In December first week, central intelligence agencies intercepted a conversation on mobiles.
Two persons based in Nepal then, were discussing the November 20, 2016 derailment of the Indore-Patna Express at Kanpur. Their antennae were up immediately.
One person was telling the other that “Keel-khunti nikalney se kaam hua. Bomb laganey sey kucch nahin hua”(The job was done by removing the clips and plates, nothing could be achieved by planting bombs).”
The intercept within the first two weeks after the incident, which killed 148, made it clear that there was a terror angle to it and led to the arrests of Mohammad Muhazir and Braj Kishore Giri soon after. Their confessions led to the unravelling of a whole gang, which specialised in such sabotage, highly placed officials in the Bihar police told HT on Wednesday.
So far, based on intelligence input, seven terror suspects have been arrested: three in Nepal and four around Motihari on the Indian side. The interrogations have revealed a shift in the modus operandi of terrorists to inflict heavy damage even without use of explosives and weapons and by using new modules comprising local people with Maoist links.
According to IB sources, Giri, suspected of murder of two people and a prime mover in getting bomb plants on Ghorasahan railway tracks, was on the police radar. A raiding Nepalese police party of Bara district, however, ran into an encounter with him, during which Giri suffered an injury. He was nabbed even as he was fleeing and his brother-in-law, Shambhu alias ‘’Laddu’’, an accomplice in his operations, from Nepal.
“Further interrogation of Giri led to more clues and on that basis four persons - Umashankar Patel alias Raju, Mukesh Yadav, Mintu alias Moti Paswan and Bittu - were picked up from Motihari. All the four have Maoist links since 2008,” they added.
During interrogation, Mintu Paswan revealed that one Shamshul Hoda of Bara district in Nepal, who also contested parliamentary elections in the Himalayan country and is currently living in some gulf country, was the financer of Giri, who in turn paid local modules for carrying out subversive activities.
“Hoda is said to be into fake notes racket and has ISI links,” said intelligence sources, adding two persons of Motihari - Dipak Ram and Arun Ram - had been hired for planting bomb at Ghorasahan railway track in Motihari.
“They did plant bomb, but it did not go off, when the train passed. The police later discovered the high intensity bomb on information from locals and defused it. Hoda was then informed about the unsuccessful attempt and both Rams were called to Nepal only to be killed for their failure. A video of their killing was posted to Hoda. Both the bodies were recovered from Nepal on December 28, 2016, even as their kin registered an FIR with the police claiming they had gone missing.
Intelligence sources said that Mintu admitted to have received Rs 50,000 for carrying out another operation in Kanpur with his team, while Giri got Rs 7.5-lakh and another one, Gajendra Sharma, who is still missing, got another Rs 7.5-lakh. Raju, who was picked up from Motihari, is said to be an expert in fabricating improvised explosive devices and was paid Rs 2-lakh.
“Giri’s bank account has entry of Rs 30-lakh and it has been traced,” said sources, adding search was on for Gajendra Sharma and one of his missing associates, Rakesh Yadav, both from Bakhri village in Ghorasahan.
Mintu, according to sources, admitted having changed different trains to reach Kanpur with a gas cutter, where he damaged the track at the intersection point by removing the pandrol clips and cutting some portion of the track. “Further interrogation is on and some more suspects might be picked up from UP and Delhi also,” they added.