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CIMA Gallary

Sleuths plan to quiz duo in Tihar

New Delhi, Feb. 25: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) plans to move court for the remand of two Indian Mujahideen suspects lodged in Tihar jail to find out if the Hyderabad blasts were plotted last year.

Imran Khan and Syed Maqbool are accused in a series of low-intensity explosions in Pune last year that left one person injured.

Maqbool is suspected to have conducted a recce of Dilsukhnagar, the site of the February 21 attack in Hyderabad that killed 17 persons, before being picked up over the Pune case last year.

“The NIA is likely to move court to take remand of the two persons in a day or two,” a source said.

Imran and Maqbool were among five persons arrested by Delhi police in connection with the explosions in Pune in August last year.

In the Hyderabad attack, NIA has joined the probe with Andhra police but the case has not been transferred to the national agency yet.

However, the scope of NIA to investigate terror cases is much larger.

Late last year, the agency registered a case based on what sleuths described as an inquiry into a “bigger conspiracy of the Indian Mujahideen” to carry out attacks across the country.

The case empowers the NIA to round up or seek the remand of accused in other cases and lodged in prisons anywhere in the country.

Investigators have seen the outfit’s footprints in several blasts, from Varanasi to Jaipur to Hyderabad. The modus operandi in the attacks has been similar, such as the use of cycles and tiffin boxes.

Another common thread has been the use of over-the-counter explosives, such as ammonium nitrate and silver nitrate that have several everyday applications.

But despite the similarities, the attackers have flummoxed investigators by leaving behind few other traces. A senior officer said terror outfits were setting up what he described as “air-tight cells” that made it tough to get to the bottom of a case unless two or more such units were busted.

The cells are often based on a “buddy” system where the operatives, like task forces in several armies, work in pairs, the officer said.

Information with members of these cells is limited to their task. It is here that the NIA seeks to make a dent by questioning Maqbool and Imran. The aim will be to determine if they indeed surveyed targets in Hyderabad’s Dilsukhnagar last year.