Mumbai, Jan 27: A wanted accused in the 13/7 Mumbai blasts, who had planted one of the bombs that went off that fateful evening, had enrolled himself at a gymnasium owned by the family of underworld don-turned-politician Arun Gawli, the Anti-terrorism Squad said today.
While announcing a breakthrough in the blast probe on Monday with the arrest of Naqi Ahmed and Nadeem Akhtar from Bihar, the ATS had withheld the names of the two planters of the bombs whom its chief Rakesh Maria referred to only as wanted accused ‘A' and ‘B'.
Maria told reporters that nearly a month after the blasts, one of the bomb planters, who had enrolled himself at a gym at Kumbharwada in south Mumbai, also became member of another gym named after Gawli's late father.
Gawli, facing several cases of extortion and a murder, and a former rival of fugitive mafia don Dawood Ibrahim, is currently lodged in Taloja jail in Navi Mumbai.
“One of the planters in the 13/7 blasts case had enrolled himself on August 10 last year for three months in Gulabpuran Gawli Medical and Fitness Centre belonging to Gawli family at Byculla. The bomb planter is the same person, who had joined a gym at Kumbharwada of south Mumbai,” Maria said.
The wanted bomb planter had paid Rs 3,500 as fee for three months including Rs 200 entrance fee, at the gym located at Dagadi Chawl, Gawli's den, he said.
“The accused used to often visit the gym. The statements of gym instructors, manager and others have been recorded,” Maria said.
The accused had submitted the required documents to get admission in the gym, the ATS chief said but did not elaborate the details of the documents.
“In Kumbharwada gym, arrested accused Naqi Ahmed had helped him to get admission. We are checking as to who helped him get admission to this Dagdi Chawl gym,” he said, adding the accused's age mentioned in the gym register was little over 24 years. “We have confiscated the gym register.”
A top operative of home-grown terror outfit Indian Mujahideen Yasin Bhatkal and two others planters, who are yet to be identified, had rented a third floor flat in Byculla's Habib building where they assembled the explosives before triggering the blasts at Dadar, Zaveri Bazaar and Opera House on July 13 last year which claimed 27 lives.
The ATS had hinted at the underworld's role in the case but clarified that it did not suspect involvement of Mumbai's gangsters.
Asked if the bomb planter had come close to the underworld by joining Gawli's gym, Maria refused to comment. Meanwhile, Naqi's elder brother Taquee, who stays in Delhi, has been summoned by the Maharashtra ATS to record his statement.
The ATS expected Taquee's presence at its headquarter in Mumbai but he could not come citing health problems and delay in getting train ticket, said an officer. The ATS is likely to arrest Haroon Rashid Naik, currently in jail in a fake currency case, in connection with the triple blasts next week.
“The legal procedure is on. By early next week, we should get his custody in the blasts case,” Maria added.