Rakesh Maria has his task cut out even before he takes over as chief of the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS).
He will be under tremendous pressure to crack the German Bakery blast case, which is yet to see a breakthrough. The blast took place in the popular Pune eatery on February 13 killing 17 and injuring 57.
The outgoing crime branch boss accepted that the ATS has its hands full with several important cases. “There is the Pune blast case, which everyone expects me to solve,” he said.
Maria, who is likely to take over from K P Raghuvanshi on Monday, refused to comment on what his immediate priority will be. “It’s a completely different assignment and it is definitely a very challenging job,” Maria said about his new posting.
The ATS is also handling the latest arrest of two suspected terrorists and the 2008 Malegaon blasts, which has come under strict media scrutiny. The ATS is also investigating suspended Indian Police Service officer, Saji Mohan’s, case and the blast at Thane’s Gadkari theatre in 2008. Both cases are at crucial stages.
The 7/11 train bombing case, which the ATS investigated, is pending in the Supreme Court over the applicability of the Maharashtra Control Organised Crime Act in the case.
The ATS has also been carrying out operations against Naxalites and fake currency operators.
Maria, who is credited with solving some major terror plots, said heading the ATS will be a different game. Maria said tackling terror is challenging because terror groups keep mutating. “From each act they carry out, they learn lessons and try to avoid anything that has got them busted earlier,” Maria said.
He added that gathering intelligence will be crucial. “The underworld can be tapped into easily, but to gather information about terror operations you need to get your people deep into them,” Maria said.