| Mirza Sadad Beg |
Patna, Sept. 12: The head of an Indian Mujahideen (IM) faction is under the scanner of sleuths investigating the Bo- dhgaya serial blasts.
At least two Buddhist monks were injured in the blasts on July 7.
The role of Mirza Sadad Beg is suspected following the interrogation of IM co-founder Yasin Bhatkal alias Mohammad Ahmed Siddibapa, who was arrested from the Nepal border in the state.
Sources in the National Investigation Agency (NIA) said Yasin revealed that the IM had done a recce of Mahabodhi Mahavihara ahead of the blasts. Beg’s name also figured in the two major blasts allegedly carried out by the IM in Uttar Pradesh’s Gorakhpur and Varanasi in 2006 and 2007, respectively.
Though Beg had fled the country after the explosions, he is reported to have returned.
An investigating officer associated with the Bodhgaya blasts case said Beg was heading a faction of the outfit operating in the country.
“There are two factions of the IM active in India — one headed by me (Yasin) and another by Beg,” the officer quoted Yasin as saying.
Yasin, who originally hails from Karnataka, however, did not rule out the possibility of Beg’s involvement in the Bodhgaya blasts.
“I am not aware of the activities being carried out by the faction led by Beg,” Yasin reportedly told the interrogators.
The officer, under the cover of anonymity, said Beg was an old member of the outfit and had been actively involved in anti-India activities.
“The agency is trying to ascertain Beg’s whereabouts to confirm his role in the Bodhgaya blasts — the first such incident in the state,” he added.
The agency has also sought the cooperation of the Bihar police in ascertaining the whereabouts of another IM operative, Mohammad Tehsin Akhtar alias Monu, a resident of Samastipur.
“Tehsin’s arrest would throw more light on the activities of Darbhanga module of the organisation,” he said.
He said Tehsin’s father Wasim Akhtar was recently quizzed by an NIA team from Delhi in Samastipur’s Ujiyarpur police station premises and his blood samples were collected.
“The agency is collecting blood samples of relatives of terrorists, who are on the run for long,” the officer said, adding that the blood samples would be matched with the samples collected from the blasts sites.
In addition, the agency has announced a reward of Rs 10 lakh for giving information about Waqas alias Ahmed Javed, who is suspected to be hiding in Bihar. Photographs and details of Waqas, a Pakistani national, has been uploaded on the NIA website. Waqas, aged about 23 years, was last seen in Mangalore, Karnataka.
The 6-feet tall fair-complexioned Waqas is computer-savvy and frequent visitor to the cyber café.
He is fluent in Urdu and Hindi with Punjabi accent and pretends to be a student to get accommodation on rent in big cities, the NIA sources said.