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13/7 case cracked, but big fish still at large

Author: Mateen Hafeez & S Ahmed Ali
Publication: The Times of India
Date: January 13, 2012
URL: http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-01-24/india/30658520_1_naqi-ahmed-mumbai-ats-home-ministry

More than six months after three bombs killed 27 people and injured 137 others in Mumbai, the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) announced on Monday that it had cracked the case. Two arrests have been made while a third is expected in a few days. However, in a major disappointment, the arrests are only of the facilitators.

 The three main conspirators, mastermind Yasin Bhatkal and two bomb planters, have been named as wanted accused and are on the run. Those arrested are Naqi Ahmed, 22, and Nadeem Akhtar, 23, both originally from Darbhanga, Bihar.

ATS chief Rakesh Maria said the 13/7 blasts - at Zaveri Bazar, Opera House and Dadar - were the handiwork of Indian Mujahideen. Police said Rs 10 lakh was sent to India via Dubai and Nepal to fund 13/7, Delhi HC and Pune German Bakery blasts.

 After the Mumbai ATS held a press conference in Mumbai on Monday to say it had cracked the 13/7 blasts case, some TV channels said the Union home ministry was baffled by the ATS announcement and was upset it hadn't been informed about the developments. There were also reports that the home ministry said the cops were trying to cover up a recent bungle. However, home ministry sources later denied these claims.

 Arrested accused Naqi Ahmed, 22, and Nadeem Akhtar, 23, were already in custody in a SIM card forgery case. A third man, Haroon Naik, 33, is expected to be arrested in a few days. "These accused facilitated, aided and abetted the July 13 blasts. We will take Naik into custody soon," said ATS chief Rakesh Maria during the press briefing.

 Police teams have been dispatched to various places to trace the wanted accused. Aside from IM founding member Bhatkal, the police showed the other two absconders as simply accused A and B. However, sources said they are most likely Waqqas and Tabrez, two Pakistani nationals who both Delhi police and Mumbai ATS were tracking at Habib Apartments, Byculla, till recently.

Due to an alleged turf battle between the two police teams, which the ATS has denied, the three men reportedly escaped. All the accused have been charged with murder, attempt to murder, and crimes under the Explosives Act and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
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