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Ranchi storehouse of Bodhgaya bombs

Patna, May 30: The explosives used in the terror attack in Bodhgaya were stored in the Ranchi residence of Imtiyaz Ansari about 10 days before the serial blasts on July 7 last year. A few test explosions were also conducted to ascertain their impact.

The startling facts came to the fore in the course of investigation by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which submitted chargesheet today against the four accused in the Bodhgaya blasts case in the special NIA court here. The four suspects — Imtiyaz Ansari, a shopkeeper, Umer Siddiqui, a private teacher, Azharuddin Siddiqui Qureshi and Tariq alias Ainul (who died while carrying a bomb at the Patna Junction station on October 27 last year) — have been booked under Section 120(b) of Indian Penal Code, sections 3 and 4 of Explosive Substance Act and sections 16, 17, 18(b), 19, 20 and 23 of Prevention of Unlawful Activities.

According to the chargesheet filed in the court of additional district and sessions judge (I) Anil Kumar Singh, the role of other suspects — Haider Ali, Tahseen Akhtar alias Monu, Mujibullah, Numan and Taufiq — was under investigation. They all have been arrested and being questioned for their alleged involvement in both Bodhgaya and Patna serial blasts.

Haider, a former member of the Students’ Islamic Movement of India (Simi), was assigned the task of carrying out the operation at Bodhgaya on July 7 last year. The attack was aimed at killing innocent citizens, causing hurt to Buddhist students and creating panic among masses to avenge the atrocities on the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

The investigating officer claimed that Haider, a native of Aurangabad district’s Khiriawan village, had engaged six Simi activists, including Taufiq, Numan, Mujibullah, Imtiyaz and Ainul alias Tariq, to execute the plan. Numan could not take part in the operation because he had suddenly fallen sick.

All the five members of the group, known as Ranchi module of the Indian Mujahideen, boarded a private bus from Ranchi and reached Bodhgaya at 3am on July 7, 2013. The explosives were packed in black bags.

After reaching Bodhgaya, Haider entered the temple premises wearing robe and pretending to be a Buddhist monk (the CCTV footage showed a man walking in robe). On getting go-ahead, Mujibullah, Taufiq, Tariq (Ainul) and Imtiyaz followed Haider, who was heading the team. They planted 13 bombs in a radius of about 1km. While four bombs were placed on the temple premises, the rest were planted at different places such as 80-foot-high statue of Buddha. Haider had planted the four bombs near the temple, the investigating team told the court.

Except Haider, the other four members of the team went to the Bodhgaya bus stand by autorickshaws after planting the cylinder bombs and took a bus to Hazaribagh. Later, they reached Sithio village in Ranchi district of Jharkhand. Haider returned to Ranchi from Bodhgaya after two days. In order to avoid detection, the accused had abandoned their cellphones.

“The civara, (robe of a Buddhist monk) recovered from the temple premises was sent for DNA test, which confirmed that it belonged to Haider. At the same time, it shows that he was present at the site on the fateful day,” an investigating officer claimed in the chargesheet.

The chargesheet states that Haider, also called black beauty, used to chat with Pakistan-based handlers and arranged funds for the activists attached with the Ranchi module of Indian Mujahideen (IM). He was also in constant touch with IM’s co-founder Yasin Bhatkal and its operational head Tahseen Akhtar, who were subsequently arrested. Haider had met Tahseen in Ranchi in 2013 before the Bodhgaya blasts.

During investigation, it was found that Haider and Mujibullah used to stay in a private lodge in Ranchi, which was later searched by the NIA and the district police officers. Haider had indoctrinated Taufiq, Numan, Mujibullah and others to join the IM’s Ranchi module, which mainly comprised the activists of sleeper cells of the Simi.

In addition, Umer Siddiqui and Azharuddin Qureshi, who were arrested from Raipur, have been accused of hatching conspiracy and executing the strategies to fan terror activities across the country. Haider has been charged with propagating “jihadi” ideology. The chargesheet also mentioned about the role of the four arrested persons in the blasts during the BJP’s Hunkar Rally at Gandhi Maidan in Patna on October 27, 2013, in which seven persons were killed and over 80 were injured.