BHOPAL: The ISIS inspired terror suspects from Uttar Pradesh behind the Bhopal-Ujjain passenger train blast in Madhya Pradesh on March 7 had tried to target Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Dussehra rally in Lucknow in October 2016, but failed. Ten passengers had suffered injuries in the incident.
Not only did they plan the blast with a pipe based IED at Aishbag Ramlila Ground to trigger panic, but also tried to plant it at the venue on October 10 night, hours before the PM's rally was slated for next evening, sources privy to investigators told The New Indian Express.
The group comprising Mohd Saifullah (gunned down by UP ATS in encounter on March 7 late night), Danish Akhtar alias Jafar, Syed Mir Hussain alias Hamza and their leader Atif Muzaffar alias Al Qasim went with the bomb to the rally venue on October 10 night.
After finding massive security at Aishbag ground, the ISIS suspects planted the IED at another ground close to PM's rally venue. The PM had addressed the Dussehra rally at Aishbag Ramlila Ground in Lucknow on October 11, 2016 evening.
"Unable to find in media any news about any blast near PM's rally venue on October 12, 2016, the ISIS inspired men returned to the spot three days later, but found embers of exploded preparatory IED and it's subtle impact on the grassy ground adjacent to Aishbag Ramlila Ground," a key interrogator of the arrested trio claimed.
Three of these men identified as Atif, Danish and Syed Mir Hussain were arrested by MP ATS from Pipariya in Hoshangabad district of MP a few hours after the train blast near Jabdi in Shajapur district (around 150 km from Bhopal) on March 7, 2017.
The three men who are in NIA custody till March 27 were taken to Lucknow on Wednesday.
The NIA team is likely to take them to those spots where they had tested 4-5 preparatory bombs in Lucknow and Kanpur months before carrying out the IED blast in the train in MP on March 7 morning, which is being seen as first terror act by ISIS inspired terror suspects anywhere in India, added sources.
While one of the bombs was planted at the ground in vicinity of PM's Dussehra rally in Lucknow, another bomb prepared in a cold drink bottle was planted at railway tracks near Ghatampur Road in Kanpur district also in 2016, but it failed to give desired results.
Another bomb in a small bottle was tested close to their rented hideout in Haji Colony (Thakurganj) in Lucknow last year where Saifullah was gunned down in encounter on March 7 night. According to the sources, the four men who drew inspiration for their acts from ISIS videos on the internet prepared the bombs based on al Qaeda literature available online.
"Their first brush with crime, however, came when they gunned down a retired school headmaster in rural Kanpur in October 2016," said a senior state police official in Bhopal.
They filmed their acts of crime and kept with them the newspaper clips of the headmaster's murder to prove their credentials for apparently furthering their dream of joining ISIS in Khorasen on Pak-Afghan border.
They also conducted a recce of Sufi shrine Dewa Sharif in Barabanki, besides two other places of worship of Shia Muslims in Lucknow and Rae Bareli, all in UP.
They also planned to kill a Muslim scholar in Lucknow for having issued statements against the Islamic State (IS.
Sources told that the accused travelled across the country, spanning from Jaisalmer in Rajasthan and Amritsar in Punjab to Kashmir just to sneak into Pakistan, but failed in their endeavour due to lack of local support.
Failing to go to Pak-Afghan border, the four stayed in a village in Kozhikode (Kerala) for a few weeks to fly to the Middle East to join ISIS in Syria or Iraq, but failed. Prior to it they were holed up in jungles of Panna district in Madhya Pradesh.