Suspected Indian Mujahideen (IM) operative Mohammed Qateel Siddiqui was murdered in the high-security Anda Cell in the Yerwada jail in Pune on Friday morning by two fellow inmates.
Siddiqui, in judicial custody, was being tried by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad for his alleged role in a conspiracy to plant a bomb outside a temple in Pune. He was also allegedly involved in the Bangalore Chinnaswamy stadium and Delhi Jama Masjid blasts.
Official sources in Mumbai said Siddiqui was strangulated by Sharad Mohol and Amol Bhalerao for being part of “anti-national activities.” Both are members of a Pune criminal gang.
Hours after the incident, Maharashtra Home Minister R.R. Patil ordered a CID probe and suspended Jail Superintendent S.V. Khatavkar.
Siddiqui was to have been produced in a Pune court on Friday afternoon. Informed sources said the ATS did not want to extend his custody further and proposed to allow the Delhi Police to take him back.
Narrating the jail crime which took place between 9.45 and 11.45 a.m., the police said that while Bhalerao allegedly pinned Siddiqui's legs to the ground, Mohol strangled him with the cord of his trousers.
Thereafter, Bhalerao himself was said to have told another inmate about the murder and the latter informed the jail authorities.
There are conflicting reports on whether Siddiqui had a tiff with Mohol and Bhalerao the day before. Siddiqui, a resident of Darbhanga in Bihar, was first arrested by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police in November 2011.
The Maharashtra ATS sought his custody to probe his involvement in the conspiracy to plant a bomb outside the Shrimant Dagdusheth Halwai Ganpati Temple in Pune. The police said Siddiqui's attempt to plant a bomb in the temple failed as a flower vendor refused to keep a bag of explosives. Siddiqui then travelled to Mumbai and disposed of the timer in the sea after removing the battery.
While in custody, the ATS claimed, Siddiqui had given information about the whereabouts in Bihar of the absconding IM mastermind Yasin Bhatkal. He was seen as a close link to Bhatkal, wanted for several terror incidents in the country and named co-accused in the conspiracy to bomb the Dagdusheth temple and in Pune's German Bakery blast case.
The sources said Siddiqui was introduced to Bhatkal in Delhi by another IM operative Gohar Aziz Khumani, now in the custody of the Delhi Police.