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SIMI operator spills Patna blast links

Jamshedpur, Dec. 27: A couple of days before BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s Vijay Sankalp Rally in Ranchi on December 29, a vital clue to the serial blasts that occurred on the day of his Patna campaign on October 27 has emerged from the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh.

Abu Faizal (also known as Fazal), a senior operative of banned outfit Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), who with six aides scripted a Hollywood-style jailbreak from Khandwa prison in Madhya Pradesh on October 1 and got re-arrested on December 24 from the same state, had visited Ranchi immediately before the Patna blasts.

Bhopal ATS inspector-general Sanjiv Shami told The Telegraph today over phone that Faizal, on his re-arrest, had confessed to having met Haider Ali, an operative of the home-grown terror outfit Indian Mujahideen (IM) and one of the masterminds of the Patna blasts, in Ranchi in October.

The ATS in Bhopal is now trying to extract information from Faizal on the extent of his involvement in the Patna blasts as well as any future plan hatched with IM operatives.

In Ranchi, Faizal held several meetings with Haider between the first and third weeks of October.

Bihar-based Haider, who had a base in Ranchi’s Doranda area, is still absconding.

Along with another well-known IM operative Tahseen Akhtar from Bihar, Haider was a key recruiter of youths from Ranchi and nearby areas.

Faizal himself has a strong Bihar and Jharkhand nexus — he hails from Aurangabad and his driving licence sports a Jamshedpur address at Azadnagar’s road No. 13, Mango.

Rising up SIMI ranks, the resourceful operative spent a long time in Mumbai’s Juhu area and became a well-known national conduit between the SIMI and the IM.

His wife Sabia, an operative in Shaheen Force, the women’s wing of SIMI, used to stay in the double-storeyed house in Azadnagar even as recently as in 2011, but has now gone “underground”.

“On December 24, Faizal was arrested from Barwani district in Madhya Pradesh with two aides Khalid Ahmed and Irfan Nagori. Faizal’s interrogation has uncovered significant leads, which include meeting Haider. We are probing for more information,” ATS inspector-general Shami said.

For the Patna blasts, both Haider and Akhtar had led a Jharkhand quartet of fledgling IM operatives, all from Sithio village near Ranchi, to plant low-intensity bombs on the day of the Hunkar Rally at Gandhi Maidan in Patna on October 27.

One of the Sithio youths, Imtiyaz Ansari, was arrested in Patna on the day of the blasts.

Another, Ainul alias Tarique, was fatally injured on the same day at a toilet in Patna junction when the explosives he was carrying, burst. Ainul, who was on life support, died in four days.

Sithio happens to be a little over 3km from Dhurwa grounds, where Modi’s Vijay Sankalp Rally will be held on December 29.

In a door-to-door campaign recently, BJP workers had inundated Sithio with invitation cards for the rally to show that no grudges were borne either by Modi or the party against the village. Imtiyaz’s father Md Kamaluddin had been specially singled out.

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