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Rana lived near Gujarat police chief’s bungalow

mumbai Updated: Nov 22, 2009 02:23 IST
Stavan Desai
Stavan Desai
Hindustan Times

The National Investigation Agency and the Gujarat police’s Anti-Terrorism Squad have found that alleged Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT) operative Tahawwur Rana (48) had visited Ahmedabad three months after 21 synchronised bomb explosions rocked the city.

Fifty-nine people were killed in the July 26, 2008, serial blasts. Over a hundred were injured. Rana has been in the custody of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) since October 18, for planning terror attacks in India and Denmark.

He had travelled to Ahmedabad from Mumbai on a Go Air flight on November 18, 2008, investigations by the two agencies have revealed.

It has also been found that during their three-day visit to Ahmedabad, Rana and a woman, Samraz Rana Akhthar, lived at Hotel Lemon Tree in the Navrangpura area. The room was booked in Samraz’s name.

“The hotel is located behind Gujarat police chief S S Khandvawala’s bungalow,” said an official. Investigators have since seized the hotel’s guest register bearing entries made by Samraz. A joint NIA-Gujarat ATS team found that Rana had advertised his immigration services business and sought applications from youth aspiring to go abroad.

“He had interviewed applicants at the hotel,” the official said.

The joint team has so far questioned at least 15 of the youth. Rana and Samraz reportedly returned to Mumbai on November 21 on a Spicejet flight, and hours later travelled to Pakistan to join Headley (49).

Headley was under FBI watch for over a year, and functioned at the behest of Rana, before his arrest at Chicago’s O’Hare airport. Headley’s arrest led the FBI to Rana.

Inquiries about Rana’s stay and visit have revealed that a Mumbai-based travel agency had made, and paid for, the travel bookings. The agency is being identified with the help of airline authorities.