The NIA has detained two more alleged IM operatives in Ranchi, who are likely to be produced before the court on Thursday.
The four accused, NIA director general Sharad Kumar said, were in touch with foreign handlers and received money through hawala transactions. "IM and SIMI are trying to regroup under different banners like Indian Muslim Front. They had planned to attack prominent personalities and vital installations. But we managed to nab them early," he said. However, he remained tight lipped over the detention other two operatives in Ranchi.
The arrests, Sharad said, is a major 'breakthrough' and would hamper the functioning of IM considerably.
According to NIA, the arrested accused and their fellow operatives arrested earlier had carried out recce at four places — Akbarpur, Kanpur (Uttar Pradesh), Delhi and Patna, where Modi had to address election rallies. However, due to stringent security arrangements, they decided to execute serial blasts in his rally rather than targeting him directly. This is when they decided to plant bombs at the Patna rally venue, one of the unexploded bombs was reportedly found very near the dais.
25-year-old B.Com graduate, Haider Ali alias 'Black Beauty' is considered as big catch by the NIA, who not only executed the plan but also indoctrinated the youth in Bihar Jharkand and UP to join IM. "He is the most important person after the arrest of Tehsin Akhtar alias Monu and Waqas. He was attempting to revive morale of the cadres of his organisation."
"If needed we would confront him with Yasin Bhatkal as well," said Kumar. The other accused were identified as Mojibullah, Numan Ansari and a 16 year old juvenile.
Except, Ali, NIA had announced a cash reward of Rs five lakh on three accused who had allegedly planted the bombs during October 27, 2013 rally of Modi. The blasts killed seven people, while several others were injured.
"I wouldn't say the IM is finished in India but they have become weak. Their cadres are demoralised," he said.
As of now NIA, claims to have cracked all three cases handed over to the agency last year. "13 persons were arrested in Patna serial blast case, eight in Bodh Gaya blast case and four in Dilsukh Nagar blast case. All the three cases have been completely solved," added Kumar. The Bodh Gaya blasts Kumar said were carried out to avenge "atrocities committed against Rohingyas" in Myanmar.
The NIA arrested Ali and Mojibullah from Ranchi and based on their questioning, two more accused were arrested at Daltonganj in Jharkhand with the help of local Superintendent of Police, who supervised the operation. The locals in Ranchi according to reports protested the arrests and also pelted stones at the NIA team and local police.
"Our team had gone to gather some evidence after the arrests, but had to face some protests and stone pelting," Kumar acknowledged. Some of the locals even chased away the media persons, who had gone to interview family members of the arrested accused.