The crucial lead on the blasts’ alleged mastermind came to investigators from Bharuch. It started when a few residents of the city approached the police and claimed to have seen “a few suspicious-looking men in the process of changing the number plates of two Maruti Wagon-Rs”. Further enquiries threw up the name of Mufti Abu Bashar.
The Ahmedabad Crime Branch, the chief investigating agency, found out that one of the Wagon Rs had been used for one of the 17 blasts that rocked Ahmedabad on July 26, while the other, packed with explosives, was recovered later in Surat. The name also matched with the records of four mobile phone numbers found to be active near the one of the blast sites on the fateful day. That was when the Gujarat police approached the Intelligence Bureau (IB) with a request for information on Bashar, confirmed an IB officer.
The IB, in turn, sounded out various state police teams. That was when the Andhra Pradesh police’s Counter Intelligence Cell (CIC) came up with the missing link — they not only had a voluminous dossier on the Bashar, but they also had his picture.
Arvind Rao, Additional Director-General of Police (Intelligence), Hyderabad, told HT that Bashar, , also known as Abdul Rashid, a senior operative of the Students Islamic Movement of India and a close aide of its arrested chief Safdar Nagori, had stayed in Hyderabad for two years between 2005 and 2007. “He was employed as editor of a monthly magazine, Raah-e-Nishaan (Milestones),” said Rao.
The CIC sent Bashar’s dossier to the Union home ministry on Wednesday. He was picked up the same day from his home in Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh.