BENGALURU: The city police are close to identifying a terrorist responsible for the Church Street blast that killed a woman and injured four bystanders on Sunday.
They have matched the picture of a man known to sympathise with a terror group with a sketch prepared by their artists. The artists had based their portraits on descriptions provided by eyewitnesses and employees of various establishments in the vicinity of the blast.
“We have a face and a name, but it is still too early to confirm he was behind the bomb blast,” a senior policeman involved in the investigation said.
Even as this Express reporter was talking to the policeman, the portrait and the matching photo went out to all members of a Special Investigation Team on the mobile messaging application Whatsapp.
The group was formed to share and co-ordinate information. The top brass, besides inspectors working on the field, are members of the group.
M N Reddi, City Police Commissioner, on Wednesday said a forensic report had confirmed that the improvised explosive device had been placed in front of Coconut Grove on the very day of the blast.
“This confirmation helps us tremendously as it narrows down our search to that day. It means someone did something on Church Street that day and we need to find that someone,” Reddi said.
He added, however, that the city police would look at CCTV footage as far back as possible to ascertain if the suspect had done a recce, and to see if anybody else was involved.
It is unlikely that the suspect discreetly threw the bomb and went away as there was no space between the bush and the wall. The plant was badly maintained and it would have been easy to hide the bomb there, investigators said.
Alok Kumar, who heads the Special Investigation Team, said while the ‘needle of suspicion’ pointed to SIMI and the Forensic Sciences Laboratory also indicated this, he could not yet say which organisation the attacker was from.
He said terror groups from any of Karnataka’s three neighbouring states could be behind the blast, and did not rule out the involvement of followers of Kerala’s Abdul Nazer Madani of the People’s Democratic Party. Madani was in judicial custody for his involvement in the 2008 serial blasts in Bengaluru, but was released on bail this year to enable him to undergo eye surgery.
Police believe the blast was timed for December to grab the attention of ‘sponsors’, especially in the wake of the arrest of Islamic State fan Mehdi Masroor Biswas.
Mehdi was arrested by the Bengaluru police for posting pro-IS messages on microblogging site Twitter. The police have, so far, ruled out his direct involvement with the IS, but have continued to keep him in custody. The custody ends on January 2.
“Mehdi’s unmasking and arrest made headlines across the world. Everyone was watching Bengaluru, and a blast allows the terror groups to make a statement, especially to their bosses and sponsors,” an investigating officer said. “We believe this was the objective — making a statement.”
Citizens on alert
Jolted awake by the Church Street bomb blast, citizens have begun calling DCP (Central) Sandeep Patil and the control room.
On Wednesday alone, he received eight calls about abandoned, unidentified vehicles and objects from different parts of the central business district.
Tweeting his appreciation, Patil said, “Shows that the public are with us in keeping extra vigil. Thank you.”