received a missive from the Union ministry of home affairs two days ago prodding the department for latest inputs on elusive Ranchi-based youth Manzar Imam, 35, who bears the same name as the one involved in the latest Hyderabad serial blasts, sources said.

The central ministry wants to ascertain any possible connection of Imam with Thursday’s twin blasts, as he is known to be among the top 12 men on the ranks of militant group Indian Mujahideen.

Jharkhand’s border districts such as Dumka, Pakur, Sahebganj and Jamtara which are prone to illegal immigration, as well as Hazaribagh, Dhanbad and Ranchi have been given special instruction as there have been reports of Indian Mujahideen’s sleeper cells operating in these places, a top police official confided.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is probing the role of Imam and one of the friends, Danis Reyaz (under judicial custody), in the 2008 Ahmedabad serial bombing case, is slated to attach movable properties of the Ranchi youth soon.

In December 2012, the NIA could not attach his property due to some technical issues.

“We are freshly scanning and verifying records of people whose conducts may be doubtful. We have information that a suspect of the same name belongs to Bihar. I believe investigations into the Hyderabad blasts are in the initial phase. Let a clear picture emerge. But it is a fact that Ranchi boy Imam, as evidences suggest, has clear terror connection,” DGP G.S. Rath told The Telegraph.

He pointed out that the state police did not have any intelligence input about “direct or indirect links of Jharkhand in the Hyderabad episode”.

He added: “But owing to the fact that there exists sleeper cells of IM in some parts of Jharkhand we have sounded a high alert. We appeal to citizens to alert the police about any suspicious objects and persons in their areas.”

According to intelligence sources, Imam who allegedly joined IM’s terror camp along with 40 others at Thangalpara forest in Kottayam district of Kerala in 2008, is among the top operatives of the outfit.

“As long as he does not turn up to prove his innocence, he will be seen as a suspect whenever IM triggers terror strikes. IM is a closely-knit group. There are evidence of Imam’s close association with top IM operatives like Yasin Bhatkal,” said a top intelligence official.

Police officers, however, declined to speak in detail about security measures and alerts. Sources said the districts bordering Bengal that are prone to illegal immigration owing to proximity with Bangladesh had been specifically told to remain alert.

The name of Imam, a resident of Bariatu in Ranchi, surfaced in the Ahmedabad bomb blasts case following confessions by Reyaz, an IM member.

Reyaz, also a resident of Bariatu, was arrested from Baroda in Gujarat.

“Manzar Imam would have been arrested in July 2011 when an NIA team had raided his house in Ranchi, as he was in the city. We doubt this highly secret operation was leaked and Imam managed to flee,” said an intelligence official.

Sources did not rule out the possibility of Imam escaping to Nepal or Bangladesh.

The NIA has moved a Hyderabad court to seek fresh order to attach movable properties of Imam in Bariatu.

Manzar Imam, alias Manzar Imam Ali, is said to have received terror training at one of the camps of IM in Kerala. A case was registered against Imam and 40 others in Kerala.

After the investigation was transferred to the NIA, it lodged a fresh case in Hyderabad under different sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.


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