When the smoke settled in the small dimly lit room, there were two bodies sprawled out in the middle. Outside, a bunch of policemen carried off their officer who was bleeding profusely from gunshot wounds.
<b1>The police described the two dead men as terrorists who were among those behind the September 13 blasts in Delhi that killed 23 people. One alleged terrorist, Mohammad Saif, was arrested and two got away.
The officer, Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma, succumbed to injuries in hospital. He had taken three bullets, the first volley fired by the terrorists at the police team that showed up at their doorstep at about 11 am.
"Those who were shot dead have been identified as Atif alias Basheer and Sajid. Atif was the mastermind behind all the recent serial blasts,” said police commissioner YS Dadwal at a crowded news conference.
Dadwal said Atif plotted the Saturday blasts and was also involved in the Ahmedabad blasts on July 26, Jaipur blasts on May 13, and one of the August 25 blasts last year in Hyderabad. Sajid was described as bomb-maker.
The commissioner said Atif was in-charge of arranging explosives and manufacturing bombs that were used in the attacks. And he was said to have been living in this flat with others for the last two months.
“Explosives made by him and his team bore their signature — two detonators, wooden frame, ammonium nitrate and analog quartz clocks,” Dadwal said. The same bombs had been used in all the recent blasts.
The encounter took place at L-18 in Batla House, Jamia Nagar. The police team landed at around 10:00 am, following investigations that had been on for a while now. The shootout began at 11 am and lasted 15 minutes.
The police seized two laptops, several mobile phones, and bags from the flat whose examination is expected to yield clues to this terror module's involvement in other attacks.
Atif is alleged to have reached Delhi straight after planning the Ahmedabad blasts, which killed 55 people. He left two days before the explosions, arriving here with nine people.
And they set forth planning the Delhi blasts, which according to suspects arrested for the Jaipur blasts, was to be the last leg of Operation BAD – B standing for Bangalore, A for Ahmedabad and D for Delhi.
“Atif recceed the blast-sites that were targetted during the September 13 serial blasts,” said special cell joint commissioner of police Karnail Singh, adding, “We have scientific evidence to show his presence there.”
He was in Delhi on the day of the blasts.
The police said they got on to Atif’s trail six months ago when he left a message at the Mumbai home of terror mastermind Shubhan Qureshi alias Taukir, who is being called India’s Osama bin Laden, seeking a meeting.
Atif was so obsessively secretive about his movements he didn’t even give Taukir his cell number. But they worked as a team – Atif led the Indian Mujahideen modules while Taukir headed the pro-jihadi SIMI modules.