Manas Dasgupta

AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat police are believed to have picked up two key operators behind the Ahmedabad serial bomb blasts and Surat explosive plantings. This is expected to solve the mystery behind the terror attack.

Even as the police officials refused to either confirm or deny the reports, sources close to the State police said that the recent arrest in Vadodara of Javed Bangali had led the police to picking up Sajid Mansuri from Broach a couple of days ago.

Sajid, a SIMI activist, is believed to be the mastermind behind both the Ahmedabad blasts and the botched Surat operations. He was reportedly helped with funds, equipment and technical know-how by the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba, but for the first time the manpower used by the module for the Ahmedabad and Surat operations was believed to have been picked up locally, mostly from Surat and Vadodara.

Sajid was among the three SIMI activists who escaped when the police raided a hall in Nanpura locality in Surat when a secret meeting of the outfit’s top guns drawn from all over the country was on in 2001. The other 123 SIMI activists were held by the police then and some of them are still behind bars.

New faces

The shattered Surat module was again pieced together after the 2002 communal carnage in the State by drawing young new faces from Surat and Vadodara. The module was reportedly planning the Ahmedabad blasts for a long time and was looking for the right opportunity to smuggle in explosives and bomb-manufacturing materials into the State from across the border. The plans were speeded up following the arrest in Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh of the SIMI chief, Safdar Nagori, in June.

The final meeting of the module was held somewhere in Vadodara on June 22. The bombs and explosives used for both the Ahmedabad blasts and Surat attempted bombings were reportedly all assembled in Vadodara.

Sajid is also believed to be the only one of the SIMI activists to be involved in both the Ahmedabad blasts of July 26 and Jaipur serial blasts of May 31. Some other present and former SIMI activists are believed to have been detained for questioning, but none except Abdul Halim, also wanted in connection with the 2002 communal riots, have so far been placed under arrest.