Senior officials of the Uttar Pradesh anti-terrorist squad (ATS) and of Noida police said they were surprised after people arrested from Hindon Vihar and Sadarpur areas of Noida had alleged Maoist links.
The arrests, which came after raids on Saturday night, also led to the recovery of detonators and gelatin rods from the possession of the accused.
A total of 45 gelatin sticks, 125 detonators, 88 cartridges, seven pistols and four cars, including two bearing Ghaziabad registration numbers, were recovered from the accused.
Officials from Uttar Pradesh ATS said that they were ‘alarmed’ after the recovery of detonators and gelatin sticks that are used to carry out explosions. The officials, however, are still clueless about where how and where the explosives were going to be used.
“Initially, we suspected that the accused were just involved with criminal gangs of western UP. But as the raids progressed, we recovered gelatin rods and detonators from Sadarpur. We suspect that they were planning something big during Diwali,” said Asim Arun, inspector general (UP-ATS).
“We do not yet know the target of the arrested accused or their motive behind storing such a huge amount of material used in explosives. We are also trying to trace the origins of an INSAS rifle which was recovered from one of the accused who was nabbed from Chandoli in eastern UP on information provided by the accused. However, we do not think they arrested men are part of any terror organisation,” said Arun.
The officials said that members of other Central agencies will soon arrive to grill the accused persons.
Six of the arrested accused were nabbed from Hindon Vihar and were residing in a rented flat whose owner hails from Indirapuram. Three other members of the group were arrested from Sadarpur.
“The accused had a property dealing office at Noida and were using it as a cover. A tip off about the suspicious activities of the six persons was provided to Noida Police by a local resident. The police then put the men on surveillance. We decided to conduct raids and arrest them after finding out that they were planning to bring AK-47s from Bihar to Noida,” Arun said.
Saturday’s arrests have also brought to the fore the fact that Noida and adjoining areas, which are lagging in terms of tenant verification, had become safe havens for criminals.
Officials, however, said the tenant verification drive could not be completed as they did not have enough manpower.
“Residents must stay alert and come forward if they notice any suspicious activities. The house owners should also approach police immediately whenever they rent their rooms or flats. We conduct special verification drives. In the present case, the accused had provided fake ids to their landlord,” said Dharmendra Singh, senior superintendent of police.