In a major breakthrough in the August 25 twin bomb blasts in Hyderabad that claimed 44 lives, a key suspect has reportedly been arrested in Bangladesh and the authorities here have begun efforts to get him extradited.
Abu Hamza alias Abdul Bari, one of the most wanted terrorists of Andhra Pradesh, was arrested in Bangladesh, four days after August 25 blasts here at a park and a famous eatery.
Police sources said members of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the blasts would soon leave for New Delhi to meet Intelligence Bureau officials and begin the process of extraditing Hamza, blamed for all terrorist activities in Hyderabad since the 2002 blast at a temple in Dilsukhnagar, which killed three people.
Hamza's arrest followed the pressure mounted on Bangladesh through diplomatic channels to act against terror groups based in that country. Police officials admitted that extraditing Hamza would not be an easy task as there is no extradition treaty between the two countries.
Officials in New Delhi also pointed out that the SIT would find it difficult to move Hamza to India as there was no Red Corner notice pending against him.
This is despite the fact that just last month home secretaries of both India and Bangladesh promised swift action against insurgents taking shelter in each other's countries and promised to fight terrorism as a common threat.
Both sides have in the past accused each other of harbouring terrorists and criminals who staged cross border attacks, an issue that has strained ties between the two countries.
Hamza, a native of Hyderabad, was one of the 15 persons against whom Hyderabad police had booked a case of criminal conspiracy on Saturday. They were charged with waging war against the nation.
This followed the revelation by Sheikh Abdul Nayeem alias Sameer, one of the four accused already in police custody. During a narco analysis test, Sameer reportedly said that 10 kg of the explosive RDX was brought into the city from Bangladesh this February on the orders of Abdul Shahid alias Bilal, the alleged mastermind behind the Aug 25 twin blasts and the May 18 blast at the historic Mecca Masjid, which claimed nine lives.
Shahid, a native of Hyderabad and south India 'commander' of Bangladesh-based Harkatul Jihad Islami (HUJI) is also suspected to be the brain behind a suicide attack on the police commissioner's task force office here in 2005. Hamza is believed to be the second in command of HUJI for south India.
With Hamza's arrest the police now want to speed up efforts to arrest Shahid, who is also believed to be in Bangladesh. CBI has already issued a red corner notice for Shahid, who is absconding for four years.
While 800 grams of RDX was used in the Mecca Masjid blast, the police were yet to trace the remaining RDX despite large-scale checking and questioning of dozens of suspects.
The terrorists used Neo Gel 90, a type of ammonium nitrate, in the twin blasts and the police fear that they might use the remaining explosives to trigger disturbances in the city, especially during the coming festival season.
Meanwhile, a suspect in Bangalore managed to give the slip to a police team from Hyderabad. Rizvan Gazi, a Bangladeshi, reportedly escaped when the police team was arguing with an auto rickshaw driver over the fare after reaching the place where he was hiding. Rizvan is the brother of a Bangladeshi woman called Shafeera Rustomjah, who was arrested in Charminar area of Hyderabad two days ago.
Rizvan, who resembled the suspected bomb planter at Lumbini Park whose sketch was released by the police last week, fled after his sister's arrest. They and their parents were staying illegally in Hyderabad for six years, the police alleged.
In another development, police have shifted two suspects to Bangalore for conducting narco analysis test. Abdul Kaleem and Syed Imran Khan, an executive at a corporate bank in the city, were arrested on charges of providing shelter to Shoaib Jagirdar, a native of Maharashtra, who was arrested in connection with the Mecca Masjid blast.
Kaleem had reportedly secured 50 mobile phone SIM cards and the police are trying to find out who he had secured the SIM cards for.
Police Sunday picked 10 youths from different parts of the city for questioning in connection with the twin blasts. Shahid's brother Abdul Majid has also been arrested by the police as efforts to trace the RDX intensified.
Since the Aug 25 blasts, the police have picked up about 40 people, most of them from old city, for questioning. The parents of these youths were worried and have expressed concern over the police not producing them before a court even after a week.
The police reportedly picked up a man called Masood from his house in the Saeedabad neighbourhood on suspicion that he met Shahid in Saudi Arabia. However, police officials were not confirming the arrests.