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No headway achieved in Hyderabad blast case

The probe, conducted by the Hyderabad cops, leaves many questions unanswered in the minds of the locals.

india Updated: Jun 18, 2007 15:56 IST

A month after the bomb blast at the historic Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad, killed nine people, the investigating agencies are still groping in the dark about the identity of the outfit behind the terror attack.

The Special Investigation Unit (SIU) of Hyderabad police, which handed over the investigations to Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) last week, could not achieve any breakthrough despite the initial claims of finding vital clues.

The manner in which the probe has been conducted so far has raised several questions in the minds of the local community in Hyderabad. A suspect arrested from Maharashtra was found not involved in the blast while the interrogation of another accused has also not helped in the investigations.

The recent allegations that police illegally sent a youth, Abdul Sattar, to Bangladesh as a decoy to trace Mohammed Shahed, alias Bilal, a suspected operative of Lashkar-e-Toiba, but arrested the former on his return has also drawn flak.

Nine people were killed in the May 18 blast during Friday prayers at the 17th century mosque, located at a stone's throw from the historic Charminar. Hours after the blast, five people were killed when police opened fire on a violent mob near the mosque.

The police action had evoked strong reaction from the Muslim community, which alleged that the firing was unprovoked and police did not use alternate methods to bring the crowd under control.

Following strong demands from various Muslim organisations, the state government on May 24 had announced a CBI probe into the blast and judicial inquiry into the police firing.

A magisterial inquiry into the firing is being conducted while the state human rights commission is also probing the police action.

Human rights activists have demanded the arrest of those police officials who sent 27-year-old Sattar illegally to Bangladesh to trace Shahed, a native of Hyderabad who was blamed for the blast by the police hours after the attack.

Police claimed on June 16 that Sattar was an agent of Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) after he was arrested the day before. The claim came a day after a section of media reported that the youth, a resident of Ahmednagar in the city, was arrested in West Bengal by Border Security Force (BSF) while trying to cross over into India from Bangaldesh.

Sattar allegedly stayed in Bangladesh for 10 days but could not obtain any information about Shahed, who is being blamed by police for the blast at Mecca Masjid and other terror activities in Andhra Pradesh and other states in recent years.

On learning about Sattar's arrest in West Bengal, a police team from the city went there and brought him back. However, a case was registered against him for his alleged involvement in ISI activities. Police claimed that he confessed to have illegally crossed Bangladesh border twice, and received arms training in Pakistan in 2004 under the leadership of Shahed alias Bilal.

Police also claimed that during his stay for the second time in Bangladesh, he learnt to prepare bombs with latest technology.

Mohammed Lateef Khan, secretary, Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee, however, alleged that police booked a false case against him to save itself from embarrassment after the expose.

Earlier, Shoaib Jagirdar, a meat shop owner, was arrested in Jalna, Maharashtra. He was suspected to have supplied RDX for the blast and brought here on May 25. However, no evidence was found linking him to the blast. He was booked under the Passport Act for attempting to obtain fake passport for one Sameer alias Nayeem, a resident of Maharashtra and alleged operative of LeT.

Sameer, who was arrested in April with three other LeT operatives after crossing over from Bangladesh, was brought here early this month. However, his interrogation has so far not provided any breakthrough.

Muslim groups are unhappy over the way the probe has been conducted so far. "The police are keen to take the investigations into a particular direction," said Hyderabad MP and Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) leader Asaduddin Owaisi. He wants that the probe to be conducted with an open mind treating Hindu extremist groups as suspects.

Muslim groups also alleged that police were trying to create sectarian differences within the community. With CBI taking over the probe from the city police, the Muslim groups now hope that an "impartial probe" would solve the mystery behind the blast.

First Published: Jun 18, 2007 15:21 IST