Policemen search for clues at the site of a blast in Pune in August this year. Four low-intensity bomb blasts in quick succession shook the city. PTI
The claim made by the Delhi police that it has solved the 1 August Pune blast by busting an Indian Mujahideen (IM) module, flies in the face of earlier statements made by Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and the Pune police commissioner. On the day of the blast, Pune police commissioner Gulabrao Pol had said that the blast was a case of "mischief" and not an act of terror. His words were echoed by the newly sworn in Home Minister, Shinde.
However, Delhi police commissioner Neeraj Kumar announced on 11 October that the blast was masterminded by the founder-brothers of the IM, Riyaz and Iqbal Bhatkal. He also said that that they had arrested Asad Khan, a resident of Aurangabad, Imran Khan, a resident of Nanded in Maharashtra and Sayed Feroz, a resident of Pune, from Nizamuddin railway station on 1 October for being involved in the blast. According to Kumar, the blast was carried out to avenge the killing of suspected IM member Qateel Siddiqui in Yerwada jail in Pune on 8 June.
Kumar alleged that the terrorists had planned everything meticulously. "They brought explosives and electronic items for assembling IEDs (improvised explosive devices) from an electrical market in Budhwarpeth, Pune. They also bought digital watches and circuit boards. Ball bearings were brought by Imran from Nanded. The accused conducted reconnaissance in Mumbai before deciding on Pune," Kumar told the media.
The whole bombing plan was done inside 55 days of Siddiqui's killing. Kumar said that vital inputs were provided by Zabiuddin Ansari, alias Abu Jundal, one of the alleged handlers of the 26/11 Mumbai attackers, who was shown to be arrested on 21 June.
However, the police commissioner did not answer how Jundal, who, as per government's own submission to the Supreme Court, was in Saudi custody, could have been a part of the plot, which was hatched after 8 June. Siddiqui was killed on 8 June, while Jundal, after being in Saudi custody for 16 days, was handed over to India on 21 June. Going by this chronology, Jundal was arrested not later than 5 June by the Saudi authorities and hence he could not have been directly associated with the plan to avenge the death of Siddiqui.
The arrest of Sayed Feroz from the Nizamuddin railway station has also raised questions on the working of the Special Cell, which is notorious for making questionable arrests. This is not for the first time that the Special Cell has arrested someone from a railway station or a metro station. Recently, the Jamia Teachers Solidarity Association (JTSA) in its report titled "Framed, Damned, Acquitted" questioned this "routine" practice of picking up suspects without enlisting the help of independent witnesses. The JTSA quoted a couple of court observations questioning the Delhi police's actions. In the State versus Irshad Ahmad Malik case, the court noticed that any effort to enlist independent witnesses "was omitted by the police deliberately".
Similarly, in the State versus Mukhtar Ahmed case, the court questioned the arrest of an alleged accused by the Special Cell and noted that "the distance between the Special Cell office and the Azadpur Mandi (from where the accused was allegedly apprehended) is 20 kms and is dotted with numerous government offices. In the four and a half hours (the time between the receipt of secret information and arrest) they had, on the long stretch to Azadpur, the Special Cell could have enlisted some credible independent witnesses."