| NIA officers escort Indian Mujahideen operative Tahseen Akthar aka Monu at Birsa Munda Airport in Ranchi before being taken to Delhi on Wednesday. Picture by Prashant Mitra |
May 21: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) today claimed major success in apprehending Hyder Ali alias Black Beauty and three others for allegedly plotting to kill Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi during Hunkar Rally in Patna on October 27.
In what can be described as cracking the “Ranchi module” of the Indian Mujahideen (IM), Lucknow’s NIA team, assisted by Ranchi police, arrested IM operatives — the Patna and July 7 Bodhgaya blasts are allegedly the handiwork of the home-grown terror outfit — Hyder (26) and Muzibullah Ansari (24) from Birsa Munda bus stand, popularly known as Khadgarha bus stand, around 1am today.
Two more suspects, blasts accused Imtiyaz Ansari’s 16-year-old nephew and protégé and Numan Ansari (21) were arrested from Daltonganj in Palamau district early this morning by the NIA with the help of Palamau police.
All four accused are suspected members of the outlawed Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). NIA has claimed to have wrapped up the Bihar serial blasts last year with all 14 accused of Patna blasts and eight persons allegedly responsible for Bodhgaya explosions are in custody. Four persons have been arrested for the Dilkhushnagar (Hyderabad) blasts also over the past few months.
“Definitely, there was a conspiracy by these people to harm Modiji,” NIA director-general Sharad Kumar told reporters in the NIA’s first press conference in over two years in New Delhi. Sharad said all the accused are SIMI operatives and suspected links with the Indian Mujahideen.
The threat perception to Modi was high all through the BJP leader’s election campaign. Arrests of suspected SIMI operatives in Madhya Pradesh and earlier the interrogation of IM functionary Yasin Bhatkal had revealed a threat to Modi.
A senior Jharkhand policeman, privy to the drama, said the duo jumped in surprise when the NIA team kicked Haider and called him by his secret alias “Black Beauty”.
“Oye Black Beauty, uth ja bahut bhaag liya. Thak gaya hoga ab aaram kar le (Hey. Black Beauty, you’ve run enough, you must be tired, rest now),” an NIA officer reportedly said. Both were taken to Jharkhand Armed Police guesthouse at Doranda for initial interrogation.
Palamau SP Y.S. Ramesh confirmed the arrests from Shankar Lodge at Baralota in Daltonganj. “Numan and the minor boy, both residents of Sithio village on Ranchi outskirts, were staying here for the past 15 days,” he said.
The NIA recovered cash, travel tickets, pen drives, mobile phones and some books from all four. Top intelligence sources refused to reveal details.
Around 6pm, the NIA presented Haider and Muzibullah before the court of judicial magistrate Manoj Kumar Sharma in Ranchi. The court accepted NIA’s request of their transit remand, but the NIA team have not divulged where the duo would be taken. Similarly, the fate of the minor boy and Numan is a closely guarded secret.
“Black Beauty was attempting to revive the sagging morale of the cadres of his organisation,” said an official. The accused worked at the behest of foreign handlers and received funds through hawala channels, said sources. The government had declared a reward of Rs10 lakh for information leading to arrest of Hyder.
In Bihar, the state anti-terrorism squad (ATS) is all set to interrogate the four suspects. Inspector-general of police Paresh Saxena, who is heading the state ATS, said: “We are sending a team from here to interrogate the suspects taken into custody for their role in the Patna and Bodhgaya blasts. Their interrogation would provide important leads not only in the two cases but also about the IM’s strategy to spread terror.”
Saxena is at present monitoring the case related to the Patna blasts. “I have also provided important inputs to the Patna police officers in connection with the blasts case,” he told The Telegraph.
The ATS was probing all the pursuits of the IM operatives in Bihar. “We have already traced the places that the alleged IM operatives visited during recce,” a senior ATS officer said, adding that Hyder, a native of Aurangabad in south-central Bihar, was the second important member of the IM after Tahseen Akhtar, the operational head of the banned outfit.
A senior police officer said initially Imtiyaz Ansari, Einul, Hyder Ali, Nauman Ansari, Taufiq Ansari and Mujibullah were named as accused in the Patna blasts case. While Imtiyaz, a native of Ranchi, was arrested from Patna Junction, his associate Einul succumbed to his injuries after receiving serious injuries in a bomb blast on a railway platform, a few hours before the blast at Gandhi Maidan.
Tahseen, a resident of Samastipur, was mentioned as the mastermind. Both Ali and Akhtar were identified by Imtiyaz as close friends, who played important role in raising the “Ranchi module” of the IM on the pattern of the Darbhanga module. Tahseen alias Monu was arrested from Naxalbari in Bengal in March this year.
The NIA in April this year had submitted chargesheet against two accused — Imtiyaz and Tabish. Tabish was arrested from East Champaran district on the basis of information given by Imtiyaz. “With the arrest of four absconding accused today, the entire Ranchi module of the IM has been cracked,” an NIA officer said.