Jharkhand SIM seller quizzed in Hyderabad blast


Kolkata/Ranchi : The West Bengal police have questioned a mobile SIM card seller in Jharkhand in connection with Friday's Mecca Masjid blast in Hyderabad, even as the Bengal CID was assisting the Hyderabad police in investigation.

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"The West Bengal police picked up Mohammad Syed from Mihijam locality of Jamatara district on Sunday. He was later released after interrogation," G.S. Rath, additional director general of police (ADG) of Jharkhand, said Monday.

According to Rath, Syed had sold a SIM card to one Babulala Yadav. "The address mentioned in the driving licence of Yadav says he is from Rukhmpur village of Jamatara district," Rath said.

Police earlier said the SIM card of the mobile used to trigger the blast as well as of the other handset attached to unexploded explosives were bought from this village in Jharkhand, about 250 km from Kolkata.

"Syed had sold a Hutch mobile SIM card. Hutch service is operational in West Bengal and not in Jharkhand. The SIM was sold in June last year," said a police official.

Meanwhile, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of West Bengal was assisting a police team from Hyderabad to probe the blast amid reports that two people were taken for questioning in Asansol town of the state.

Police sources said the two, including Syed, were from Mihijam in Jharkhand state.

Bengal CID Deputy Inspector General of Police (Operations) Rajeev Kumar, however, told IANS in Kolkata: "We are conducting our probe in the case. We have not arrested or detained anyone in this connection so far."

Inspector General of Police (Law and Order) Raj Kanojia said: "The CID is assisting the Hyderabad police. We cannot say anything more but different agencies are working on the probe."

The CID remained tight-lipped so far on the probe and the Bengal links of the blast.

The Hyderabad police suspect that the Bangladesh-based Harkat-ul Jihad Al Islami (HUJI) was behind the blast and its activist Mohammed Shahed alias Bilal, a native of Hyderabad, was its mastermind.

Bilal is believed to have triggered the blast from Bangladesh as a very sophisticated technology was used to detonate the improvised explosive device (IED), filled with a mixture of RDX and TNT. According to police, a phone call from anywhere in the world to a mobile attached to an IED is enough to trigger the blast.

Media reports in Kolkata said the West Bengal and Bangladesh link to the blast was strengthened after it was learnt that Bilal had arrived there last month from Gujarat. The investigators had said the SIM cards were bought in his name.

"Bilal was moving in and around the city during April and stayed at Rajarhat (in North 24-Parganas) and Bangur (in South 24-Parganas)," a newspaper quoted an officer working with the Hyderabad team as saying.

On Sunday, a second mobile phone – a Nokia 6030 – was found from the water tank of the 17th-century Mecca Masjid along with pieces of the explosive device that went off Friday killing 11 people and injuring many others.

A team of officials from the National Security Guards (NSG), forensic experts and the bomb disposal squad combing through the scene of the blast had earlier recovered a mobile phone from the Wazu Khana, where worshippers wash their hands and face before prayers.

Police sources said the Nokia handset, pieces of shrapnel and bits of the IED were recovered from the tank. A cell phone of the same model was found attached to an unexploded bomb found and defused in the mosque premises Friday.

Police hope to make some more progress by tracing the calls made from and received on the phone. Three to four locals are alleged to have helped Bilal, also the mastermind in the suicide blast at the police commissioner's task force office in Hyderabad in October 2005. One policeman was killed in that blast.