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The Jharkhand police and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) sleuths missed Hyder Ali — prime suspect in the Patna serial blasts — by a whisker during a raid in Iram lodge in Hindpiri area of Ranchi on November 4.
“At the time of the raid the ATM card used by Hyder Ali was found to have been swiped at a nearby ATM machine suggesting his presence there. During the search it was found that Ali was living in a lodge across Iram where the IEDs used in Patna blasts were fabricated. Both Ali and Mujibullah managed to escape,” said a counter-terror official requesting anonymity.
Investigators believe that Ali acted as a point-person for Indian Mujahideen (IM) operations head Tehseen Akhtar for raising a group of operatives now being termed as the Ranchi module of the IM in the security establishment.
Ali, 25, is a resident of Khariyama village in Aurangabad district of Bihar and for the last few months was living in Ranchi’s Line Mohalla Doranda.
“Hyder Ali arranged a meeting of Imtiaz Ansari, the alleged bomb planter arrested at the Patna railway station, with Akhtar,” said a senior investigator.
Akhtar, according to counter terror officials, possibly crossed over to Nepal after the Patna serial blasts.
Earlier, the NIA had tried to get to Ali through a witness Mehre Alam, who told the NIA sleuths that Ali had a hideout at Mirpur village in Muzaffarpur district of Bihar. But was not found there and during the search mission, Alam also disappeared from Sidharth lodge in Muzaffarpur on October 30. Almost a week later, Alam again appeared in his village in Darbhanga district.
Sources say the two NIA inspectors accompanying Alam didn’t stay with them at Sidharth lodge as they didn’t like the place. Only a constable and a head constable were staying with Alam when he disappeared on the pretext of answering nature’s call.
“There is no question of taking any action against anybody as Alam was just a witness and was free to go anywhere. He was not in our custody,” said a senior NIA official.
Interestingly, it was there is an FIR registered with local police in connection with disappearance of Alam under section 224 of the Indian Penal Code which deals with charges of escaping from custody.