The National Investigation Agency (NIA) will interrogate Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist Abdul Karim Tunda , who was arrested in 2013 and is currently lodged in jail, in connection with the Darbhanga railway station blast in Bihar in June. The agency has found a link between him and the man who configured the bomb.
Said to be a bomb-making expert, Tunda was absconding for about two decades before he was arrested by the Delhi police near the India-Nepal border in Uttarakhand on August 16, 2013. He had close links with Pakistan-based Iqbal Kana, at whose instance a bomb was planted on the Secunderabad-Darbhanga Express train, according to the NIA.
Wanted in multiple cases of bomb blasts, Tunda had escaped to Pakistan via Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia in 1994-95. He was introduced to Kana through a resident of Gujranwala (Pakistan) in 2009. At that time, Kana dealt in fake Indian currencies. He roped in Tunda for storing and distributing the notes to various contacts.
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Tunda’s name in the Darbhanga blast case cropped up after the NIA recently arrested Mohammed Nasir Khan and his brother Imran, Saleem Ahmad aka Haji Saleem and Kafeel Ahmad. As it turned out, Khan is a distant relative of Kana, who is also from Kairana in Shamli and had moved to Pakistan in the 1990s.
As Khan was struggling to establish his garment business, a childhood friend advised him to contact Kana for assistance. Kana agreed to help, provided the accused followed his instructions.
In February 2012, Khan went to Lahore on a visa arranged by Kana. He was introduced to some Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and army officers, following which he underwent training. Kana then asked him to meet Tunda in Karachi. Under Tunda’s supervision, the accused learnt to configure Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) using readily available chemical precursors.
After a six-month stay in Pakistan, he returned to India and operated as an LeT sleeper cell agent till 2020. His brother was also in touch with Kana and was part of the cell, as alleged.
Accused Saleem also knew Kana as both were from the same village. During 1990-2005, he had visited Pakistan several times to import garments. He also smuggled in fake Indian currency notes, for which he was arrested in West Bengal on August 25, 2005. Haji Saleem also ran a ‘hawala’ network in coordination with Kana.
The NIA probe has revealed that in December 2020 and later in February this year, the accused met at Haji Saleem’s house in Kairana. On Kana’s instructions, they planned to plant a bomb on a train, bus or other means of public transport. They were provided ₹2 lakh through a Delhi-based “hawala” operator. Khan and his brother also delivered two pistols to an unknown man on Kana’s instruction.
Khan and his brother went back to Hyderabad and prepared a small IED as a trial. They finally decided to plant a bomb in the Secunderabad-Darbhanga Express train. It is alleged that they intended to cause large casualties through an explosion on the moving train.
On June 15, it is alleged, the duo took the parcel carrying the IED to the Secunderabad railway parcel office. Posing as Mohammad Sufiyan, Imran booked the package using a fake PAN card. The railway officials kept the parcel on the train the same day and, at night, the train left the Secunderabad railway station.
Two days later, the parcel was offloaded at the Darbhanga railway station. The IED exploded soon thereafter, but no one was injured.
Tunda, who will now be questioned by the NIA to verify the disclosures made by Khan, was sentenced to life imprisonment by a trial court in October 2017 for his involvement in the 1996 Sonepat bomb blasts in Haryana. Till recently, he was lodged in Ghaziabad’s Dasna Jail.