The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad has cracked the Pune German Bakery blast case, with the arrest of Mirza Himayat Baig (29), chief of the Lashkar-e-Taiba unit in the State. He and another person, Sheikh Lalbaba Mohammad Hussain Farid alias Bilal, (27), were remanded to police custody on Wednesday.
At a press conference here, ATS chief Rakesh Maria said Baig was involved in every stage of the incident, from conspiracy to planting the bomb in the bakery, where the blast on February 13 this year ripped through the landmark at Koregaon Park, frequented by foreign nationals. It claimed 17 lives and left 56 people injured. Baig was arrested at 3.15 p.m. on Tuesday from the Mahatma Gandhi bus stand near the Camp area in Pune.
Bilal, arrested by the ATS in connection with a case under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act in Nashik, was found to have links with the bakery case also, Mr. Maria said. “Baig is very very important. He is the present LeT chief of Maharashtra. He merged the Aurangabad module with the Indian Mujahideen [IM]. He has created a huge module in the State. He had plans for targeting various locations in the State,” Mr. Maria said.
Baig came into contact with Akbar Chaudhary, an IM operative arrested by the Mumbai Crime Branch in 2008 in its crackdown on the terror outfit. Baig was then introduced to Iqbal and Riyaz Shahbandari — known as the Bhatkal brothers.
“The conspiracy for the German Bakery blast was hatched in January 2010. In the last week of January a meeting was held in [the town of] Udgir in Latur district. Mohsin Chaudhary, Mohammad Ahmed Zarar Siddibappa alias Yasin alias Shah Rukh and Baig held the meeting. They came to Pune on January 31 for reconnaissance. Another conspiracy meeting was held on February 3 at Udgir, where the blast plan was finalised,” Mr. Maria said.
On February 7, between 1 and 5 a.m. the conspirators brought the explosives to Global Internet Café, run by Baig, at Udgir in Latur district, where they fabricated the bomb. On the morning of February 13, Yasin and Baig, carrying the bomb, left Udgir by bus, reaching Pune in the afternoon, and they planted the bomb in the bakery. It went off around 7.30 p.m.