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Bengaluru blast accused relocated multiple times, used fake IDs

By, Kolkata
Apr 14, 2024 04:51 AM IST

The duo chose guest houses and low-budget hotels that had non-air conditioned rooms with costs that were largely less than ₹1000 a night, investigators said.

Abdul Matheen Ahmed Taahaa and Mussavir Hussain Shazib, the two men arrested by the NIA on Friday for an explosion at Rameshwaram Cafe in Bengaluru on March 1, spent exactly a month in West Bengal, frequently changing their locations, and lived in multiple low-cost hotels and lodges under false identities, investigators retracing their footsteps said. The two men, both 30 years old, one of whom planted the bomb and the other considered the mastermind behind the attack that left 9 people injured, were arrested from Hotel Ayush International in New Digha, a tourist town 180 kilometres south of Kolkata at 2 am in the early hours of April 12.

A CCTV visual showing the two prime suspects of the Rameswaram Cafe blast case staying in the Dream Guest House, in Kolkata (ANI)
A CCTV visual showing the two prime suspects of the Rameswaram Cafe blast case staying in the Dream Guest House, in Kolkata (ANI)

Also Read: Karnataka minister reveals how police inputs helped NIA arrest Rameshwaram Cafe blast accused

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Police investigations show that the two reached Kolkata from Chennai on March 12, and stayed in a hotel called Esplanade Inn on SN Banerjee road in central Kolkata. The police have learnt from hotel staff that while the duo had first said they would stay for three days, they checked out the very next day. Then, in the afternoon of March 13, around 5.40pm, they checked in at Hotel Paradise, less than a five minute walk from the first hotel. “Here they lived in room number 8 of the hotel where a room costs around 700 a night. They checked out on March 14 around noon,” one police officer said.

This was a pattern they would follow for most of their month, the officer quoted above said. They chose guest houses and low-budget hotels that had non-air conditioned rooms with costs that were largely less than 1000 a night. “Sometimes they said they were colleagues and had come for official work. At others that they were business partners and tourists,” the officer said.

Preliminary investigations suggest that between March 14 and 21, Shazib and Taahaa then went to Darjeeling in northern Bengal and then Purulia in the western part of the state, before returning to Kolkata on March 21, where they checked in at the Garden Guest House in Kidderpore. “Each time when they checked in, they wore caps and masks to avoid detection on hotel CCTV’s,” the officer said.

Also Read: Bengaluru blast accused on state police radar since 2020

They stayed at the Kidderpore guest house till March 23. It is unclear where they stayed on March 24. But on March 25, they went to the Dream Guest House in Ekbalpore, 500 metres away from the Kidderpore guest house. Here, they spent three nights before checking out on March 28.

The trail, officers said, then went cold for the next 12 days, but it is likely they took a bus from Howrah to Digha. Evidence of the two then resurfaced at Hotel Ayush International in New Digha, a popular beach-side town in East Midnapore. They occupied room number 4 on the fourth floor, and were nabbed on Friday morning.

Police officers said that the two men used fake identity cards such as Aadhaar cards and driving licenses. When he checked in at Esplanade Inn for instance, Shazib used documentation which claimed her was Yusha Shahnawaz, a resident of Maharashtra. At the same hotel, Taahaa introduced himself as Vignesha BD. But at Hotel Paradise, Taahaa checked in as Anmol Kulkarni. “The register of Hotel Paradise reveals that Taahaa first wrote the name Vignesha. He then scribbled over it using a pen and then wrote the name of Anmol Kulkarni, a resident of Karnataka,” said an officer. At the hotel in Kidderpore, they changed identity documents again, registering themselves as Uday Das and Sanjay Aggarwal.

Also Read: Mamata attacks BJP for ‘propaganda’ over arrest of Bengaluru Cafe blast suspects

Police officials also said that they have recorded the statements of a mobile repairing shop at Chandni Chowk in central Kolkata, after they found Shazib had arrived at the shop during their stay with three mobile phones.“The shop owner couldn’t recall whether the mobiles had SIM cards,” said an officer.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Joydeep Thakur is a Special Correspondent based in Kolkata. He focuses on science, environment, wildlife, agriculture and other related issues.

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