Close to 20 days after the blasts in commuter trains and several arrests later, the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of the Mumbai Police on Saturday made its first arrest under the terror law Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). Ethesham Siddiqui, a resident of Mira Road, was arrested for his alleged links with the outlawed Student's Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). He has been remanded to police custody till August 12.
According to ATS DIG Jaijeet Singh, UAPA was used against Siddiqui as SIMI is one of the organizations listed for terrorist and anti-national activities. “We came across volumes of SIMI and Jehadi literature when we raided his residence,” he said, adding: “This shows his close association with the banned outfit.” Asked if Siddiqui had any hand in the 11/7 blasts or ties with any of the accused arrested in the case, Singh said: “As of now we have not come across any such link. But we are probing this aspect.”
This isn’t the first time Siddiqui has been arrested. A top ATS source told HT that he was arrested in 2001 from SIMI's Mumbai headquarters in Kurla soon after the organization was outlawed. One of the other accused arrested in the blast case, Dr Tanvir Ahmad Ansari, was also arrested at that time.
Like Ansari, Siddiqui kept in touch with SIMI after he was released on bail. He is currently state general secretary of the outfit and is in charge of its jehadi and anti-national propaganda, the source said. His name cropped up during Ansari’s interrogation.
During the raid on his house, the police also came across a receipt book enlisting a large group of donors and sympathizers of SIMI in the state. The police have thus concluded that Siddiqui was also involved in raising funds for SIMI. At least 60 such donors and active members have been identified and they are likely to face arrest in the coming days.
The ATS is calling Siddiqui a prized catch. “His interrogation is likely to give us insight into the activities of SIMI cadre and their association with outfits like the LeT and JeM,” a top official said.