The Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad (ATS) on Thursday got custody of 27-year-old Ajaz Sheikh, an alleged Indian Mujahideen (IM) operative, in connection with his alleged role in the 13/7 serial blasts in Mumbai.
On July 13, 2011, three coordinated explosions at Opera House, Zaveri Bazaar and Dadar left 26 dead and 127 others injured.
Sheikh was arrested by the Delhi Police’s special cell near Saharanpur railway station in Uttar Pradesh in September this year. He was produced before the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime (MCOCA) court on Thursday and remanded in custody till December 18.
“We took Ajaz’s custody because we feel that he had played an active role in the Mumbai 13/7 blasts,” said Himanshu Roy, additional director general of police (ATS).
Sheikh, believed to be a key logistics man for IM, was arrested after interrogations of other arrested IM operatives revealed that he had sent emails to media houses after blasts at Jama Masjid in Delhi and Sheetla Ghat in Varanasi in 2010.
He is a resident of Mominpura at Ghorpade Peth in Pune. Police sources said Sheikh, a BCom degree holder, had pursued a diploma course in computers at an institute in Hyderabad.
“Ajaz left home in February this year. He told us that he was going to Bangalore to look for work and would return in three to four days,” said Ajaz’s brother Imtiaz Sheikh. “After a few days, bank recovery agents started coming to our residence and asking for money.”
Imtiaz and the family assumed that Ajaz had run away because he couldn’t pay off the loan. “In September, we found out from the news that Ajaz had been arrested,” he said.
ATS sources said Ajaz, the brother-in-law of wanted Indian Mujahideen operative Mohsin Chaudhary, had received money from Dubai and Kuwait through the hawala network, and has also been involved in supplying explosives to key IM men. Ajaz was directly in touch with chief of Indian Mujahideen Riyaz Bhatkal in Pakistan, and had arranged for Rs 50,000 for those who planted the explosives at Opera House, Zaveri Bazaar and Dadar, said police officials.
Ajaz’s father Sayeed Abdul Qadar Sheikh was waiting near the special MCOCA court on the Arthur Road jail premises on Thursday. He said that his son had told him not to worry.
Ajaz’s mother Halima could not control her tears when she saw her son being taken away by ATS officers and broke down. “My son has not done anything, he is being implicated,” she said.