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Mumbai, September 8, 2010
The Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of the Maharashtra Police today said they had arrested two persons from Pune and Nashik in the state for their alleged role in the February 13 bomb blast at the popular German Bakery in Pune.
At least 17 people were killed and 56 others suffered injuries in the blast which occurred during peak evening hours in the restaurant in Pune's Koregaon area, which was popular with foreigners and students.
One of the two persons, Mirza Himayat Baig, 29, was arrested from the Mahatma Gandhi Bus Stand in Pune yesterday afternoon while the other, Shaikh Lalbaba Mohammed Hussain alias Bilal, 27, was picked up from Subash Chandra Bose Marg, Ashok Nagar in Nashik last night, Maharashtra ATS chief Rakesh Maria said.
He said the ATS would produce the pair in a court today and seek their remand and continue investigations in the case.
The attack on the restaurant has been the only major terrorist incident in India after the November 26, 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai in which 166 people were killed.
Mr Maria said Himayat was the "present chief" of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in Maharashtra.
He said the police found two kg of RDX, soldering wires, LeT literature, mobile phone SIM cards procured with fraudulent papers and cash from the duo. He said the two had carried out a recce of some sites for the LeT.
Mr Maria said the painstaking investigations in the case had taken the police to places in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Daman & Diu, Tamil Nadu and Delhi.
He said Baig was named by the police in two earlier cases under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and under the Arms Act. "He s originally part of a module involved in the Aurangabad arms haul case of May 2006," he said.
"He is the present LeT chief of Maharashtra. He is the main who had merged the Aurangabad module with the Indian Mujahideen," he said.
The second person arrested, Bilal, is originally a resident of Sholapur and a failed first year student of a B.Sc. course. Mr Maria said the youth had undergone training in terrorist camps in Pakistan from January 2008 to early 2010, a period during which he had "unofficially" crossed into India thrice - twice from Bangladesh and once from Nepal.
Mr Maria said the conspiracy to carry out the blast at German Bakery, located near the Osho Ashram in Pune, was hatched in January this year. He said meetings in this regard were held at Udgir in Latur district of Maharashtra. After those, the duo carried out a recce of the place on January 31, before holding another meeting with their partnes on February 3, when the plans were finalised.
According to the ATS chief, the improvised explosive device (IED) used in the blast was put together from February 7 onwards at the Global Internet Cafe run by Baig. This task was completed on February 12 and the pair reached Pune the next afternoon.
Mr Maria said Baig was also involved in planting the bomb at the restaurant that evening. He said Baig had created a huge module in Maharashtra, the investigations so far had revealed.
At least four of those killed in the attack on the restaurant were foreigners, including a Sudanese, an Iranian, an Italian woman and a Nepalese youth who worked as a waiter in the place.
The blast occurred around 6.50 pm on February 13 when the restaurant was teeming with youngsters and foreigners. The explosion took place when a waiter noticed an unattended backpack under one of the tables and tried to open it.