NEW DELHI: A conspiracy had been hatched to harm Prime Minister-elect Narendra Modi, the NIA claimed today, saying it has cracked last year's Patna serial blasts case with the arrest of four persons including a juvenile allegedly having association with banned terror groups like SIMI and Indian Mujhaideen.
Terming it as a "big success", NIA Director General Sharad Kumar told reporters at a hurriedly called press conference here that "definitely the conspiracy among these people was to harm Modiji. The people whom we have arrested earlier in the Patna blast case had said that they had recced Modi's rallies and went there to see how to get near him.
Kumar said that the team had carried out dry runs at four places -- Akbarpur, Kanpur (Uttar Pradesh), Delhi and Patna. But finding it very difficult in view of Modi's security,they planted bombs at the Patna rally out one of which was placed barely 100 metres from the dais, NIA officials said.
However, it did not explode and was recovered by the Bihar Police only after a day.
Among those arrested by NIA included Hyder Ali alias 'Black Beauty', Mojibullah, Numan Ansari and a juvenile (whose identity was not disclosed), he said.
Except for Ali, NIA had announced a cash reward of Rs 5 lakh on other three who allegedly planted the bombs during October 27 rally of Modi.
At least seven people were killed and scores others injured when bombs exploded at a make-shift railway platform and at the rally of Modi.
Kumar said with these arrests NIA has cracked three cases which include the Bodh Gaya temple blasts, the Patna rally blasts and explosions in Hyderabad's Dilsukhnagar.
Good coordination between Central intelligence agencies, NIA and the local police led by Superintendent of Police Palamau in Jharkhand led to the arrests, he said.
Ali had been on the radar ever since the arrest of Indian Mujahideen member Tehseen Akhthar alias Monu by Delhi Police last month.
However, the arrested members belonged to 'Ranchi module' of banned SIMI group which had been conspiring to carry out a terror attack, officials said.
The first one was at Bodh Gaya in which two persons including a monk received minor injuries.
"We have unravelled the entire conspiracy. However, further interrogation of the accused will be done to obtain more information," he said.
The Bodh Gaya blasts were carried out in retaliation of the "atrocities done on Rohingyas" in Myanmar, he said.
Kumar said 25-year-old Ali was the "kingpin" and was in touch with his "handlers" overseas and was also receiving money through the Hawala route.
Kumar said all the arrested were operatives of the banned outfit SIMI and were in close coordination with the Indian Mujahideen (IM).
"I wouldn't say the IM is finished in India but they have become weak. Their cadres are demoralised," he said.
After the Patna blasts, these people had been in hiding with different identities. "Now all those places will be checked," he said.
He said Ali and Mojibullah were arrested from Ranchi and based on their questioning, two more accused were arrested at Daltonganj in Jharkhand with the help of local Superintendent of Police, who personally supervised the operation.
"Their interrogation till now, reveals their plans to recruit young boys for their organization from the states of Jharkhand, Bihar and UP with a view to attack vital installations and important personalities," an official statement of the NIA said.
Terming Ali as the "main kingpin" behind recent bomb blasts in Patna and Bodh Gaya, NIA said that he had recruited young boys for carrying out the disruptive activities.
"He is the most important person after the arrest of Tehsin Akhtar alias Monu and Waqas. He was attempting to revive the sagging morale of the cadres of his organization."
The agency also claimed that he has been found to be working at the behest of foreign handlers and receiving funds through Hawala channels.
"Their arrest clearly establishes the links between the SIMI and IM," he said.