The National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Jharkhand Police on Monday seized nine live bombs and 25 gelatin sticks from a lodge in Ranchi, working on information sourced from suspects held in connection with the October 27 serial blasts in Patna.
According to the police, the improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were found in the basement of Eram Lodge at Third Street, Hindpiri, in the heart of the Jharkhand capital.
An official privy to the probe said the seized gelatin sticks had timers resembling those used in the Patna blasts on the day of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) prime ministerial face Narendra Modi’s rally in the Bihar capital.
Following the seizure, the police issued an alert over Gujarat chief minister Modi’s scheduled visit to Jharkhand in December.
Jharkhand director general of police (DGP) Rajeev Kumar said, “We have been able to defuse one bomb. The process is on to identify the capacity of the bombs and defuse all of them.”
The police believe suspected Indian Mujahedeen (IM) operative and 2008 Ahmedabad serial blasts accused Manzar Imam, who was arrested in March, is the owner of the lodge.
The police, however, declined to say who was posing as the proprietor of the lodge if Imam was the owner.
The Patna blasts probe spotlight is on Jharkhand, where the conspiracy is suspected to have been hatched.
“The NIA and the police are conducting a series of raids. We suspect the IM had a much deeper presence in Ranchi than estimated,” DGP Kumar said, declining to divulge specifics.
An investigator associated with the probe said the main chunk of the information that led the NIA and the police to the lodge came from Uzair Ahmad, a Ranchi-based engineer.
The NIA detained Ahmad last week on charges of fundraising activities for the IM and alleged involvement in the 2012 Delhi blasts.
The investigator, who did not want to be named, added, “The timers found with the gelatin sticks at the lodge are similar to the ones recovered from Patna blasts suspect Imtiaz Ansari’s home at Sithio in Ranchi.”
Raids began in Ranchi following Ansari’s questioning by the Bihar Police.
Ansari was arrested from Patna junction while fleeing after an accidental blast in a toilet at the station on October 27 morning — a few hours before Modi addressed the BJP’s Hunkar (battle cry) rally at Gandhi Maidan.
Apart from Sithio, around 15 places in Ranchi have been raided by the NIA so far.