Sketch of suspect will be ready soon

Maharashtra ATS chief Rakesh Maria at a press conference in Mumbai.  

Investigators will soon have a sketch of a suspect in one of the three explosions that went off in Mumbai on Wednesday.

A Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) camera at one of the locations might also have captured the image of another accused. “We do have at one location a photo which needs more verification and identification,” Additional Director-General of Police and chief of the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) Rakesh Maria said at a press conference here on Saturday. “Our teams are working on it.”

Asked whether it meant that the police would have some details of two different accused, he refused to comment.

Mr. Maria said the sketch would not be released to the media, but would be handed over to the investigating teams. “We have good leads. I can say the investigation is now probably moving in a certain direction,” he said. “Investigators have been meeting witnesses at various locations. At one of the locations, based on the accounts of eye-witnesses, we are in the process of getting a sketch by tonight [Saturday night].”

Investigators have also been successful in retrieving the metallic portions of the containers used to store the explosives at all the three places. Mr. Maria said the pieces would be sent for examination.

The joint teams of the Mumbai Crime Branch and the ATS have also questioned a few accused who are under arrest in Madhya Pradesh.

Mr. Maria said teams had fanned out to different places all over the country. “We are in touch with the police in Karnataka, Rajasthan Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. We are taking their assistance.”

He denied the reports of the possibility of a suicide bomber having been used in the blast. “Based on forensic opinion and the visit to various sites, we can now safely rule out the possibility of a suicide bomber.” The body, which was suspected to have been that of a suicide bomber after an electronic chip was found on it, was later identified as that of a labourer working at Zaveri Bazaar.

Sources told The Hindu that the impact of the blast might have caused the chip to get embedded in the body.

Mr. Maria also denied reports that a two-wheeler in which the explosives were planted at one of the sites had been identified. “Yesterday [on Friday], there were several reports about the motor scooter. On the site, a lot of mangled debris of scooters and cycles have been recovered. One of the vehicles is registered in Gujarat. Its owner has been traced. It is not a suspect vehicle. Work on the other scooters and motorcycles is going on. Forensic experts are helping us get the details.”

The police may also be verifying details of a suspicious call made to the police control room after the blast. “No suspicious calls were intercepted before the blast. After the blasts too, all calls were verified, except one,” Mr. Maria said.

He confirmed that the police control room had received calls from Buldhana and Aurangabad in Maharashtra after one blast, saying another blast would take place. “We went into the call but did not find anything.”

The police have not yet made any arrest, but are interrogating various modules arrested in the past. Even the possibility of the involvement of the Mumbai underworld is being looked into.

The police are taking technical assistance for improving the images of the CCTV footage. “There are a lot of grains in the footage. We are taking technical help. We should be able to get better images in the next 24-48 hours,” Mr. Maria said.

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Printable version | Jan 17, 2021 6:13:00 AM |

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