In the biggest lead so far to emerge in the Gujarat terror attack, investigators told HT that have found the photograph of a man who drove one of the four stolen cars that were used in spreading terror in Ahmedabad and Surat.
The cars were stolen from Navi Mumbai in the second week of July, and were driven down to the Gujarat cities through Pune.
Top intelligence officials, who did not want to be named, told HT that close circuit television cameras installed at a Pune toll tax booth took snaps — a routine — of at least one of the drivers as he was passing through.
Two of the stolen cars were used in Saturday’s serial blasts in Ahmedabad that killed more than 50 people. Two others were found abandoned in Surat the day after, packed with explosives.
The photographs have been passed on to police in Mumbai and Ahmedabad. A senior official said, along with the Intelligence Bureau, they have launched a massive manhunt to identify and trace the man.
A senior official in the Mumbai Anti-Terrorism Squad confirmed that they had got the photographs of the car and the driver. But no investigator was willing to reveal how many of these stolen cars had been photographed.
“If we are able to trace the man driving the car, we could get to the other members of the module,” the official said.
"Either this man is part of the terror module, and could even be the bomber, or he was given a contract to steal the cars and deliver it to someone," the official said. He said even if the driver had just stolen the car, he could lead the investigators to the people to whom he delivered the cars.
Investigations have further revealed that the e-mail ID used to send the terror mails to television channel minutes before the Ahmedabad blasts was created at 6.30 p.m. on the day of the blast. The e-mail was sent to television channels at 6.40 pm.
"This means, the person who sent the mails was present in the Navi Mumbai building for around 20 minutes during which he created the e-mail ID and sent the mails," the official said. This person used the Wi-fi connection of American national Kenneth Haywood.
It has also been revealed that the mail contents had been scanned and a PDF file made, which was sent to the person who finally e-mailed it to television channels on July 24.