13/7 blasts: Delhi "baffled" at Mumbai claims

Last Updated: Mon, Jan 23, 2012 21:03 hrs

The sheer disarray of India's security agencies came to the fore once again on Monday after Maharashtra's police announced that it had "cracked" the case of last year's Mumbai blasts, only to have the Centre rebuke their claims within hours.

Following a heavily detailed claim by the Mumbai police to have arrested two key suspects in the July 13, 2011 serial blasts that killed 27 people, the Union Home Ministry expressed its dismay, noting that one of the two held was an informer for the Delhi Police and the Intelligence Bureau.

At a news conference, chief of Mumbai police's anti-terrorist squad (ATS) Rakesh Maria, told journalists that Naquee Ahmed, 22 and Nadeem Akhtar Shaikh, 23 -- both hailing from Bihar -- had been arrested.

He said that they had sought custody of a third person, Harun Naik, held by a different law enforcement body in a separate fake currency case, for allegedly providing financial support for the blasts

However, Maria's dramatic claims were soon punctured as Home Ministry officials in New Delhi countered his assertions, underscoring yet again a sensational lack of coordination among security agencies probing the terror case.

Home Ministry officials, unwilling to be named, told reporters that they were "baffled" at the arrest of Naquee Ahmed who had apparently been helping a Delhi Police special cell and the Intelligence Bureau.

"He was the person who provided crucial leads to Waqas and Tabrez, the two bombers in the 13/7 blast," the officials were quoted as saying, referring to how the July 13 blasts are popularly known in India.

Earlier, Maria said that Indian Mujahideen (IM) co-founder Ahmed Zarar Siddibappa alias Yasin Bhatkal was the main conspirator in the triple bombings that killed 27 people and injured 107 in Mumbai, in the most deadly attack since Pakistan-based militants struck Mumbai in 2008.

"Yasin Bhatkal is the main accused in this case. He started the Darbhanga (terror) module where he held programmes to indoctrinate young boys and used them in such blasts," Maria said.

He also gave details such as how his team had visited 18 states during the investigation and had examined exactly 12,373 witnesses, adding that the financial trail of the blasts has been "fully uncovered".

"We have analysed CCTV footage of close to 180 cameras at the blast sites," Maria said, adding that a "crucial lead" in the case was obtained by the ATS in the end of November, last year.

"Success was achieved and we were able to pin point the perpetrators of the crime," Maria said.

The Home Ministry is yet to react officially on the disclosure, but sources said that it was "not in loop" about the arrests.

The Home Secretary was informed only after he called up the ATS, sources said.

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