Tuesday's Varanasi blast, may have been masterminded by a doctor and a pharmacist, both of whom hail from Azamgarh and are hiding outside the country since the Batla House encounter of September 2008.
Mohammad Shahnawaz, (27), the doctor and Asadullah Akhtar alias Asadullah Khan, (25), the pharmacist, allegedly planned the attack from Sharjah and Dubai, where they both are presently based.
Both are key members of Indian Mujahideen, a home grown terror outfit, believed to be a shadow amalgam of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). The IM has owned responsibility for the attack, linking it to the Ayodhya verdict.
"Let's all feel the pain together," read an e-mail, delivered to media organisation, minutes after the blast.
Shahnawaz, who is BUMS doctor, is elder brother of Mohd Saif, who was arrested in Batla House encounter in Jamia Nagar locality. Shahnawaz was allegedly involved in the Delhi serial blasts and after the blasts he stayed in Lucknow, for two years between 2006 to 2008.
Sources said Shahnawz did his BUMS course from the medical institute of Bihar's Siwan district. Later, he shifted his base to Lucknow and completed his internship from Balrampur government hospital in Wazirganj area between January 2007 to February 2008.
Shahnawaz had worked with a reputed private hospital of Gomtinagar area for six months, when his name surfaced in Delhi's serial blasts in September 2008.
A doctor, who had done his internship along with Shahnawaz, reportedly said his activity was suspicious and he used to keep himself isolated even during his internship period.
An Anti Terror Squad official reportedly said, Shahnawaz's name cropped up after the arrest of his brother Saif. The Delhi police raided his native place in Azamgarh's Saraimeer locality but were unable to find him. accordign to reports, the Delhi police has declared a Rs 1 lakh reward on Dr Shahnawaz.
An ATS official said Shahnawaz stayed in Lucknow at two different locations in Lucknow-Khadra locality in Hasanganj police and in Khandari Bazar locality in Kaiserbagh police area. He reportedly said Shahnawaz involvement was also suspected in the UP serial blasts in the court premises of Lucknow, Faizabad and Varanasi on November 23, 2007.
Besides, Shahnawaz is also believed to be instrumental in the daring escape of two ultras Maqsood and Saeed of Laskhar-e-Taiba (LeT) from the Lucknow court premises in February 2007. Both LeT militants were allegedly arrested for attacking CRPF camp at Red Fort in Delhi.
ATS sources said Shahnawaz had done his medical internship in Lucknow's Balrampur hospital. The hospital is situated next to district and sessions court, from where the two LeT ultras had escaped.
Profile of Asadullah Akhtar
Asadullah Akhtar alias Asadullah Khan (25), the pharmacist, a resident of Ghulami ka Pura in Azamgarh district, allegedly carries a Rs 1 lakh reward and had fled the country in October 2008.
Sources said Asadullah is staying in Saudi Arabia. He is linked to Delhi serial blasts along with eight other youths of Azamgarh. Sources in UP ATS said Asadullah had played a key role in assembling the timer devices used in Delhi serial blasts.
He was the person who allegedly lured Hakim, who was arrested by the ATS in Lucknow in January 2009, into the terror plot.
"Asadullah along with seven others was allegedly involved in planting the timer devices in Greater Kailash and Connaught Place areas," said an ATS official. He said one of the co-accused Sarwar, who was arrested from Lucknow's Vikasnagar, revealed during interrogation that they were also involved in the Jaipur blast on May 13, 2008.
Asadullah was allegedly involved in planting the timer devices in Greater Kailash and Connaught Place areas in Delhi blast on May 13, 2008.
Asadullah has a degree of B Pharma from Integral University, Lucknow. He stayed in different locations in the State capital and worked with Shahnawaz. His father Dr Javed Akhtar, who is a leading orthopaedic surgeon of Azamgarh, had reportedly contested the 2009 Lok Sabha elections from Azamgarh under the banner of Ulema Council, which was formed to get "justice for Muslim youths framed in terrorist activities."
The police also interrogated the doctor after his son was reportedly last seen visiting his house, a day after the Batla House encounter in Delhi.