Atif alias Bashir, the terrorist who was shot dead in Jamia Nagar on Friday, used to pick out blast sites himself. Police say he would visit an area and decide where exactly the bombs were to be planted.
Said to be the mastermind behind the recent Indian Mujahideen-engineered blasts, this Azamgarh resident had reportedly set up base in Delhi two months ago. Police say he had also enrolled for a course at Jamia Millia Islamia University around the same time.
Regarding Friday’s encounter, the police said they had got specific information a few days ago, and had been concentrating on a few mobile phone numbers operational in the Jamia Nagar area ever since. They had also learnt that Bashir had stopped venturing outside his house four days ago.
Although Bashir used to stay aloof from his neighbours, he was known to move around in a group. When police entered his Jamia Nagar flat on Friday, they found 13 bags inside. “The luggage recovered from the house reveals that some people had moved in recently,” said an officer.
Role in Ahmedabad and Jaipur
Police say Bashir and 12 others left Delhi for Ahmedabad on July 24. While in Ahmedabad, Bashir made the explosives and put together the bombs with his trademark twin detonators. On July 26, after planting the 17 bombs, the terrorists boarded the Rajdhani Express to Delhi.
“The bombs were exploding in Ahmedabad while they were still on the train,” said a senior police official. The terrorists had booked the train tickets under fake names, at different times. The police have recovered 13 of these tickets.
Police say Bashir was also present in Jaipur on May 13, when blasts rocked the Pink City. “We are investigating where he went after that,” said an officer.
Link with Qureshi
Police say Bashir was also present in Hyderabad when an explosion occurred at Gokul Chat on August 25, 2007. After this, he allegedly left his phone number at Abdus Subhan Qureshi’s Mira Road residence in Mumbai. “Bashir directed Qureshi to get in touch with him; he wanted manpower as well as money to carry out the serial blasts in Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Delhi,” said a senior police officer.
With Bashir dead, police say Mohammad Saif, who was arrested from the Jamia Nagar flat after Friday’s encounter, holds the key to the investigation in the blasts case.