The Bangalore Police said on Saturday that Ubed-ur-Rahman (21), whom they arrested in Hyderabad on Friday, was allegedly plotting to kill three councillors of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation including a prominent Hindutva leader.
Police Commissioner B.G. Jyothiprakash Mirji, however, dismissed media reports that some vital installations were on the radar of the accused. “Some personalities from Hindutva organisations were the only targets as per our investigation so far.”
Mr. Mirji said the Maharashtra police, who arrested four men in Nanded, were acting independently. He however, did not rule out links between those arrested in Nanded and the 12 arrested by the Bangalore police. Asked if the Nanded arrests were carried out on information provided by them, Mr. Mirji said, “We had no such information. The Maharashtra police have to answer.”
With the Hyderabad arrest, the number of people held by the Bangalore police on terror charges has gone up to 12.
Stating that Interpol’s help might be taken if necessary, Mr. Mirji said those arrested were taking orders from people based in Saudi Arabia.
The police, he clarified, had not said that the accused belonged to the Lashkar-e-Taiba or the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami. “The accused claimed that they belonged to both these organisations. We still have to verify their claims.”
On the media reportage of the arrests, Joint Commissioner B. Dayanand said, “A very small group of officers is working on the case. We know they have not been talking to reporters. The officers being quoted anonymously by some media outlets are not directly involved in the investigation.”
Mr. Mirji said: “The credibility of the media is at stake… it is best to avoid speculative stories.”
He said the media would be officially briefed on a daily basis for the next few days to avoid confusion.
Commenting on a report that called journalist Muthi-ur-Rahman Siddiqui the “mastermind” of the plot, Mr. Dayanand said, “We have not yet found such evidence. From what we know, each of those arrested had a specific role.”
A day after the families of those arrested by the Bangalore police addressed a press conference, Mr. Mirji said since they had been remanded in 14-day police custody, they were now free to meet their kin. “Parents and family members of the accused have been saying they are innocent. I can understand that. Nobody can believe that their own children can be involved in something so sinister.”
4 held in Nanded
In Mumbai, the Maharashtra Antiterrorism Squad said it had arrested four suspects from Nanded district for their alleged links with those held in Bangalore. But ATS chief Rakesh Maria refused to divulge further details.
According to police sources, the Bangalore police shared some information with the Maharashtra ATS, which has resulted in the Nanded arrests.
A New Delhi-based intelligence official said not all the 16 suspects held so far were involved in a terrorist plot, but were being held to corroborate information and establish facts.
“We are reasonably certain that two members of the group had been trained by the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate in espionage techniques,” he said. “But it is not clear that the surveillance operations they carried out on strategic facilities were detailed, or that there was any preparation for an actual attack.”
The official said it could take several days of questioning before the full facts on the suspects’ activities became clear. “We know there was lot of talk among them,” he said, “but lots of talk isn’t the same thing as an actual plot.”
(With inputs from New Delhi Bureau)