A day after alleged Indian Mujahideen (IM) terrorist Mohammad Qateel Siddiqui was found dead inside Pune's Yerwada Jail, conspiracy theories started doing the rounds.
While Siddiqui's cousin claimed the Maharashtra ATS had bumped off his brother, a Delhi Police officer suggested the hand of underworld don Chhota Rajan in the murder.
Either Siddiqui's proximity to IM chief Yasin Bhatkal, the officer said, or his alleged role in targeting a temple may have led to his killing.
"It is believed that Rajan's arch-rival Dawood Ibrahim has been funding the outfit (IM) through its creators Riyaz and Iqbal Bhatkal, from Karachi," he explained.
"Also, the fact that Qateel had been assigned the Shrimant Dagrusheth Halwai temple in Pune as a target could have incensed Rajan."Siddiqui's growing closeness to his handlers in Karachi — sources claim he was in touch over telephone with the Bhatkal brothers and was going to meet them just before he got arrested — could have added fuel to the fire.
"The six IM men arrested for their role in the Jama Masjid attack of September 2010 were using 28 phones to evade surveillance. While two of them had eight phones each, Qateel had six phones and was in touch with the Bhatkals and Amir Reza Khan (another top IM operative)," the officer said.
In Pune, Siddiqui's cousin Afroz blamed the ATS for the death of his brother. Afroz, 50, who arrived in Pune from Delhi on Saturday to take possession of Siddiqui's body, said his brother was innocent and the ATS had implicated him falsely.
"The ATS arrested Siddiqui and took him to various places but could not gather any evidence against him. The court would have certainly taken note of this fact, which would have posed difficulties for the ATS," Afroz alleged.
Meanwhile, Qateel's younger brother Shakeel said his family was having a harrowing time because of the "inhumanity of the Delhi and Mumbai Police".
"When they needed him to point out locations and men, they transported him around in special helicopters. Now that my brother is dead, they're not even allowing us access to his body," Shakeel said.