Salman Ahmed, 21, alias Chhotu, allegedly planted his first bomb when he was still in school. Ahmed, an alleged member of the Indian Mujahideen, has told the police that the outfit is “regrouping” and they are out on a “bigger mission”.
Ahmed, trained in Pakistan and a founding member of the IM, was radicalised at the age of 17 by Mohammad Saif, one of the alleged bombers arrested from Batla House after the infamous encounter in September 2008. Both Saif and Ahmed belong to Sanjarpur in Azamgarh district in UP, police said. After the Delhi blasts, that killed 21 people, 16 IM members were arrested. When the Delhi blasts took place, Ahmed was pursuing Bachelors in Computer Application (BCA) from an institute under the Sikkim Manipal University in Lucknow.
“After a brief lull, the IM is regrouping again. Ahmed was in charge of resurrecting the Mohammad Ghaznavi Brigade formed for terrorist strikes in northern India, which was earlier headed by Atif Ameen who was killed in the Batla House encounter. They are preparing for an extremely lethal mission,” said a senior police officer.
Ahmed planted his first bomb at Gorakhpur in UP on May 23, 2007. The bomb was a trial run for the IM’s first operation.
It was after this that serial blasts rocked Varanasi, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Surat and Delhi over the next one year—all executed by the IM. Ahmed was allegedly part of all these.
“Before returning to Nepal where he lived as Fahid Ansari, Ahmed worked at a laundry in Dubai. He had gone there in September 2009 on a passport procured on fake documents,” said the officer. Police said part of Ahmed’s schooling was in Mumbai.
On Sunday, Ahmed, arrested from Sidharthanagar near the Indo-Nepal border by the UP police, was produced in court. “His mobile phone log has details of several international numbers and we have to unearth these contacts,” the Special Cell informed the court. The court sent Ahmed to eight days police remand.