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Ajmer Arrests May Hold Key To Mecca Masjid Probe

With the arrests of three suspects in Ajmer blast case by the Rajasthan Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), sleuths expect to get clues to another unsolved case of terrorist bombing: the May 18, 2007 blast in Hyderabad's
PTI May 02, 2010 11:09 IST

With the arrests of three suspects in Ajmer blast case by the Rajasthan Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), sleuths expect to get clues to another unsolved case of terrorist bombing: the May 18, 2007 blast in Hyderabad's Mecca Masjid, reports Indian Express.

Chandrashekhar Patidar was arrested  in Chhapri village of Madhya Pradesh's Shajapur district, close to the border with Rajasthan, and produced in an Ajmer court.  On Wednesday night, the ATS had picked up one Devendra Gupta from Ajmer on charges of purchasing the SIM card used in the dargah bombing that took place in October 2007..

This evening, a separate team of the Rajasthan ATS picked up the third man, Vishnu Patidar, from Khardon Kala village, close to Chhapri village in the same Madhya Pradesh district. Both Vishnu and Chandrashekhar had been on the radar of the Rajasthan ATS since around October last year after they were found in possession of mobile phone handsets allegedly used by some of the accused in the Ajmer blast.

Chandrashekhar belongs to a family of RSS workers. He knew Vishnu well. Devendra Gupta, the first man to be arrested this week, is suspected to have links with the radical Hindu Abhinav Bharat group, with which the alleged plotters of the 2006 Malegaon blasts, Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and Lt Col Prasad Purohit were associated.

Both Gupta and Chandrashekhar are in the custody of the Rajasthan ATS until May 12.

A common thread links the attacks that killed 16 people at the Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad and three at Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti's dargah in Ajmer: SIM cards used in the mobile phones placed as timers in unexploded bombs at both sites were obtained using a common fake identity proof. Investigations into the two cases have already revealed this fake identity as that of a man called Babulal Yadav of Ranchi.

In October 2007, the former police commissioner of Hyderabad, Balwinder Singh, went on record saying that “the SIM cards used in the May 18 Mecca Masjid blast in Hyderabad and the Ajmer blasts were bought with a common Ranchi ID proof”.

Hyderabad police commissioner A K Khan said  his office was yet to receive any information regarding the arrests made by the Rajasthan ATS. “The Mecca Masjid case is now with the CBI and the information will be passed there,” he said.

The emerging Abhinav Bharat connection to the Ajmer arrests appears to link the terrorist attacks in Malegaon (September 8, 2006), Ajmer and Mecca Masjid together. The striking similarities in the bombs used in the three places have already been widely commented upon by forensic and explosives experts who have examined the devices or their remains at the blast sites.

“There is no doubt that the bomb blast at Mecca Masjid and Ajmer were very similar in terms of technology and mechanism,” a forensics expert in Hyderabad associated with the Mecca Masjid case told The Sunday Express. Both bombs were constructed in cylindrical metal pipes and used mobile phone timers as triggering devices, the expert said.

Initial CBI investigations into the Mecca Masjid blast had thrown up the photograph of a yoga instructor from Noida, Tarak Nath Pramanik. This man's picture had been used under different names for the purchase of SIM cards, the CBI had said.The yoga instructor's picture was also used to obtain driving licences and an election identity card. Pramanik had protested his innocence in the matter.

A mobile phone-triggered pipe bomb, similar in some ways to the bombs in Ajmer and Mecca Masjid, was used in a blast in a court in Hubli, Karnataka, on May 10, 2008, by a gang lead by a former member of the right wing outfit Sri Rama Sene. The blast was allegedly directed against SIMI activists being tried in the court.

The main accused in the case, Nagaraj Jambagi, was killed in prison a few months after his arrest by the co-accused in the case, allegedly in a dispute over procuring bail for their release.