The Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) have arrested two 35-year-old Unani doctors and members of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India for their alleged role in plotting the September 8 blasts in the power-loom town, who according to the investigating agency, were also closely linked to the Lashkar e Tayyeba's city module that had executed the 11/7 train blasts in the city.
The arrested doctors, Salman Farsi Abdul Latif Awami and Faruq Iqbal Ahmed Magdumi, were on Monday night arrested and charged under the stringent MCOCA (Maharashtra Control of Organised Act, 1999) and remanded to police custody till November 21 on Tuesday.
A resident of Malegaon, Salman and his family—wife Naveeda and two kids—stay at a chawl at the Shivajinagar slum in Govandi; Faruq stays at Malegaon. Both are "close associates" of the alleged mastermind battery manufacturer Shabbir Masiullah and have played a key role in plotting and executing the Malegaon blasts, according to ATS chief Joint Police Commissioner KP Raghuvanshi.
HT had reported the doctors's alleged involvement in the blasts and ATS's search for them.
Farsi and Faruq, according to top blasts investigators, along with Shabbir are closely linked to a key 11/7 blasts accused—Mohammed Ali, who in turn took orders directly from Lashkar's western India 'commander' and the alleged 11/7 blasts mastermind, engineering dropout Faisal Sheikh—and are suspected to be the link between the Mumbai and Malegaon blasts.
Farsi, incidentally, is a next-door neighbour of Mohammed and has been known to interact on a regular basis. Farsi's and Mohammed's shanties are metres away from each other and are located in plot number 33, gully number Five, at Shivajinagar, while Farsi's clinic-cum-dispensary is located close by; the neighbourhood lies close to the Shivajinagar police station.
"Salman Farsi, Faruq and Shabbir are close associates of Mohammed Ali. Salman and Mohammed are also neighbours. We are probing a link between them and the 11/7 blasts accused that cannot be ruled out at this stage. We may interrogate Salman and Mohammed Ali jointly," said Raghuvanshi.
According to ATS, Farsi and Faruqi had allegedly taken part in several meetings in Malegaon, called in by Shabbir and absconding suspect Mohammed Zahid, during February to May this year to "smuggle in RDX with help of Pakistani members of a terror outfit and plot the September blasts". The RDX used in the Malegaon blasts, said Raghuvanshi, "were smuggled in with the help of Pakistani elements in May".
When asked, Raghuvanshi clarified that the RDX smuggled in for Malegaon was separate from the huge stock of the RDX seized by it on May 9. But ATS, said sources, are verifying the linkage between the two. Masiullah was linked to the Aurangabad arms case's masterminds Zahibuddin Ansari and Faiyaz Kagzi.
ATS has taken cotton swabs off the floor and other household articles from Salman's residence and clinic that have been sent for forensic examination to find traces of RDX. The agency believes Salman could have stored the smuggled-in explosives at his house, which could have use to assembling bombs as well.
It was at Mohammed's shanty where Faisal's module had assembled the seven RDX-based explosives that were used in the 11/7-terror attack. Mohammed had sent Shabbir for training in Pakistan in 2004.
The ATS have seized loads of "seditious printed material in Persian, English and Hindi languages, note-books containing news cuttings, and code numbers" from Salman's clinic, while printouts of Faruqi's mobile phone's call-records have been sought.