Perpetrators of the Malleswaram terror attack almost succeeded in throwing the police off the scent by using a SIM card stolen from a Hindu activist. A stroke of luck and persistent work by a forensics team helped the Bangalore police crack down on the gang that exploded the bomb, police said. A SIM card provided the vital breakthrough, according to H M Omkaraiah, Assistant Commissioner of Police and investigating officer in the case. Those involved in the blast were traced through the card used to trigger the bomb fitted to a motorbike, he told Express. “The SIM and the bike led us to Tamil Nadu,” he explained. On April 17, 2013, the bike had exploded into many pieces, but the police were able to find all the parts. “Once the chassis was pieced together, we were able to get the registration number and trace it to Tamil Nadu,” said Omkaraiah. The owners on record told the police they had sold the bike.
The vehicle had changed hands in Vellore three days before the blast. Auto consultant Gopi, who mediated the deal, gave investigators the mobile number of buyer Fakhruddin. It turned out two men, called Police Fakhrudin and Bilal Malik, had gone to buy the bike. They had, in an unguarded moment, disclosed the number of the SIM card they later used to trigger the blast. “Initially, they had given him a wrong number. Soon after finalising the deal, they went to buy petrol. Gopi tried calling this number, but found it was switched off,” Omkaraiah said. When they came back to take the bike, Gopi confronted them and asked them to give him a missed call. Unable to think quickly, Fakhruddin reportedly gave Gopi the number of the stolen SIM card, which the auto consultant dutifully noted. It was only later that the police realised the card was stolen from a Hindu activist in an effort to derail the investigation. One of the accused, Wahid, had apparently followed the owner of the SIM, with the specific intention of making the police go after Hindu groups. The policemen were puzzled, and had reached a dead end. “However, Gopi described the purchasers as Muslims and was adamant about it. We realised there was a missing link,” Omkaraiah said. The police then looked through the records of the stolen card and found that Fakhruddin had called Kitchen Buhari. They had spoken for two minutes. The Tamil Nadu police told the Bangalore police that Buhari had been involved in various cases against Hindu organisations. He had also been implicated in the Coimbatore blasts case. Buhari was arrested, and helped the police nab the others. Now in custody are: Kitchen Buhari (38), believed to be the mastermind, Penna Ismail, Police Fakhruddin, Basheer, Bilal Malik (25) and Parveh Basha. Ali Khan Kutty is the only accused still at large.
Who Placed the Bomb?
The police believe Penna Ismail, who was nabbed after a fierce gun battle in Puttur, is the man who planted the bomb in Malleswaram. Bilal Malik and Police Fakhruddin also, allegedly, played a major role in the operation. All three were arrested by the Tamil Nadu police at Puttur on October 5, 2013. A chargesheet was filed on October 17, 2013. The case may come up for hearing shortly. The police filed the chargesheet after examining 260 witnesses. It runs into three volumes with 7,445 pages of material, and 201 documents. Police records say 18 persons were injured, while 23 vehicles and 56 buildings were damaged in the blast, resulting in a loss of about `50 lakh. All it took the perpetrators was six months of planning and `50,000 to execute the attack. Police suspect a long chain of operatives, and are naming Saddam Hussain and Thenkaasi Haneef as also having terror links. The other accused are Sait Azgar Ali (29), Rehamathulla, Valayil Hakeem (32), Syed Suleman (24), Suleman (31), Zulfikar Ali (24), Mohammed Salin (30), Wahid, and Wazir.