Delhi: Bike used to plant IED at Ghazipur market found at Old Seemapuri flat
Officers said the discovery has underlined a direct link between the two IEDs and the police are now looking into whether local support was provided to a “Pakistan-influenced terror outfit” that reportedly planned terror strikes across Delhi
A motorcycle, suspected to have been ridden by the persons who allegedly planted the improvised explosive device (IED) at the Ghazipur Flower Market on January 14, was also found parked near the four-storey building in Old Seemapuri from where a similar IED was recovered and destroyed on Thursday, special cell officers associated with the two investigations said.
Officers said the discovery has underlined a direct link between the two IEDs and the police are now looking into whether local support was provided to a “Pakistan-influenced terror outfit” that reportedly planned terror strikes across Delhi.
On Friday, Delhi Police commissioner Rakesh Asthana said the recovered IEDs were prepared with the intention of carrying out blasts in public places and such planning and execution were not possible without local support. “We are trying to pre-empt any such incident in Delhi and expose all local and foreign networks,” Asthana said, adding that the IEDs recovered from Ghazipur and Old Seemapuri also appeared similar.
A senior police officer said soon after the IED was recovered from a locked room on the second floor of the Old Seemapuri building -- it was left in a bag similar to the one found with an explosive device in Ghazipur -- a search was carried out in the neighbourhood by the Shahdara police and it was they who came across an unclaimed motorbike parked in a lane near the building.
“The same motorcycle was captured by CCTV cameras at the Ghazipur flower market. Two suspects were seen riding the bike and carrying the IED bag, which they placed near gate number 1 of the flower market. The Shahdara police alerted the special cell officers who are investigating the IED case and handed over the motorcycle to them for further probe,” said the senior officer, asking not to be named.
Although the timely recovery of the IEDs averted at least two major blasts in the national capital, security agencies suspect that more similar IEDs may have been kept in and around the city. Police said if that was the case, these devices can only be recovered once the suspects who arranged the explosive materials and prepared the bombs are caught.
The presence of RDX in large quantities (nearly 3 kilos) in each of the recovered IEDs has made the agencies suspect that the explosive substance was smuggled into India from Pakistan either via the Punjab border or through Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK).
Nearly five kilos of RDX and some Indian currency were found concealed in an unclaimed bag on the Attari-Bachiwind road in Punjab’s Amritsar, near the India-Pakistan border, on January 14, just a few hours after the IED was found in an unclaimed bag at gate number 1 of Delhi’s largest flower market.
The Ghazipur IED was destroyed by the bomb disposal squad of the National Security Guard (NSG) in a controlled explosion, just an hour and eight minutes before it was set to detonate. Intelligence reports indicated that the Pakistan establishment had been using land and sea drug pipelines to push ready-made IEDs into India.
On Friday, teams of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Uttar Pradesh anti-terrorist squad (UP-ATS) also visited the Old Seemapuri building as part of their parallel investigations.
The owner of the building, Hashim Ahmad, and a local property dealer named Shamim Ahmed were taken into custody by the special cell team to question them about the two tenants who lived in the second floor room and two or three others who frequently visited them, said police sources.
The preliminary questioning of Hashim and Shamim revealed that the second floor was rented out to two men but their police verification was not done. The two tenants identified themselves as students belonging to poor families from Uttar Pradesh. The two allegedly told Hashim and Shamim that they had come to Delhi to study and they would also work part time to earn the money needed to live and study in Delhi.
Uneasy quiet in Old Seemapuri
An uneasy silence prevailed in Old Seemapuri in the wake of the discovery of the IED on Thursday. Nearly 20 shops on both sides of the Block D lane -- where the crime scene building is located -- remained shut for the second consecutive day on Friday.
Around 400 people were evacuated from nearby buildings after the “suspicious” bag was found on Thursday. Iron barricades and drums were placed at both entrances of the lane to stop the public from reaching the crime scene. A police vehicle and several personnel have been deployed to keep an eye on the neighbourhood even as residents gathered in groups near the lane, discussing the discovery and asking each other about the tenants who lived there.
The neighbourhood has a mixed population of Hindus and Muslims, police said, and the houses adjacent to the building belong to Hindu families. The lane is adjacent to the UP border and the building owner (Hashim) lives with his family just 100 metres away, but across the Delhi border. Shamim’s house is in a lane ahead of the building.
“My husband rented out the second floor to two men, who identified themselves as natives of UP, in December on a monthly rent of ₹3,000 through Shamim. All I know is that the two were students and they were often seen studying in their room. My husband is in police custody along with Shamim. I have been told that the police verification of the tenants was not done. I am sure the identity documents of the tenants are with Shamim. My husband is innocent and has no connection with the recovered bomb or the tenants,” said Hashim’s wife Sadma.
Shamim’s family also claimed that he was innocent; his only mistake may have been not verifying the identities of the tenants before renting out the room. “My husband has been into realty business for over 10 years. Earlier, tenants were kept without verification. But for the past few years, my husband got police verification of tenants done regularly. I don’t know why he did not verify those two tenants,” said his wife Arshi.
Hashim and Shamim were not released till Friday evening, as investigators believed that their questioning may help them find more clues about the tenants, who locked the room and went missing around a week ago, a second police officer said, asking not to be named.
Investigators have also retrieved the footage from all the CCTV cameras installed in and around the building where the suspicious bag was found. The footage is being analysed, officers said.