IM suspect in Pune blast

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  • Published 9.04.10

Mumbai, April 8: The Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad has claimed that the Indian Mujahideen was the terror outfit behind the Pune bakery blast on February 13 and Yasin Bhatkal, a relative of group’s founder Riyaz Bhatkal, was its mastermind.

Seventeen people died in the German Bakery blast, among them four students from Calcutta.

“We believe that Yasin is the prime suspect and he is related to Riyaz Bhatkal,” said an ATS officer.

The outfit’s name in the blast case sprang up a day after newly-appointed ATS chief Rakesh Maria submitted a preliminary report to Maharashtra home minister R.R. Patil in which he is believed to have mentioned the outfit as the prime suspect in the case.

Senior police officers were, however, tightlipped on the investigation.

Earlier in the day, Patil told the Legislative Council that the ATS had identified the terrorists behind the explosion and some suspects would be arrested in a few days. He, too, did not name the Indian Mujahideen. He said more details about the investigation would be revealed at a later stage.

Police sources said 27-year-old Ahmed Yasin Baapa alias Yasin Bhatkal lived in Mukadam Colony in Bhatkal, Karnataka. The Bhatkal brothers, Riyaz and Iqbal, also hail from the same village.

Yasin, who is absconding, worked for a brief period in his father Mohammed Zara Siddha Baapa’s shop in Dubai. A distant relative of Riyaz, he was affected by the 2002 riots in Gujarat and was drawn to the Indian Mujahideen, the police said.

The ATS also claimed it had identified four more suspects, including the bomb planter, and said some arrests could be made in the next few days.

The group has been named the prime suspect for two reasons.

First, because it already had a base in Pune. At least 12 of the 22 members of the Indian Mujahideen have been arrested from Pune earlier, including Mansoor Peerbhoy, the head of the publicity wing of the group.

Second, the explosive cocktail of RDX, ammonium nitrate and fuel oil, used allegedly by the group in the Bangalore, Delhi and Ahmedabad blasts in 2008, was found in a backpack in the German Bakery in Koregaon Park.

The bag was lying in the shop for nearly one and a half hours and was spotted by bakery employees minutes before the blast.

Pune police chief Satyapal Singh had blamed the bakery employees for not informing the police despite noticing the bag.

The Indian Mujahideen shot into the spotlight in 2008 when the Mumbai crime branch, then headed by Maria, busted a 21-member terror module allegedly involved in various blasts across the country since 2006.