National Investigation Agency (NIA) sleuths, probing the Patna and Bodh Gaya bomb blasts, recovered on Saturday a huge cache of live bombs and explosives in fields and hideouts at Ranchi’s Sithio village.
Altogether 18 live bombs, six timers, over 20 detonators and other substances used in improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were found in paddy fields, around half a kilometre from Sithio.
Two people, identified as Firoz Aslam and Iftekhar Alam, were arrested for their alleged links with militant outfits. A couple identified as Bhola and Afsana Khatoon have been detained for interrogation for allegedly giving refuge to IM operative Nauman Ansari after the Patna serial blasts. Ansari, the sister of Afsana Khatoon, was arrested by the NIA a fortnight ago in Ranchi.
Over the last eight months, the NIA has arrested at least six suspected SIMI and Indian Mujahideen (IM) operatives from Jharkhand, including IM second-in-command Haider Ali. NIA officials said they carried out simultaneous raids at Hindpiri, Sithio and Karballa Chowk in Ranchi on Saturday following a tip-off from the arrested men.
“The raids are on. The NIA team has got valuable clues from the arrested militants,” said Hatia DSP Nisha Murmu, who was part of the raid team. DSP Murmu said the bombs were defused by the bomb disposal squad of the elite Jharkhand Jaguar combat force in an open field.
Sithio shot to infamy last year when suspects involved in the October bomb blasts in Patna, during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s election rally, were traced to this nondescript village on the outskirts of Jharkhand’s capital Ranchi.