Police see SIMI, LeT hand in Malegaon
Raheel, a top Lashkar-e-Taiba commander, had stayed in Malegaon for a few weeks, reports Abhishek Sharan. See picsindia Updated: Sep 16, 2006 12:12 IST
Raheel Abdul Sheikh — the alleged mastermind behind the July 11 Mumbai blasts — could have been helped by banned Students Islamic Movement of India activists Abdul Latif Khan and Junaid Hussein to execute Friday's multiple blasts in Malegaon, say police.
Senior Mumbai and Nashik police officers say Khan and Hussein have been absconding since the latter half of May. They suspect Raheel had "instructed" them on the Malegaon blasts.
A senior police officer said Raheel, a top Lashkar-e-Taiba commander, had stayed in Malegaon for a few weeks before fleeing to Bangladesh in May.
Nashik's inspector general of police PK Jain said they were "looking into Raheel's involvement in the blasts. I have asked a team of officers to find out about Raheel's movements in the city in recent months."
Malegaon is also the place where the Lashkar's western India commander Faisal Sheikh Maharashtra, arrested by the Anti Terrorist Squad arrested in the Mumbai blast case, had spent his childhood. "He studied till his 11th standard in Malegaon, before moving to Pune to do a course in industrial electronics", an officer said.
Police see Malegaon as an important base of the SIMI and a recruiting ground for the LeT.
Officers say the Malegaon blasts fall into a pattern of engineering a "communal divide and disturbances".
They say the first part of the plan was the Mumbai 7/11 blasts, followed by the attack on the RSS headquarters in Nagpur and then Malegaon.
"They know Malegaon is a communal tinderbox. If the Muslims react with violence, the city will spin out of control. They know it has cost lives of a particular community but think it will help them attain the larger cause," says a senior officer.
Investigators are also looking at why the Hamidiya mosque in the Bada Kabragah compound and the Mushawarat chowk were chosen, instead of the Jama Masjid that stands by the Mosam river and splits the city into Muslim and non-Muslim halves. The Masjid was the trigger during the 2001 riots.
Malegaon Superintendent of Police Rajvardhan says they have interrogated 50 men in the case so far.