New Delhi: Indian security officials announced a breakthrough on Wednesday in several unsolved terrorism cases with the arrest of six people who they said were members of the Indian Mujahideen. The announcement came as a bomb went off in Imphal before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s scheduled visit on 3 December.
The people arrested were said to be involved in last year’s German Bakery bomb attack in Pune, the twin blasts at Bangalore’s Chinnaswamy stadium, and firing and an explosion outside Delhi’s Jama Masjid.
Home minister P. Chidambaram, who completed three years in office on Wednesday, said three people, including one who may have carried the improvised explosive device (IED), were injured in the Imphal blast.
Home minister P. Chidambaram. Photo: PTI
“We had anticipated trouble, and Manipur has been on the alert. The IED went off before the person could plant it,” Chidambaram said at his ministry’s monthly press conference.
The home minister renewed his offer of talks to Maoists and insurgents in the North-East.
“I have made this statement several times before and I make it again today as I complete three years,” he said. “Even Maoists should suspend violence. We are not asking for more at this stage. Just say there will be no violence and my offer stands.”
If such a pledge is made, the government will consult the chief ministers of the states concerned and fix the dates and venue for starting talks, he said. Chidambaram also denied allegations that Maoist leader Koteswar Rao, also known as Kishenji, was shot in a fake encounter.
On Prime Minister Manmohan Singh describing his Pakistani counterpart as a “man of peace”, Chidambaram said: “The Pakistani Prime Minister (Yousaf Raza Gilani) may be a man of peace and if he has been described as such, that is a description given by the Prime Minister. That has nothing to do with the fact that they (Pakistan) have not given us voice samples; they have not arrested the true perpetrators behind (the) 26/11” Mumbai terrorist attack.
Earlier in the day, Delhi Police said it arrested alleged terrorists Mohd Qateel Siddiqi and Gauhar Aziz Khumani in the Capital, Gayur Ahmad Jamali and Pakistani national Mohd Adhil from Madhubani in Bihar, and Mohd Irshad Khan and Abdur Rahman from Chennai over the last week.
Besides Adhil, who came to India in August 2010 on the instructions of the founders of homegrown terrorist outfit Indian Mujahideen, Riaz and Iqbal Bhatkal, all the other suspects are residents of Bihar. A large amount of arms, including two AK-47 rifles, and explosives were allegedly recovered from them. The Bhatkal brothers are believed to be in Pakistan.
“They are members of the Indian Mujahideen terrorist module led by Ahmad Siddi Bappa of Karnataka,” the police said in a statement. Bappa is yet to be arrested. The police said it became acquainted with Bappa starting in 2007 and that Rahman was the last one to become a member four months ago.
No further details were made available about the specific roles of the suspects in the 13 February Pune blast that killed 17 people, the 17 April Bangalore twin blast, and the 19 September Jama Masjid shoot-out and blast. The home minister said further details couldn’t be provided as the investigation was still in progress.