Anti-terror investigators disagree with Abdus Subhan Qureshi's mother Zubeida’s claim in Mumbai on Wednesday that he had snapped links with the entire family since 2001.
Qureshi aka Tauqeer Bilal was in 'regular but discreet' touch with his family, including his parents and wife, till at least early 2006, said an officer of the Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS).
The officer —who had 'grilled' Zubeida in connection with the July 11, 2006 blasts —said she herself had given statements to the Mumbai Police regarding this in July/August 2006.
The Mumbai police had grilled Zubeida and her relatives for weeks as they were looking for Qureshi and his brother-in-law and fellow SIMI (Students Islamic Movement of India) member Illiyas Khan. Both were suspects in the terror attack.
"Her mother, Zubeida, had told us then that she had given Subhan Rs 5 lakh to buy a flat at Naya Nagar in Mira Road. Subhan bought the flat at Highland Park apartments with this money and that is where his wife and two kids—a daughter and son—stay," the officer, who requested anonymity since he is not authorised to talk to the media, told HT.
The Qureshis run a 'flourishing' business in raw meat and were based in Dongri, south Mumbai.
The Mumbai Police, though, had not been able to track either Qureshi or Khan at that time.
Qureshi was seen to be a 'personal friend' of Faisal Sheikh, the alleged mastermind of the 11/7 Mumbai terror attacks, and two other accused, Ehtesham Siddiqui and Naved Khan.
Sheikh, Siddiqui and Khan are currently facing trial in the 11/7 case.
The country's anti-terror agencies are searching for Qureshi since early 2002, and not 2006.
Officials probing Saturday blasts have realised that Qureshi was arrested once —the first time —in December 2001 by the Surat police. He later jumped bail and vanished.
"Subhan Qureshi and 122 other senior SIMI members were arrested by the Surat police on December 28, 2001, during an unlawful convention they had organised to espouse the cause of jihad", said a senior officer from the Ahmedabad Crime Branch.
Apart from Qureshi, others who attended that convention were Qayamuddin Kapadia aka Ashfaque and former SIMI chief Safdar Nagori. Ashfaque is a suspect in Saturday’s blasts.
Over the years, exhibiting his talents in cyber/explosives technology, Qureshi rose through the ranks in SIMI to a point when he replaced Nagori after the latter's arrest in March.
At that time, Qureshi was the SIMI's points man for funding and coordinating with other outfits.