Members of the state’s first Islamic State (IS) cell were planning to carry out serial blasts at Deva Shareef—the shrine of most-revered Sufi saint, Waris Ali Shah—on March 27, the Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) has found.
Details of an elaborate plan to attack the shrine were recovered from a laptop used by one of the cell’s member, who was picked up after a blast on Bhopal-Ujjain passenger train on Tuesday.
Two youths — Faizan and Imran of Kanpur — were picked up after the blast, another Saifullah was neutralised in Lucknow while a mobile shop owner Azhar of Kanpur escaped.
Sources said the bombs used in the explosion were a part of a ‘trial’ to test the efficacy of the explosives that the IS cell had planned to use at the Sufi shrine.
According to sources, apart from a map of the shrine, a laptop with some jihadi videos of attacks on shrines in Pakistan was recovered from Faizan’s possession.
A suicide bomber had struck the crowded Sufi shrine Shahbaz Lal Qalandar in Pakistan killing at least 75 people in February. The Islamic State had claimed responsibility for the blast.
During interrogation, Faizan has told the ATS that the eight-member IS cell was planning to replicate the attack on Deva Shareef, sources said. The accused also claimed to have visited the shrine to conduct recce several times with his brother Imran.
The ATS technical team that is looking into the contents of the laptop, said the emails and chats would help them to identify the cell’s handlers both in India and overseas, like in Syria and Bangladesh.