Maharashtra Police bust plot to poison food, water

Maharashtra ATS arrests 8 suspects

Updated - January 24, 2019 07:36 am IST

Published - January 24, 2019 12:14 am IST - Mumbai

Shocking claim:  The terror suspects being produced in a court in Aurangabad on Wednesday.

Shocking claim: The terror suspects being produced in a court in Aurangabad on Wednesday.

Questioning of the nine persons picked up over the last three days by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad has indicated that the terror suspects may have been planning to poison food and water sources at public gatherings, investigators claimed.

The ATS nabbed four suspects from Aurangabad and five from Mumbra, for allegedly planning terrorist activities in the State and elsewhere.

Eight of the accused were placed under arrest in the early hours of Wednesday.

A local court in Aurangabad later in the day remanded eight suspects to police custody till February 5, while one minor suspect was produced before the Juvenile Justice Board.

The arrested accused have been identified as Mohseen Khan, Salman Khan, Taki Khan, Fahad Shah, Zamen Kutepadi, Mohammad Mazhar Shaikh, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Zahid Shaikh and a 17-year-old.

Chemicals seized

Mohseen, Salman and Taki are brothers, whose main task was to recruit and radicalise young men. They created a social media group called Ummat-e-Mohammdiya (followers/disciples of Prophet Muhammed) for the purpose.

The ATS seized several bottles of chemicals, including hydrogen peroxide, from the suspects. It said it wanted to question the accused if they were out to execute a chemical attack on the Kumbh Mela in Prayagraj or Republic Day events.

They have been charged under section 120 b (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code and section 19 (Punishment for harbouring), section 20 (punishment for being member of terrorist gang or organisation), section 38 (offence relating to membership of a terrorist organisation), and section 39 (Offence relating to support given to a terrorist organisation) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967.

Investigating officers said the accused were in constant touch with each other through the internet.

“We had been monitoring their cyber activities for several weeks and moved in three days ago when their activities indicated that they were actually taking a step further. We have recovered several bottles of various chemicals from them which, if combined, would be harmful when ingested. The quantity seized from them indicates that their plan was at the experimental stage when they were picked up,” an officer said.

The officer said the accused were in touch with their handlers from the Islamic State based across the border, and the locations of these handlers are being verified.

“The IS is no longer limited to Syria and also has a presence in Afghanistan and Bangladesh. The Internet has made it possible for terrorist elements to stay on the move and still coordinate with their recruits,” the officer said.

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