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Kurla traders 'funded' twin blasts

Kurla traders 'funded' twin blasts

Author: S. Ahmed Ali
Publication: The Indian Expres
Date: October 21, 2003
URL: http://cities.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=66210

Investigations into the twin blasts on August 25 have taken a curious route, from the Gateway of India and Zaveri Bazaar to Kurla.

The vital clue came recently, with an explosive confession of a key accused in the March 13 Mulund train blast.

Noor Mohammed Abdul Mallik Ansari (30), part of a gang extorting vast sums of money from businessmen in Kurla, has told the police that the money was used to fund the twin blasts.

It appears that Ansari was a close associate of Naseer Aydeet, who masterminded the August 25 bombings.

So what exactly is the connection?
Police say that Ansari, Aydeet and three others- Riyaz Bhatkal, Shamshad Khan and Papa Khan Istikhar Mehboob Khan-had formed the 'RN' gang to execute the Kurla extortions. While 'R' denotes Riyaz Bhatkal, who is absconding, 'N' stands for Naseer Aydeet, who was killed in a police encounter on September 12.

Ansari is currently in the custody of the Kurla police, in connection with a 1993 riots case.

Other pieces of the puzzle have fallen into place in the series of bombings in Mumbai since December 2 last year, with Ansari telling the police that he is well acquainted with Saquib Nacchen, a former activist of the banned Students Islamin Movement of India (SIMI) and a key accused in several of the blasts.

Nacchen is currently in judicial custody and is acquainted with Bhatkal, who is chairperson of a SIMI unit.

Ansari says the gang used the extortion money to purchase the explosives for the August 25 bombings from Aydeet's hometown in Hyderabad.

The Crime Branch, which is investigating the seven blasts in the city since December 2, is trying to hunt down Bhatkal. Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order), Rakesh Maria confirmed that the gang was extorting money in Kurla but refused to say more.

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