Bhopal/Mumbai, July 19: Sumit Tamrakar hates selling utensils. He must have realised by now that it’s far better than being locked up in a police station.
The 22-year-old brass merchant’s son had sent Bhopal police in a tizzy with an email that claimed responsibility for the Mumbai train blasts.
In the mail sent to TV channels and Hindi newspapers, he said he represented the Lashkar-e-Qahar, a group that had earlier owned up to the July 11 carnage, which left nearly 200 people dead.
Sumit also dropped a letter in a temple donation box that warned of more destruction in Mumbai, Bhopal and Indore if minorities and the banned Students’ Islamic Movement of India, accused of playing a role in the blasts, continued to be viewed with suspicion.
Sumit said he “hated” the job of selling utensils in a congested market and often wondered why his parents had forced him to discontinue studies after Class XII and join the family business.
He wanted adventure ' and the idea came in a flash.
As television channels played and replayed the gory images of the blasts, the bored young man decided to seize the moment. The email and the letter followed.
Bhopal inspector-general of police Sanjay Kumar Singh said the email claimed responsibility for the blasts with the message that a letter would be dropped in the donation box of the Pir Gate Mata temple. The letter is now with Bhopal police.
City police chief Anant Kumar Singh said he spent a sleepless night tracking down the cyber caf' in Gautam Nagar, about a kilometre away from Sumit’s house. Next came the search for those who had logged in and, finally, when the police reached his shop, Sumit walked up to admit his guilt.
“Yes, I did send the email, but it was a prank,” Sumit said during interrogation. “I did not realise the consequences.”
He has been arrested under Section 507 of the Indian Penal Code (See chart) and a few clauses of the information technology act because he used his friend’s ID and password to send the mail that most channels used as “breaking news”.
Sumit was not the only person who kept the cops busy. The police have reportedly tracked down to Indore another email that also claimed responsibility for the attacks.
In Mumbai, an anonymous call about a bomb threat sent the police to St Joseph School in suburban Juhu but they found nothing suspicious, officials said.
An exasperated K.P. Raghuvanshi, who heads Maharashtra’s anti-terrorist squad, warned of “exemplary punishment” for such hoax calls.
“Some claim they saw the terrorists, some claim to have overheard some conversation, some call up from PCOs spreading bomb scares. The police have a big job on their hand and cannot be distracted to this extent,” he told reporters.
“We have decided to take a tough stand and mete out exemplary punishment to the offenders.”
Raghuvanshi said usually the hoax callers turn out to be teenagers and, in many cases, the police don’t pursue cases against them very hard. “But the situation has come to such a pass that a harsh message has to be sent out.”
In Indore, the police are probing the email that also claimed responsibility for the blasts. “As soon as we get some leads, we will take action,” said additional SP Rajesh Hingangkar.