Varanasi blast: Dr Shahnawaz, Bhatkal brothers emerge as main suspects after mail traced to Vashi

Varanasi blast

A day after the blast in Varanasi's Sheetla ghat killed a toddler and injured 37 others, the Mumbai Police said on Wednesday that Bhatkal brothers Riyaz and Iqbal the chiefs of the Indian Mujahideen had masterminded the explosion.

The Bhatkal brothers are in Pakistan.

Preliminary investigations have shown the actual muscle to carry on the blasts was provided by Dr Shahnawaz, the brother of IM foot soldier Mohammed Saif who was arrested in the Batla House encounter in September 19, 2008.

In that encounter, a week after the Delhi blasts, the then IM commander Atiq Amin was killed and Saif arrested.

Dr Shahnawaz, who is both in Dubai and Pakistan now, took charge thereafter. A Pakistan-trained mujahideen, Shahnawz is in regular touch with the Bhatkal brothers, sources said.

He is also involved in the Delhi, Ahmedabad and Jaipur blasts.

It was widely expected that the IM terror modules that operated out of Azamgarh had been wiped out after the Batla encounter. But that is not so.

Preliminary investigations point at IM members based in the Sanjarpur-Saraimeer-Phulpur area of the Azamgarh district, just 100 kilometres from Varanasi.

Dr Shahnawaz along with aides Khalid, Abu Rashid and Bada Sajid or Mohammed Sajid had fled to Nepal after the Batla House encounter. This former physician in Lucknow Hospital is purportedly now in both Dubai and Pakistan. All four now hold Nepalese passports

Meanwhile, the email in which the banned terrorist group, Indian Mujahideen, claimed responsibility for the bomb blast in Varanasi originated from the suburb Vashi in Navi Mumbai.

The email which was shot to several media houses minutes after the blast was sent through an unsecured WiFi connection of the Airtel broadband, official sources have said.

The Indian Mujahideen module had hacked into a broadband Internet connection of a Navi Mumbai resident.

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