Ansari’s journey from MBBS to ‘Dr Bomb’Updated: Jan 17, 2020 23:53 IST
The transformation of Jalees Ansari, from a mill worker’s son who completed MBBS from Lokmanya Tilak Medical College in Sion in central Mumbai and joined the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) as a junior medical officer to becoming the police department’s ‘Dr Bomb’ who helped set off 50 explosions in Ajmer, Pune, Hyderabad, Malegaon in 1993, began in 1985 at a meeting in the Ahl-e-Hadis Mosque in Mominpura in Agripada area of south Mumbai.
A TADA court in Ajmer sentenced Ansari to life term on February 28, 2004 for his role in the blasts. Lodged in Arthur Road jail in Byculla, he went missing on January 16, a day before his parole ended, and was arrested from Kanpur on Friday.
At the gathering in 1985, activists of the Ahl-e-Hadis’s ultra-conservative Gorba, a tribe from Chhattisgarh, faction spoke about the need for armed Muslim resistance to the wave of communal violence in India that year. One of the speakers was Azam Ghauri, the fifth of 11 children from an impoverished family in Andhra Pradesh, who had joined the communist People’s War Group (PWG), but later discovered religion and become what the Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad (ATS) called a dreaded Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operative. Among the others present were Abu Masood, a Gorba preacher from West Bengal, and Abdul Karim ‘Tunda’, who went on to become LeT’s top operative in India, according to the Maharashtra ATS. At the end of the meeting, they formed the Tanzim Islahul Muslimeen (TIM), an organisation committed to “the defence of Muslims during communal riots”. TIM’s early activities saw Ghauri and Tunda holding drills at the YMCA ground in Mominpura to teach cadre unarmed combat techniques as well as the use of lathis.
Among their most enthusiastic recruits was Ansari, whose father hailed from Uttar Pradesh and was a worker at the now-closed Raghuvanshi Mill on Senapati Bapat Marg in Worli in Mumbai. “Ansari, with Karim, learnt how to assemble bombs, and even visited Bangladesh to get training in handling explosives,” said Amitabh Yash, inspector general (IG) of police, special task force, Uttar Pradesh.
Ansari got his MBBS degree in 1972. He later told interrogators that he was embittered by the “ill treatment the Hindu colleagues at Lokmanya Tilak Medical College gave to Muslim patients”. According to Ansari, who described himself as a “secular-minded person”, the massacre of Muslims during the riots in Bhiwandi, a city in Thane, 21km from Mumbai, changed him completely and the demolition of the Babri Masjid and the riots that followed became the tipping point.
Led by Ghauri and Karim, Ansari helped execute the series of 43 explosions in Ajmer, Pune, Hyderabad, Lucknow and Mumbai and seven separate explosions on trains on December 6, 1993, the first anniversary of the demolition of the Babri Masjid. Three bombs were planted on Rajdhani Express at Kanpur, Allahabad and Kota railway stations, one of Flying Queen near Valsad, one on Andhra Pradesh Express at Moula Ali railway station, one on Bangalore-Kurla Express near Karjat and one at Secunderabad railway station. After “avenging” the Babri riots, Ansari was tasked with a second series of explosions on January 26, 1994. The Mumbai Police, however, foiled the bid in time, arresting Ansari 13 days before the plan could be executed.