Chief Minister Ashok Chavan on Wednesday announced an award of Rs. 5 lakh for the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad team which cracked the German Bakery blast case by arresting Mirza Himayat Baig (29) from Pune and Sheikh Lalbaba Mohammad Hussain Farid alias Bilal in Nashik.

Declaring the case “solved,” Home Minister R.R. Patil said: “I congratulate the Maharashtra ATS and other national agencies involved in the investigation. The Chief Minister will soon felicitate the ATS team.”

Narrating the sequence of events before the February 13 blast, ATS chief Rakesh Maria told presspersons here that the conspirators Mohsin Chaudhary, Mohammad Ahmed Zarar Siddibappa alias Yasin alias Shah Rukh and Baig brought the explosives to Global Internet Café, run by Baig at Udgir in Latur district, between 1 and 5 a.m. on February 7 and fabricated the bomb there. On February 13, Yasin and Baig, carrying the bomb, travelled to Pune by bus, and planted the bomb in the bakery. However, the CCTV in the bakery did not capture Baig. Mr. Maria said the person in the footage was Yasin as he entered the bakery, while Baig waited outside.

The ATS chief said the accused used a Nokia mobile alarm to set off the bomb, which went off around 7.30 p.m.

Baig was previously involved in two cases — one a 2008 UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act) case of the ATS in Pune and the other under the Arms Act. He had gone to Bhatkal for training. Iqbal and Riyaz Shahbandari — known as the Bhatkal brothers — sheltered him when he was on the run for his involvement in the two cases, Mr. Maria said.

“He is from the original Fayyaz Qazi and Zabiuddin Ansari module, which was involved in a May 2006 arms haul case [in Aurangabad]. He was part of that group,” the ATS chief said.

Originally a resident of Beed district in Maharashtra, Baig settled in Udgir. He failed in the B.A. second year examination. He was close to Fayyaz Qazi and Zabiuddin Ansari.

Reconnaissance

Bilal (27) was arrested at 8.45 p.m. on Tuesday from Ashoknagar, Satpur in Nashik, for doing a recce of vital government installations there. He was a resident of Hotgi in Solapur district. He set up an Indian Mujahideen sleeper cell in Nashik and was trained by the Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan from January 2008 to early 2010.

“In these two years, he did not officially come back to India. But according to our information, he crossed the border thrice — twice via Bangladesh and once via Nepal. He has failed in B.Sc. first year examination,” Mr. Maria said.

The ATS seized from Bilal two kg of RDX, LeT literature, soldering wires, cutters, booklets on bomb-making, SIM cards, fake documents used for getting SIM cards, mobile phones, pen drives and $1,300 and Rs. 10,500 in cash. “He has got the U.S. dollars from Pakistan,” ATS officer Sukhwinder Singh said.

According to the ATS' preliminary information, Bilal was not directly involved in planning or executing the bakery blast. “His prime objective was to recce government buildings. He carried many fake documents. He also possessed a driving licence, a residential certificate and other documents all under fake identities,” Mr. Maria said.

Police custody

Baig was produced before a court in Pune on Wednesday afternoon and was remanded to 14-day police custody till September 20. A Nashik court remanded Bilal to police custody till September 14.

The ATS is on the lookout for Mohsin and Yasin. The probe took ATS teams to Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Daman and Diu, Tamil Nadu and New Delhi.