Phone call nailed IM role in Pune blast

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Investigators probing Pune's German Bakery blast have got compelling information to confirm that the attack was the handiwork of the Indian Mujahideen, sources told The Sunday Express, days after Union Home Minister P Chidambaram told Parliament that the case had been cracked.

The breakthrough, the sources said, is based on a telephone call IM co-founder Riyaz Bhatkal is believed to have made to a young IM operative who was in Nepal on the day of the blast on February 13, claiming credit and exchanging congratulations for the attack.

The operative, Salman alias Chotu, was arrested weeks after the blast and is said to be singing about the IM hand in the blast during his interrogation by security agencies from across the country while in custody in Delhi.

"During interrogation, he told us that on February 13, shortly after the Pune blast, he received a call from Riyaz Bhatlal on the Thuraya phone he was using there," a source said. "Riyaz immediately congratulated him. When Salman asked him what the congratulations were for, Riyaz told him to switch on the TV to see the outfit's latest work. This has helped us narrow down the Pune probe to one outfit and its members."

Salman belongs to Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh and spent several years of his childhood in Mumbai's western suburb of Nirmal Nagar, studying up to class eight in a municipal school opposite the Bandra Metropolitan Magistrates Court. According to the UP Police, Salman was enrolled in the Bachelor of Computer Applications (BCA) course in the Lucknow campus of Sikkim Manipal University in 2008.

Alleged to be a teenage bomber, Salman is accused of involvement in the serial bomb blasts in Gorakhpur in May 2007, the simultaneous blasts outside civil courts in Varanasi, Lucknow and Faizabad in November 2007, the May 2008 bomb blasts in Jaipur, the serial blasts in Ahmedabad in July 2008, as well as the serial blasts in Delhi in September 2008.

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