A possible major terrorist strike during the upcoming general elections was thwarted with the arrest of four suspected Indian Mujahideen terrorists in Rajasthan on Saturday and Sunday.
The arrests include a Pakistani national Zia Ur Rehman alias Waqas, who is wanted in a series of bombings in different parts of India, including the ones in Mumbai's Opera House and Zaveri Bazar in 2011 and the 2012 serial blasts in Pune.
Waqas is said to be a close aide of IM’s jailed co-founder Yasin Bhatkal and an expert bombmaker of IM. The police said they have recovered a huge quantity of explosives and detonators from the accused in Jodhpur and Jaipur.
Two youths were also picked up for questioning from Jamia Nagar on Sunday. They are suspected of being in touch with the arrested men. Their detention led to protests by locals in the area till late on Sunday, leading to traffic congestion between Noida and Faridabad.
The protesters termed the detention “illegal” and expressed apprehensions that the youths could be falsely charged for terror activities.
According to S N Shrivastava, Special Commissioner of Police of the Special Cell, preliminary investigations and the recovery of explosives indicate the suspects were planning to target important events like election rallies. He, however, dismissed speculations that BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi was on their radar, saying that investigations so far do not suggest so. Shrivastava said the interrogation of Bhatkal and Asadullah Akhtar gave clues about Waqas, 25.
“Over the past few months, a vigorous exercise was carried out by deploying a large number of sources in Karnataka, Orissa, West Bengal, Bihar, Maharashtra and Rajasthan,” said Shrivastava.
Efforts bore fruit as police learnt on Friday that Waqas would be arriving at the Ajmer railway station from Mumbai. A trap was laid and he was arrested on Saturday. “Waqas disclosed that the purpose of his visit to Ajmer was to coordinate and oversee the preparations being carried out by the three terrorists of the Rajasthan module for carrying out a spectacular terror strike,” said Shrivastava.