ATS teams from Mumbai, Gujarat question jailed youths, draw a blank

By TCN Special Correspondent,

Ahmedabad: The sleuths of the Mumbai and Gujarat Anti-Terrorists Squad (ATS) are focusing on Gujarat to crack the July 13 blasts that killed 22 persons and injured about seven dozen others. However, the sleuths from the two states are only interrogating former SIMI (students Islamic Movement of India) activists and others connected with them, giving an impression that the members of the minority community are involved in the blasts.

Support TwoCircles

The reason advanced for interrogating the Muslims is that it were the former SIMI members, some of whom had reportedly floated Indian Mujahideen(IM), who were allegedly involved in July 2008 serial bomb blasts in Ahmedabad and planting of live bombs in Surat. The sleuths are working on the logic that some of the IM men yet not arrested and their sympathisers may be behind the recent Mumbai attacks.

Sabarmati Jail

Sources say that all the 64 accused arrested from different places in the country — from as far as Kerala, Azamgarh (UP), Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat — and lodged in Sabramati central jail here in connection with the Ahmedabad blasts have been interrogated within the jail after Mumbai blasts to know if any of their associates were involved in the Mumbai terror incident.

According to sources, their friends and family members in Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat, Modasa and other places in the state have also been questioned by the sleuths of the two states but investigators have so far drawn a total blank. A Muslim activist said that he had so far been questioned at least seven times and for about seven to eight hours at a stretch each time since the recent Mumbai blasts.

In fact, the sleuths from Mumbai and Gujarat also allegedly interrogated each and every member of Nandanpeda village with 100 per cent Muslim population — an interior village in the jungles of tribal dominated Dangs district. The district has its borders with Maharashtra with thick jungles on both sides. They were interrogated on the suspicion that the accused persons might have taken refuge either in the village or the nearby jungles. It may be recalled that the Nandanpeda villagers had three years ago been subjected to police excesses and also forced alleged by the administration to convert to Hinduism. They were threatened that they would be forcibly thrown out of their village and their properties confiscated if they did not oblige. But the Muslim villagers refused to surrender and stood their ground against official intimidation. Consequently, almost every house of the village was partially damaged or pulled down and the male residents had to stay for several days in the nearby jungles fearing police torture.

Surprisingly, the ATS sleuths are not touching the members of the Hindu right wing or the associates of Swami Aseemanand of Dangs, Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur of Surat and several others from Godhra who took part in Malegaon, Mecca Masijid, Ajmer Sharif Dargah and Samjhauta Express blasts. Aseemanand has his Ashram located at Shabari Dham, a village in the interior of the Dangs district surrounded by thick jungles. It was at this place that Aseemand had reportedly conspired with others to target Mecca Masjid and other Muslim places.

In fact, Aseemanand had himself confessed of his involvement in Mecca Masjid and other blasts in which a serving colonel of the Indian Army was also found involved and is currently in jail. Yet, the investigators are not probing that angle and are targetting the Muslim youths that also resulted in death of a man in the custody of the Mumbai police. Now the Mumbai cops are saying that high blood pressure accompanied with brain haemorrhage was the cause of the death.

The sleuths from the two states are also not probing about the scooter with Ahmedabad (Gujarat) registration number found near the blast site in Zaveri Bazar in Mumbai.

The cops are also planting baseless stories in local as well as national media saying they were interrogating the IM operatives arrested from MP and other places. They told media that questioning of Danish Riyaz, a former SIMI activist, arrested in Gujarat a month ago could give some link with Mumbai blasts. It gave an impression that it were Muslims who were behind the Mumbai blasts and thus the image of the entire community was being tarnished. But the sleuths so far have not been able to come out with any concrete evidence against any of the so-called IM operatives in the matter.