Mohammad Quateel accused of plotting to plant bomb at Pune's Dagdusheth temple

A Pune court granted eight days' police custody to alleged Indian Mujahideen (IM) operative Mohammad Quateel alias Mohammad Jafir Siddiqui on Thursday. Siddiqui has been accused of plotting to plant a bomb in the popular Dagdusheth Halwai Ganapati Temple in Pune.

Siddiqui, who was arrested by the Delhi Police in November last year, was brought to Pune on Thursday after the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) got the required permission.

‘Threat to national security'

Assistant Public Prosecutor A.V. Ausekar told First Class Judicial Magistrate S.S. Bose that Siddiqui was a “threat to national security.” According to the ATS, he had planned to plant a bomb in the Dagdusheth temple on February 13, 2010. But the plan had failed as a flower vendor outside the temple had refused to keep a bag that allegedly carried the bomb.

“The accused is a threat to India's sovereignty and unity. The conspiracy to attack a religious place was meant to instil fear and create a rift between two religions,” Mr. Ausekar stated.

The ATS requested his custody to investigate where the bomb was made, who his accomplices were and who had sponsored the entire plan.

Investigation Officer Samad Shaikh said the case was complex and that the accused was a close associate of Yasin Bhatkal, who is a co-accused in the case, and is absconding. The ATS claimed that Yasin Bhatkal alias Yasin Siddibappa alias Imran is the mastermind behind the banned IM and SIMI outfits.

Advocate A. Rehman, who will be representing Siddiqui, argued that the Special cell of the Delhi Police had already interrogated the accused. The ATS had also interrogated Siddiqui while in Delhi, and hence there was no need for police custody. Mr. Rehman said the IM had been banned and there was no evidence that Siddiqui belonged to the outfit. “There is not even an iota of evidence that he is from the IM,” he said.

Hailing from Darbhanga in Bihar, he has been arrested for criminal conspiracy, promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, forging documents, and making explosives under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code.