“Imam Saheb,” “Badam Rogan,” “Changez Khan” and “Safedi” – these nick names would sound innocuous to an ordinary person connoting nothing else than what they mean in common parlance. However, police findings reveal that for Tunda they were means to differentiate between various mixtures of explosives he had developed through years of experimentation.
Purported revelations by one of Tunda’s “disciples” — who was earlier arrested by the Crime Branch in connection with the 1996-98 blasts in the Capital — throw light on various facets of the alleged Lashkar-e-Taiba ideologue who was part of a list of top-20 wanted international criminals handed over by the Indian authorities to their Pakistani counterparts in 2008 for extradition.
This disciple of Tunda had crossed over to Pakistan along with his mother in 1990 with an intention to settle down there. In due course, he attended certain meetings and under the influence of certain speakers decided to join a terror outfit. Following his physical and weapon training, he was introduced to one Baba, a five-feet- four-inches-tall man who sported a long beard and had his left arm amputated.
“Tunda, known as Baba to his pupils, lived in Pakistan under the pseudonym Abdul Quddus as disclosed to us over a decade ago. The Pakistani passport seized from Tunda also bore the same name, which corroborates our findings,” said a police officer.
In mid 1990s, Baba, who lectured the trainees on the Babri Masjid demolition and other incidents of violence by Right wing extremists in India, took them to Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir for training in configuring improvised explosive devices (IEDs). “They all stayed at Baba’s place. One of the rooms was a storehouse for arms, ammunition and different types of chemicals. He demonstrated to the trainees how mixing chemicals could cause fire. One Abu Dijjana acted as his assistant,” said the officer.
Baba had invented his own nomenclature for identifying the mixture of explosives he had developed. For instance, he would describe a 70:30 ratio mixture of potassium base and sugar as “Imam Saheb.” He had named another type of IED comprising two prime ingredients (names withheld) in 80:20 ratio as “Badam Rogan”, whereas another bomb configured using a different mixture in 60:40 ratio was named as “Changez Khan.” Tunda also coined a term “Safedi” for potassium chlorate.
Baba allegedly manufactured his own detonators using a “special” powder not known to the trainees. Over the years, he had through numerous experiments perfected the art of bomb making and would also teach the new recruits how to amplify the intensity of blast using a certain shape of the metal container. He would also share details on the exact parameters of the container to be used for configuring bombs.
“During the training, the recruits would take an oath that they would not train anyone in bomb making without a prior permission from Baba and would not make this a ‘business’.” At his instance, the trained recruits would travel to Dhaka in Bangladesh on business visas using Pakistani passports. On many occasions, they were made to stay at Jatrabari from where they would be taken to Rajshahi. The recruits would then board a bus to a village close to Indo-Bangladesh border from where they would cross over to West Bengal with the help of Baba’s conduits. In 1990s, guides would charge barely Rs.25 to Rs.250 per head to help people cross the border.
Baba allegedly instructed his men to set up dyeing and printing workshops to procure chemicals used in bomb manufacturing without raising any suspicion. One such factory was set up at Pilakhua in Hapur; it was later busted by the police.
What followed was a series of explosions in and around the Capital, an act of terror attributed to the alleged mastermind Tunda.