Azamgarh link to Varanasi blast found

Two men from eastern UP town main suspects

Admiration: French tourists take a boat ride on the Ganga in Varanasi on Thursday. AP

The investigators also suspected that the blast might have been triggered by a remote control device, sources said on Thursday. According to the police, two people, identified as Thomas and Mubben, have been picked up from Varanasi and are being quizzed.

UP’s Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) sources here said Shahnawaz Ahmed, a Unani doctor, and Asadullah might be involved in triggering the blast. Both the men were also suspects in the September 13, 2008 Delhi blasts. They have connections with the Indian Mujahidin (IM), which, through an e-mail, has claimed responsibility for the blast that killed a girl and wounded several others.

Shahnawaz, who has worked at a Lucknow-based hospital, is the elder brother of Mohammad Saif, who was arrested after the Batla House encounter in Delhi. He belonged to Sanjarpur village in Azamgarh, from where majority of those killed in the Batla House encounter came from.

Shahnawaz’s name had also cropped up in connection with the blast at the Dashashwamedh Ghat in Varanasi on February 23, 2005. Sources said after the Batla House encounter, Shahnawaz had shifted to Nepal and from there to a Gulf nation.
Shahnawaz’s father Shadab Ahmed, however, claimed that his son was innocent. “Every time some thing like this happens, the police take the names of those, who are absconding...let them (police) hang him if he is guilty,” Shadab told Deccan Herald over phone from Azamgarh.

He also said he had no idea where his son was and if he was alive. The sleuths were keeping an eye on those who met the 2006 Varanasi blast accused Waliullah, a resident of Phulpur in Allahabad, currently lodged in jail after being convicted under the Arms Act.
The investigating agencies were to arrive at any conclusion with regard to the nature of explosives used in the Varanasi blast. Sources, however, said it might have been triggered by a remote control device.

In the previous three blasts in Varanasi, different types of devices were used, sources said. While container bomb was used in the 2005 blast at Dashashwamedh Ghat, cooker bomb was used to trigger blasts at Sankat Mochan temple and cantonment railway station in Varanasi in 2006. In the blasts at Varanasi district court in  November 2007, a tiffin bomb was used, sources said.

Azamgarh has emerged as a hub of terrorism with many of its residents, especially from Sanjarpur and Saraimir areas, being implicated in blasts across the country.

Ahmedabad serial blast mastermind Muft Abul Bashir Islahi also hailed from Azamgarh. According to the ATS sleuths, the district had hundreds of activists of the outlawed Students Islamic  Movement of India. Its president Shahid Badra Falahi is also a resident of Azamgarh.

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