The Tripura police believe that the alleged mastermind of Tuesday’s copycat strikes — Zahibuddin Ansari alias Zabi, the prime accused on the Malegaon arms haul case — could have been hiding in the state. He probably fled Mumbai the day after the blasts.
A Border Security Force inspector, posted at Kamalpur close to the Bangladesh border, told the Dalai district police that he had seen Ansari at a local mosque. The BSF official identified Ansari from his photographs on television after the blasts.
Superintendent of Dalai Police Arindam Nath told the HT on Sunday that 11 members of a “hardline” Islamic sect had been rounded up on June 13 from near the Bangladesh border. All of them were from Mumbra in Thane district.
A special team of Maharashtra police would leave for Tripura to interrogate them, but the date was yet to be finalised. The group being interrogated by the Tripura police said one of their associates Faizal Ansari, admitted to a private clinic with a fracture, had left for Mumbai on July 12 — the day after the blasts.
According to them, Ansari, an auto-rickshaw driver from Thane, had fractured his hand in a road accident on June 16. He came to Agartala on June 26 and got himself admitted to a local hospital after the pain intensified.
“According to the BSF inspector’s description, Ansari was clad in jeans and T shirt. He was 5 ft 7 inches tall with a mole beneath his left eye. But he did not sport a beard. The description matched Zahibuddin’s photograph,” Nath said. The Dalai police chief doubted the authenticity of the youth’s claim as it was contradictory. “We have alerted our counterparts in Thane to check the veracity of the statement,” Nath added.
The police came across a series of calls made from a local booth to the United Kingdom, Bangkok, UAE and even Germany. “We are questioning them about the ISD calls,” Nath said. They will be interrogated by the Tripura police for “some more days”.
Six Bangladeshi nationals were also arrested from Portmouth village in South Andamans, the Port Blair police said on Sunday. Superintendent of police Jaspal Singh said the labourers were arrested on Sunday. The Mumbai police also raided 250 places on Sunday.