Pune appears to be the hotbed for terrorists.
Of the 20 suspected terrorists arrested by Mumbai’s Anti-Terrorism Squad in the last fortnight, eight are from Pune — software engineer Mohammad Mansoor Ashgar Peerbhoy (31), computer engineer Salman Kadar Shaikh (24), mechanical engineer Asif Bashir Sheikh (22), graphic designer Majid Akhtar Sheikh (26), Mohmmad Akbar Ismail Choudhary (28), who ran a computer repair shop, Anik Safiq Sayed (27) and Yashir Anees Sayed (20), who ran a computer and mobile repair shop. They are all members of the Indian Mujahideen (IM), the terror outfit said to be behind 17 bombings and 632 deaths across the country since 2005.
DCP (Special Crime Branch) Ravindra Sengaonkar told HT that the Pune police “have chalked out a policy in the changed circumstances”. He, however, refused to divulge any details saying it would affect the investigation process.
When asked if Pune was turning into a hub of anti-national activitists, he said: “One can operate even with the help of computer or cellphone because of advanced technology. It is difficult to monitor a city which has population of 60 lakh 24x7.”
Beefing up security, the police have started checks at all entry points to the city, checks on rented flats and instructed landlords to provide information of tenants. They are started collecting information on contractors and labourers working at Balewadi Stadium, where the Commonwealth Youth Games will be held from October 12.
In addition, a close watch is been kept on those who were or are associated with the banned Students Islamic Movement of India.
Mansoor’s father, Ashgar Peerbhoy, who lives in the Cantonment area, insisted: “My son is innocent, he has been implicated in the case. I will seek legal course to save him.”
The family of Majid, a resident of Kondhava, said they were worried as he had not come home for a long time and his cellphone was unreachable. Usually, Majid used to visit his family once in a week.
While Yashir’s house was locked, his neighbours said the family had lodged missing person’s complaint.
Meanwhile, residents of Ashoka Mews in Kondhava are yet to recover from the shock that their neighbours were IM members.
Five IM members were arrested from flat number H-303 on September 24. A resident on condition of anonymity said the flat is owned by a person staying in the Cantonment area and he had rented it out to a doctor couple six months back.