Ahmedabad: The Gujarat Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) has arrested four persons wanted in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case, officials said Tuesday. Those arrested are Abu Bakar, Saiyad Qureshi, Mohammad Shoeb Qureshi alias Shoeb Bawa and Mohammad Yusuf Ismail alias Yusuf Bhatka. They are all residents of Mumbai and were on the run for 29 years.
The four were held May 12 from Sardarnagar area of Ahmedabad following a tip-off, said Additional Director General of Police, ATS, Amit Vishwakarma. At present they have been booked for allegedly obtaining passports on the basis of forged documents for fleeing the country in 1993. Then they would be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the blasts case, said another official.
“To hide their real identities, they had obtained passports using forged documents. Interpol had issued a Red-Corner Notice against them on the request of the CBI which is probing the serial blasts case,” Vishwakarma told reporters.
The police official stated it was not clear why they were visiting Gujarat. Vishwakarma said that the four were arrested under IPC sections 466 (forgery of record), 468 (forgery for cheating) and 120-B(criminal conspiracy) besides under The Passports Act.
In the 1990s, these four used to work for gold smuggler Mohammed Dossa, a henchman of fugitive gangster and the blasts’ mastermind Dawood Ibrahim, informed DIG (ATS) Deepan Bhadran. “To spread terror in India, Dossa sent them to a country in the Middle East to meet Dawood in February 1993. On Dawood’s directions, they went to Pakistan to get weapons training. Pakistan’s (spy agency) ISI also gave them training in the making and use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs),” Bhadran informed.
All the four were part of the conspiracy hatched by Dawood and others to carry out serial blasts in Mumbai. After the serial blasts, they obtained passports using forged documents. Then they fled to different middle-eastern countries. They were declared ‘proclaimed offenders’ by the special Terrorist and Destructive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) court, which tried the blasts case.
“It is a matter of investigation when they came back to India and what they were doing in Gujarat. Upon completion of their ATS remand in the forgery case, we will hand them over to the CBI in the blasts case,” Bhadran said. Abu Bakar was also involved in the dumping of a consignment of weapons into the sea after the blasts, he added.
At least 257 persons were killed and over 700 injured in the coordinated bombing March 12, 1993 that ripped through Mumbai. While the special TADA court in Mumbai convicted 100 of the accused, the main conspirators Dawood Ibrahim and Tiger Memon remain absconding.