In a major operation, city police have arrested eleven persons with suspected links to terror outfits Lashkar-e-Taiba and HuJI and claimed to have foiled their plot to target MPs, MLAs and mediapersons in Karnataka.
A foreign made 7.65 mm pistol, seven rounds of ammunition and other gadgets were seized from the arrested, City Police commissioner Jyotiprakash Mirji told reporters along with DGP L R Pachau. The arrested included a journalist of an English daily, police sources said.
Mirji said all the arrests were made by CCB police yesterday in Hubli in north Karnataka and Bangalore after gathering intelligence inputs for several days. He denied reports about involvement of Uttar Pradesh police in the operation.
"It was a meticulously planned operation by CCB. The arrested had links with banned outfits like LeT and HuJI", Mirji said but refused to share further details remarking "in the interest of the security, case and investigations no more details can be shared at this stage".
The arrested, all aged below 30, planned to target MPs, MLAs and prominent journalists, he said. He said cases under IPC sections 120 B (criminal conspiracy), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion), 307 (attempt to murder), 379 (theft) and under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and Arms Act have been registered against the arrested.
Initial reports had said the four suspected Indian Mujahideen activists involved in the 2010 Chinnaswamy stadium blast case were picked up by police.
Of the 11, six were nabbed in Bangalore and five in Hubli. Mirji gave the names of the arrested as Shoheeb Ahmed Mirza (25) Abdullah (25), Ajaz Mohammad Mirza (25), Mohammad Yusuf Nalaband (28), Riyaz Ahmad Byahatti (28) Muti-ur-Rehman Siddique (26) (all from Bangalore) and Obedullah Imran Bahadur (24), Mohammad Sadiq Lashkar (28), Wahid Hussein (26), Baba (26) and Dr Jafar Iqbal Sholapur (27).
The accused were masterminded by these two banned terror outfits based in Saudi Arabia, Mirji said. The CCB had kept a close watch on the activities of the accused for the past two to three months and also uncovered their hideouts, Mirji said.
"Preliminary investigation points out an international terror network and possibility of such modules existing not only in Karnataka but also in other states", he said.
Police are also investigating whether they had any role behind the recent exodus of north-eastern people from the city in the wake bulks SMS' warning of an atttack against them.
Responding to a query, Mirji said "the investigation conducted so far has not revealed about their earlier involvement in such activities. However, the probe is still on which might lead to more information about their activities and also about a larger network as incriminating material has also been seized".
DGP Pachau, lauding the "exemplary" work done by the CCB team, said busting of this conspiracy has "averted a major catastrophe."