Five days after 23 bombs rocked Ahmedabad, killing 56 people and injuring over 200, the Gujarat police’s investigations were going nowhere. Coming up at dead end after dead end, investigators were at their wit’s end.
Then, they spotted something unusual in four cellphone records they had been analysing. No calls were ever made from those numbers; they were used only to receive calls. And all the calls they received were from public phone booths. All the numbers were discontinued after July 26, 2008, the day the bombs went off.
It was this number trail that led to Uttar Pradesh resident Mufti Abu Bashir, who the police claimed on Saturday was the mastermind of the terror attack. Police said a software expert employed with a multi-national in Mumbai, who’s on the run, partnered Bashir in planning the blasts.
In all, police arrested 10 men, including Bashir, all alleged members of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI).
The other accused are youths from Ahmedabad and Vadodara — Jahid Sheikh, Sajid Mansuri, Yunus Mansuri, Samsuddin Sheikh, Arif Kadri, Gyasuddin, Imran, Usman Agarbattiwala, Iqbal Sheikh and Asif Kagzi — allegedly recruited by Bashir and the software expert.
“Our investigations show that the outfit that calls itself ‘Indian Mujahideen’ is a SIMI offshoot,” said Gujarat Director-General of Police PC Pande.
The Gujarat police claim of having solved the case came five days after Intelligence Bureau chief PC Haldar met their top officials.
As first reported by the Hindustan Times on July 28, police said the blasts were planned such that a series of low- and medium-intensity bombs would first go off across the city to divert the police’s attention, while high-intensity blasts at hospitals would later cause the maximum damage.
This case is the first among 12 such attacks in the last two years in which the alleged masterminds and their accomplices have been arrested.