In what appears to be a breakthrough in the October 2007 bomb blast at the shrine of Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti in Ajmer in which three persons were killed, the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of Rajasthan on Wednesday night arrested one Devendra Gupta. A resident of Muzafarpur in Bihar, Gupta was on a visit to his parents' house at Bihariganj in Ajmer town to meet his ailing mother when the ATS, narrowing on him for some time, nabbed him.
The 36-year-old Gupta, who is suspected to have links with a Hindutva terror outfit, was produced on Friday before the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Ajmer who remanded him to 12 days' police custody. “We are hopeful of cracking the Ajmer Dargah blast case,” said ATS Chief Kapil Garg
Though the officers of the ATS, which took over the blast case in May last year from the Special Operations Group (SOG), remained non-committal on Gupta's affiliations, Rajasthan Home Minister Shanti Kumar Dhariwal said the suspect is a worker (pracharak) of the RSS in Muzafarpur.
“Devendra Gupta is an active member of the RSS. What he did was part of a larger game plan. Behind him is an organization which tries to incite violence between Hindus and Muslims,” Mr. Dhariwal said talking briefly to media persons here. “We are investigating the links of the organization with the RSS,” he asserted.
“At the moment I cannot reveal much about his links as it would affect investigation. We have arrested him on the basis of sound evidence. We are questioning him further,” said Mr. Garg who is Additional Director-General of Rajasthan Police. ATS, which started suspecting Gupta's role in the blast some time back had been shadowing him, Mr. Garg disclosed. Asked about the involvement of the Hindu terror outfits in the Dargah blast, Mr. Garg said for the time being he was neither denying nor accepting it.
Any link with the Abinav Bharat Sangathan, which was allegedly behind the Malegaon blast of September 29, 2008, was thus not confirmed by Mr. Garg. He, however, said the investigations were not confined to Rajasthan alone.
“The investigations have taken time but you should also appreciate the fact that we did not give it up even after three years,” Mr. Garg observed. The Rajasthan ATS did not act on the links from any other State but would be sending a team to Jharkhand and other States for further investigation, he revealed.
The bomb blast took place at Ahat-e-Noor of the Dargah on October 11, 2007, just before Magrib prayers when the devotees were breaking Ramzan fast. It was only three days for Id-ul-Fitr. As usual, the suspects turned out to be Muslim terror groups. The prime suspect then was the Bangladeshi outfit Harket-ul-Jihad-e-Islami (HuJI). There were two bombs in all and only one of them went off killing two persons on the spot and one later in the hospital. In all 15 persons were injured. The sleuths seemingly got some clue on the links from the SIM fitted on the bomb which did not work
Though no one was arrested then, about a dozen Muslims -- Imams, Maulanas and madrasa teachers -- were detained and intensively questioned. All of them were later released.