The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bollywood bomb-maker blown up in ‘war zone’

Mumbai, July 31: Dilnawaz Khan Mustafa, who used to supply crackers and bombs for use in Bollywood movies, was blown to bits by his stockpile around 3.30 this morning. Six others, four of his family and two neighbours, were also killed in the blast that flung the bodies of the victims more than 100 yards away in suburban Jogeshwari.

The blast site in Rajmahal Yadav Chawl seemed as if it had been flattened by a Scud missile. “I heard a loud explosion very early in the morning,” said Dilnawaz’s neighbour Rajesh Singh. “For a moment I felt that we were being attacked. I mean, we are always talking and watching war happening on TV these days.”

A flour mill, a hair-cutting saloon and 10 small tenements around 36-year-old Dilnawaz’s concrete house were damaged in the blast that also injured 29 people.

Coming three days after the Ghatkopar bus blast that killed three persons, there was scepticism about the government’s version that the explosion was “99 per cent accident”. Minister for home (rural) Kripashanker Singh initially claimed that “those responsible for the Ghatkopar blast” were behind it, but sang a different tune a couple of hours later. “It looks like an accident.”

But Singh could not say why an “explosives expert”, who had supplied material for blast sequences in several films, including the Vivek Oberoi starrer Dum, had stocked so much combustible potassium in his house.

Buoyed by yesterday’s successful bandh against the bus blast, Opposition leaders were quick to pillory the ruling Democratic Front government, alleging that the Congress-NCP combine was deliberately not looking into the “subversion angle”.

But deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal stuck to the accident version. “It could be 99 per cent accident,” he said. “One per cent could be anything and we are exploring all the angles. It is too early to say anything right now.”

The police, too, settled on the accident theory but did not rule out the possibility of some of the recent blasts in Mumbai being caused by bombs Dilnawaz concocted. The recovery of gelatin sticks and ammonium nitrate from the site — found in most of the five blast sites since December 2 last year — has strengthened the “other angle”.

Joint commissioner (crime) Satyapal Singh said Dilnawaz stored the explosives “illegally”. The police are now wondering if the expert bomb-maker had been approached by “others” to supply the bombs, not necessarily for fake explosions in thrillers.

The police have taken in Ayub Khan, Dilnawaz’s brother-in-law and a tailor working in central Mumbai, for interrogation after he was “found at the spot in suspicious circumstances”, Singh said. Dilnawaz’s business associate Khalid Shaifi, also believed to be in the special effects trade, is being questioned, too.

Investigations into the Ghatkopar blast, Bhujbal said, have more or less zeroed in on al Hadiz, a puritanical sect whose agenda and action are mostly orchestrated by religious leaders. The group is an offshoot of the Lashker-e-Toiba and is listed in the Prevention of Terrorism Act as “LeT/al Hadiz”, one of the groups banned in India.


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