| Are the nine absconding Pakistanis still in India'
Are any Lashkar sleeper cells waiting to strike in Mumbai'
How did Ehsanullah, who allegedly smuggled in the RDX, enter and leave Mumbai'
How did the terrorists slip away unnoticed after planting bombs
in peak-hour trains'
Why did bomber Salim fail to escape'
Mumbai, Sept. 30: Mumbai police today accused Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence of masterminding the serial train blasts with the help of Pakistani militants, putting names to the Prime Minister’s reference in July to “elements across the border”.
The allegations that virtually drag the Pakistani establishment into the picture have come two weeks after Manmohan Singh and President Pervez Musharraf met in Havana to announce a joint mechanism to fight terror.
The blasts that killed 189 people and injured over 750 during the evening rush hour of July 11 were carried out by Lashkar-e-Toiba and Students’ Islamic Movement of India operatives with links to Jaish-e-Mohammed, the police said.
Islamabad termed the charges “baseless and fabricated”. Pakistan interior minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao told reporters: “We totally reject it as it is aimed at maligning Pakistan at a time when the leadership of the two countries met in Havana and such baseless allegations are not going to help.”
Maharashtra deputy chief minister R.R. Patil said the investigations clearly revealed a Pakistani hand. “We can now say we have solved the case, but investigations are still on. There are more arrests likely.”
Eleven Pakistanis and seven Indians had set off the blasts after planting a mix of RDX, ammonium nitrate and fuel oil, packed in pressure-cookers, in first-class train compartments, Mumbai police chief Anami Roy told a news conference.
He said nine of the 11 Pakistanis were at large. One, Salim, died in the explosions and Mohammed Ali alias Abu Osama alias Abu Umed, the only one the police had cornered, never came out alive from an encounter in an Antop Hill house in August.
The conspiracy was allegedly hatched in February-March at the base of Lashkar commander Azam Cheema in Bahawalpur, Pakistan. The plan was executed by three Lashkar and Simi modules, their members trained at Lashkar camps in Bahawalpur over the past three to four years.
According to the police, the 11 Pakistanis entered Mumbai between May 25 and late June in three groups. Five crossed the border from Bangladesh, two from Nepal and four from Pakistan, breaching the Gujarat frontier. They were helped and guided by the seven Simi activists, who provided logistical support.
Roy said one of the Pakistanis, Ehsanullah, smuggled in over 15 to 20 kg of RDX and bought about 28 kg of ammonium nitrate from Mumbai shops.
Fifteen people have been arrested so far, including the heads of the three Lashkar and Simi sleeper cells, Roy added. He identified the trio as Lashkar operatives Faisal Sheikh and Kamaluddin Ansari and Simi’s Ehtesham Siddiqui. Sheikh and Siddiqui were held from Mumbai’s Mira Road and Ansari from Madhubani, Bihar.
Roy cited further evidence of Pakistani involvement: a hawala trail from Pakistan to Mumbai via the United Arab Emirates. “We have seized 26,000 Saudi riyals from Faisal. They were routed through Pakistan to Lashkar operative Rizwan Dawre in the UAE, and transferred to Faisal before and after the blasts. Faisal also received about Rs 60 lakh in the last four to five years.”
He added that brain-mapping and narco-analysis tests had provided crucial leads in what turned out to be a “beautiful and highly professional’’ investigation.