Terror outfit Indian Mujahideen was planning to strike at three tourist destinations in the country during the Lok Sabha polls and had deputed its now arrested Indian operations head Tehsin Akhtar to recce these locations, a senior police officer said Wednesday.
The revelations came during questioning of Tehsin Akhtar alias Monu who was arrested from Rajasthan Friday by Delhi Police.
Special Commissioner of Police (Special Cell) S.N. Srivastava told IANS that two cities of Rajasthan - Jodhpur and Bharatpur - and Agra in Uttar Pradesh were on the IM's radar and Tehsin Akhtar had done a recce of these cities.
"Agra, a famous tourist location, was one of the places where the IM men were planning to attack to create terror," he said. Akhtar did not name Taj Mahal as one of his possible targets but investigators are trying to find out more information.
Akhtar told Delhi Police during interrogation that he along with his associate operatives was planning to target the tourist places to avenge the 2009 Gopalgarh mosque firing in Rajasthan in which 10 people from the Meo Muslim community were killed, Srivastava said.
He was in Jodhpur when Indian Mujahideen co-founder Yasin Bhatkal and his associate Asadullah Akhtar alias Haddi were arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in August 2013.
Akhtar soon left the city and went to Kathmandu. Later he moved to Kerala where he came in touch with Waqas - a Pakistani national and an expert bomber who too was arrested by Delhi Police from Rajasthan Friday.
He stayed with Waqas till mid-January 2014 at Munnar in Kerala and in between came to Agra for recce.
He had directed Waqas to reach Ajmer and coordinate with the IM's "Rajasthan module" to commit a terror strike, the police official said.
Apart from being the acting chief of IM, the 23-year-old Akhtar became the single-most important link between his group and some independent splinter groups which evolved from the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI).
After the July 13, 2011, serial bombings in Mumbai's Zaveri Bazaar, Opera House and Dadar West, Akhtar went to Bihar in November 2013 and met SIMI member Haider at Darbhanga.
"He met him twice, first in Darbhanga and then in Patna. He later went along with Haider and stayed with him at a rented accommodation in Ranchi," the official said.
Srivastava, however, added that Akhtar has so far denied his involvement with SIMI. "He said SIMI members have been operating separately. He also denied his involvement in the Oct 27, 2013, serial blasts in Patna during Narendra Modi's rally carried out by SIMI," he said.
"Akhtar was the man who was provided Rs.1.3 lakh 'Hawala' money in Mumbai. He then came to Delhi's Shahin Bagh residence of Yasin Bhatkal and gave Rs.1 lakh and a mobile phone to his wife Zahida in August at the behest of IM's Pakistan-based founder member Riyaz Bhatkal," the official said.
The official further revealed that it was that phone whose call details helped investigators locate Yasin Bhatkal's hideout in Nepal and a couple of days later, he was arrested by the NIA.
The handset was purchased by Mahruf, the engineering student from Jaipur, and the SIM card was procured by Shaquib, a computer expert. Both the IM members were arrested by Delhi Police Saturday from Jodhpur.