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Lumbini, UP sites also on terror radar

Investigations have revealed that the Indian Mujahideen had planned to carry out attacks not only on the Buddhist pilgrimage site in Bodhgaya but also Buddha’s birthplace in Nepal and other places in Uttar Pradesh.

The revelations were made by Aslam Parvez, who was arrested by a National Investigation Agency (NIA) team from Arwal district in south-central Bihar on Saturday.

Parvez was produced before a Jehanabad court and subsequently taken to Ranchi where he would be produced in a special National Investigation Agency court on Monday.

During preliminary questioning, Parvez reportedly admitted his close links to Haider Ali alias Abdullah, an Indian Mujahideen operative and alleged mastermind of the Bodhgaya serial explosions on July 7, 2013. Parvez, a native of Agbilla village in Arwal district, is the second suspect arrested from Arwal in connection with the Bodhgaya blast case.

Earlier, Mohammad Irfan was picked up from his native village in Arwal district on March 2 this year. However, two other suspects — Ranjan and Rajnandan — were let off after preliminary interrogation. Irfan was later produced before the National Investigation Agency special court in Patna on March 3 and remanded in judicial custody for two weeks.

Parvez reportedly revealed that Buddha’s birthplace at Lumbini in Nepal and Buddhist sites at Kushinagar and Shravasti in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh were also on the radar of the Indian Mujahideen. “This has been corroborated with the seizure of handmade map of these sites from Eram lodge in Ranchi’s Hindpiri locality during search by the National Investigation Agency team following Patna blasts,” an investigating officer told The Telegraph.

The officer, associated with the Bodhgaya blast probe, revealed that the Indian Mujahideen group headed by Haider had done a recce of these Buddhist sites and planned to attack them one after another. However, the arrest of its operative Imtiyaz in Patna in connection with the BJP’s Hunkar Rally blasts case (October 27) dismissed their plan, the officer quoted Parvez as saying.

Parvez, who used to visit Eram lodge to meet Haider, a native of Aurangabad district, told the interrogators that he had helped Haider procure explosives stored in the lodge for their use in the Bodhgaya case. “Initially, he tried to mislead the interrogators. However, he later broke down and admitted that he was in constant touch with Haider,” the officer disclosed.

Haider and his associate Mohammad Tahseen Akhtar alias Monu are absconding till date. The NIA has announced a reward of Rs 10 lakh each on the two fugitive terrorists. “Irfan and Parvez were the local links, who had provided full support to the Indian Mujahideen in carrying out its subversive activities in Bihar,” the investigating officer said.

Arwal superintendent of police Shafi-Ul-Haque said the district police have already stepped up surveillance in the wake of the arrest of two suspects from the district in the past two weeks. “We are cautious and maintaining constant vigil on the activities of the people with criminal background, especially youths studying outside,” he said.


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