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Surbek Biswas, Hindustan Times
Kolkata, July 23, 2012
The special task force (STF) of Kolkata Police, which recovered detonators and a jelly-like liquid from the hotel room of suspected IM operative Haroon Rashid on Saturday, believe that he was probably planning a strike during Mamata Banerjee’s Martyrs’ Day rally on the same day.

Haroon, wanted in connection with the 13/7 Mumbai blasts and other terror acts in Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat, was arrested in the city on July 17.

The STF personnel raided a hotel on Acharya Prafulla Chandra Road in Sealdah, where Haroon had checked in on July 16. During the raid, the sleuths found a bag containing a semisolid item placed inside a box. The police suspect it was ammonium nitrate gel.

Detonators and electrical wires were also found.

“It’s evident from the seizures that Haroon was planning to carry out a major strike in the city. According to the modus operandi of the IM, the explosives reach the target city a few days before the day of the strike. We presume that the target might have been the July 21 rally, since it was the only big event in recent times. Had there been a blast, it would have been disastrous.

It seems that Haroon, along with some other IM operatives, was about to assemble an improvised explosive device (IED), but was arrested before their mission was completed,” a senior STF official told HT on Sunday.

“Haroon, however, didn’t reveal anything in this regard. We’re interrogating him to learn what they were planning. We’ll also have to track down his accomplices,” the officer added.

Although Haroon has been in STF custody since his arrest, the sleuths had no idea he checked into a hotel and parked the explosives there. The twist in the case emerged only after the hotel authorities informed the Muchipara police that a person by the name of Haroon had not returned to the hotel after July 17. Haroon’s biggest blunder was signing his actual name in the hotel register.

“Haroon was produced before the court on Sunday in relation to some seizures. We’ve got him in our custody until July 30,” Rajiv Mishra, joint commissioner (STF) of Kolkata Police, told Hindustan Times.