Three members of the banned Indian Mujahideen (IM) conducted a "test blast" on the city outskirts two days before carrying out the deadly February 21 Dilsukhnagar twin blasts here, according to a disclosure statement of one of the accused.
Asadullah Akhtar, an alleged close associate of IM's co-founder Yasin Bhatkal, and two others planted the bombs on the instructions of Pakistan-based Riyaz Bhatkal, according to the disclosure statement of Akhtar that was recently submitted to a local court by the NIA, which is investigating the twin blasts case.
Akhtar is being interrogated by the NIA after the court sent him to its custody for 15 days on September 19.
Seventeen people were killed and over 100 others injured in blasts triggered by powerful IEDs planted near Konark and Venkatadiri theatres in Dilsukhnagar, a crowded shopping area in the city, on February 21 this year.
After an initial probe by the Andhra Pradesh police, the NIA had taken over the case.
"As per the directions of Riyaz Bhatkal, myself and Waqas moved from Belgaum to Mangalore in September 2012. During our stay in Mangalore, I used to communicate with Riyaz through online chat. He informed me that in a few days, explosive material will be delivered to me in Mangalore and I have to carry out blasts in Hyderabad along with Waqas and Tahseen alias Monu," Akhtar said in the disclosure statement.
Giving details on his and the alleged role of other accused in the blasts, Akhtar allegedly told the NIA interrogators that as a part of the preparation, Riyaz had sent money through a money transfer firm and the hawala route in Mangalore.
"In the first week of February, 2013, I received the explosive material in Mangalore from an unknown person in a golden colour trolley bag sent by Riyaz," Akhtar said. Subsequently, Akhtar came to Hyderabad and contacted Tahseen, who in turn took him to the shelter situated at Abdullapurmet.
"I found the shelter suitable and left for Mangalore. Later, the explosive material was taken to Hyderabad by myself and Waqas, which was then kept in the shelter, rented by Tahseen," he said.
As per instructions of Riyaz, a 'recce' was conducted in the areas of Malakpet, Abids and Dilsukhnagar. It was decided to plant bombs at Dilsukhnagar, Akhtar said in the statement, adding that "two to three days before the blast day, we also conducted a test blast to check the explosive at a deserted place in Abdullapurmet".
Akhtar said that he along with Waqas and Tahseen purchased an old cycle in Malakpet on February 20 and parked it at a cycle stand near Malakpet railway station.
"Subsequently, on the same day, myself and Tahseen purchased two pressure cookers to place the IEDs in them to increase the pressure," he said, in the disclosure statement.
On February 21, Akhtar along with Tahseen purchased another cycle, leaving Waqas at the shelter, to prepare the IEDs, while this cycle was also parked at the cycle stand at Malakpet railway station.
"In the evening, after preparation of the IEDs, we vacated the rented house after Tahseen informed the house caretaker that his mother is serious and he is leaving for Mumbai. We took an autorickshaw and along with the IEDs and our temporary baggage, we went to the cycle stand, from we collected the cycles," Akhtar said.
"After collecting the cycles, the bombs which were assembled in two pressure cookers which were placed in white colour fruit cartons, were kept on the two cycles, after duly checking the mechanism.
The job of parking the cycles carrying the IEDs on its carrier at the blast spot of Dilsukhnagar bus stop (Venkatadiri theatre) was carried out by Waqas and at the Mirchi Centre (Konark theatre) was done by Tahseen," Akhtar is claimed to have told his interrogators. "After the explosion, myself and Waqas returned to Mangalore. The next day I left Mangalore to proceed to Nepal, while Waqas stayed in Mangalore," Akhtar said.
In another document submitted to the court seeking Akhtar's remand, the NIA had submitted that all the accused were involved in several such bomb blasts across the country and investigation of all those cases are pending in different parts of the country.
The NIA has named Riyaz as 'A-1' in connection with the Dilsukhnagar twin blasts cases, followed by Akhtar (A-2), Waqas (A-3), Tahseen (A-4) while Yasin Bhatkal, who too was arrested by the NIA in connection with the case, is 'A-5'.
Bhatkal, who has been named as co-conspirator in the terror plan is currently being interrogated by the NIA in its custody.
Bhatkal and Asadullah, suspected of carrying out several blasts across the country, were arrested by security agencies on the Indo-Nepal border in August this year.
The NIA submitted that before carrying out the bomb blast, the accused had taken shelter in different hideouts in Hyderabad and Mangalore for manufacturing bombs and reconnoitring the places.
After committing the offence, the accused had absconded and taken shelter in Nepal, while planning to go to Pakistan, the NIA said in the documents.