Revelations by Abdul Qadir Mohammed Ansari, who was arrested on Monday, and Tabrez Mohammad Jamal Sayyed, who was apprehended a day earlier, give further evidence of a conspiracy to sabotage the Azad Maidan rally, police sources have claimed.
A senior crime branch officer told HT on Tuesday that the information provided by the duo pointed to a plot hatched by hardline Islamic groups to create trouble. HT was the first to report that the violence was not just an emotional outburst, but a conspired act.
Sources claimed that Ansari, a regular at a madarsa in Jogeshwari, was part of a large group motivated into sabotaging the rally. Several preachers addressed students at the madarsa on different occasions, highlighting alleged persecution of Muslims across the world, and exhorting revenge.
The source also said the students were exposed to several doctored images and provocative speeches. Meetings for the preparation of violence at the rally followed at several other places too. Many from the group eventually took part in the violence.
Joint commissioner of police, crime, Himanshu Roy, confirmed that Ansari, like many in his group, had attended the motivational sessions at Jogeshwari, which formed a part of the larger conspiracy.
Sources said that on August 8, the other accused Tabrez attended a similar meeting in south-central Mumbai. Police have recovered video clippings of the meeting from his cell phone.