Agency declares bounties on their heads, ranging from Rs.5 lakh to Rs.10 lakh

Four alleged members of the Indian Mujahideen module wanted by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in connection with the July Bodh Gaya blasts had, after the Patna serial explosions on October 27, taken refuge at Raipur in Chhattisgarh in conspiracy with those allegedly associated with the banned Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI).

Suspecting that they along with the alleged mastermind Tahseen Akhtar might escape to Nepal, the agency on Sunday sought public assistance by declaring bounties on their heads, ranging from Rs.5 lakh to Rs.10 lakh.

The Raipur hideout was unearthed a couple of days ago when the Chhattisgarh police arrested two suspected SIMI sympathisers, identified as Omer Siddiqui (35) and auto-rickshaw driver Abdul Wahid Khan (54). “Omer ran a coaching centre. He was under surveillance for the past few months for suspected links with SIMI. During interrogation, he disclosed that he was in regular touch with the module that triggered both the Bodh Gaya and Patna serial blasts. In fact, some members of the module had earlier stayed in Raipur much before the two terror strikes in Bihar. Omer worked as a recruiter for the outfit and also provided logistical support to its members,” said a senior Chhattisgarh police officer.

Omer purportedly disclosed that due to the pressure mounted by the police after the Patna blasts, the module members initially planned to take shelter in Ranchi. When the Jharkhand police in coordination with the NIA started conducting raids there, four of them moved to Raipur. They have been identified by him as Hyder Ali, Numan Ansari, Taufeeq Ansari and Mojibullah.

“The four reached Raipur about four days after the Patna blasts and stayed at three to four places at Omer’s instance. Omer and his men then arranged a local rented accommodation for the four. However, they managed to escape before we struck. Three more persons were arrested on Sunday on charges of harbouring them,” said the officer.

Omer, who has suspected links with terrorists Abu Faizal, Mehboob, Ejajuddin, Aslam and two others, the alleged SIMI activists who recently escaped from Khandwa jail in Madhya Pradesh, had also organised a meeting of the Indian Mujahideen members in a forest close to Raipur in 2011, the officer added.

Another officer said as Haider Ali and the others might attempt to cross over to Nepal, the NIA has circulated their photographs and declared rewards in a bid to nab them at the earliest.

The central agency, which identified the suspects in the Bodh Gaya blasts from a paper sketch found during a recent raid at Iram lodge in Ranchi, has declared rewards on alleged mastermind Tahseen Akhtar alias Monu, Hyder, Numan, Taufeeq and Mojibullah. “They are also wanted in connection with the Patna blasts,” said an NIA official.

While a reward of Rs.10 lakh has been declared on Tahseen and Hyder, the agency has announced a bounty of Rs.5 lakh each on three others. The NIA has already arrested Imtiaz Ansari in connection with the Patna blasts.

“In Bodh Gaya, according to the paper sheet, Hyder had planted the bomb near the Bodhi tree. The sheet plots the blast locations and also lists the number of bombs at each location and the name of the planter. We suspect that the sheet was prepared by Hyder, who has strong links with SIMI activists like Omer. He joined the Indian Mujahideen after 2009,” the official said.

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