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IM duo get 3-day custody

Ranchi, June 8: National Investigation Agency (NIA) today secured a three-day remand of two Indian Mujahideen (IM) operatives, who were arrested yesterday after six time bombs and other explosives were recovered from two places of Ranchi.

The duo, Iftikar Ansari (25) and Firoz Aslam, alias Pappu, (39), were produced before the court of principal district and sessions judge-cum-judicial commissioner Sarfaraz Hassan Kazmi, who remanded them in police custody.

IM operatives Haider Ali (26) and Muzibullah Ansari (24) ó two key accused in the last yearís Patna serial blasts on October 27, the day of Narendra Modiís rally ó arrested by NIA from Ranchi on May 21 this year, were brought to Ranchi on Saturday.

On the basis of their revelations, the agency recovered six IEDs from a paddy field at Sithio village and three live bombs fitted with timers from Karbala Chowk on Ranchi outskirts yesterday. Following the seizure, Iftikar and Firoz were arrested late last evening.

Investigations suggested Iftikar, an auto driver, was a close friend of Imtiyaz Ansari, arrested by Patna police along with explosives on the day of the Patna serial blasts.

According to NIA, both Iftikar and Firoz were not only part of an active IM module in Ranchi but also instrumental in hiding unused bombs that were assembled to perpetrate terror attacks on Narendra Modiís rally in Patna.

NIA sources claimed that Iftikar accepted that he had kept these bombs in the paddy field to use them in future. Also, Firoz admitted that he was aware of the Patna blast conspiracy and had helped to conceal explosives at the behest of accused Muzibullah after the blasts.

Firoz Aslam was a key facilitator before and after the blasts. He is also suspected to be close to Abu Faisal, a hardcore SIMI cadre from Madhya Pradesh who was arrested recently.

An NIA team quizzed Dr Azaz Hashmi, an employee with Apollo hospitals, this afternoon. Grilling revealed Hashmi was a close associate of Haider. On May 22, NIA seized materials used in making bombs from a room of Idris Medical Hostel in Bariatu where the young doctor stayed.