Manzar Imam being taken to civil court amid tight security in Ranchi on Monday. Picture by Prashant Mitra
Ranchi, March 4: Manzar Imam, wanted for his links with banned organisations suspected to be behind several acts of terror, including the February 21 Hyderabad blasts, was arrested from the outskirts of the state capital last night by officers belonging to National Investigating Agency (NIA).
According to police sources, Manzar (35) was wanted for the Hyderabad blasts that left 16 dead and similar acts of terror in Pune, Mumbai and Ahmedabad, all of which the police believe are the handiwork of Indian Mujahideen (IM) and Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI).
The five-member NIA team from Lucknow, led by deputy superintendent of police K. Sudarshan, picked him up from Kanke’s CIP Chowk while he was going to his Bariatu residence, 12km away.
Manzar was lodged at Kanke police station for the night. He was produced before the court of judicial magistrate M.C. Narayan around 10.30am today and granted a transit remand. Later, the NIA team took him to Ernakulam in Kerala by an Indian Airlines flight.
The police have maintained that Manzar harboured close ties with the two banned organisations and had even attended a training camp in Kerala.
Manzar, police sources said, was a friend of Danish Riyaz, the 25-year-old software engineer from Bariatu who was arrested in Vadodara on June 21, 2011, in connection with the Ahmedabad blasts. Investigative agencies claim to have proof that both Danish and Imam maintained strong ties with SIMI.
Quoting an FIR (no 272/08) registered at Muddupakyam police station in Kottayam district of Kerala, a police officer said, “Imam and Danish had taken part in a camp called, Jihad in India, at Thangalpara jungle with 41 other youths.”
The camp, the police officer maintained, was held to train youths in handling arms and explosives to commit acts of terror in major cities like Mumbai, Chennai and Delhi.
In 2011, NIA was handed over the job of looking for all those who took part in the camp. “Danish and Manzar are accused number 23 and 24, respectively, in a list of 43 who attended the camp. So far, six of them have been arrested. We are still looking for the remaining 37,” an NIA team member said.
In July, 2011, an NIA team from Hyderabad had come to Ranchi but failed to arrest him. Later, NIA sent a team in August and December to attach Manzar’s property after obtaining necessary orders from an Ernakulam court. But it could not accomplish the task.
Officer-in-charge of Kanke police station Sanjay Kumar explained the circumstances under which Manzar was finally nabbed.
“The NIA team had correct information. As Manzar was going to board an autorickshaw, they caught him,” said the officer who also deputed some policemen to assist the NIA.
Manzar’s family denied he was involved in any terror activities, citing his “excellent” academic background.
Elder brother Safdar Imam said he had been falsely implicated. “If it is proved that my brother is involved in any blast, we will shoot ourselves and die,” he said.
Nazar Imam, Manzar’s younger brother, said he was being “punished” for being an educated Muslim youth. “We have already appointed an advocate and hope to get justice from the courts,” he said, adding that Manzar was a brilliant student and had won a gold medal in 2007 after topping the Urdu post-graduate examinations under Ranchi University.