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July 11 blasts: Mumbai doctor arrested

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Last updated on: July 24, 2006 17:29 IST

The Anti-Terrorist Squad of the Maharashtra police arrested a doctor on Sunday night in connection with the July 11 serial train blasts even as the ATS-Crime Branch joint teams detained 20 more persons on suspicion of their involvement in the blasts. 

Ansari was on Monday remanded to police custody till August 4 by a local court. With the arrest of Ansari, the police has claimed to have busted an important sleeper module of the LeT in the city.

Ansari, a Unani medicine practitioner at a local hospital in Central Mumbai, had allegedly undergone training in weapons handling and explosives at the LeT camps at Bahawalpur in Pakistan and Muzaffarabad in Pak-occupied Kashmir in 2004, police said.

"Thirty three-year-old Ansari is an ideologue and motivator for LeT members in Mumbai and adjoining areas," a senior official of the Anti Terrorist Squad told PTI in Mumbai on Monday.

Since his return to Mumbai from Pakistan in early 2005, Ansari has been dormant and resumed his job as a resident medical officer at Sabu Siddiqui Hospital in central Mumbai, the officer said.

But in the past few months, a top LeT leader had been pursuing Ansari to 'do something' in Mumbai, the official said, quoting intelligence inputs. He will now be interrogated to find out his role in the serial blasts, the officer said.

A graduate from Nagpur, Ansari visited Tehran in 2004 on the pretext of some personal work. From Tehran he allegedly moved to Bahawalpur in Pakistan by road and attended a LeT camp in operating AK-47 rifles, stengun, grenade launchers and even stinger missiles, sources said.

ATS sources said Ansari was an example of how LeT sleeper cells exist in Mumbai and other parts of the country, who are equipped to execute terror acts while they get the right opportunity.

Police said that information about Ansari came out during the search for a Kashmir-based LeT operative, who had allegedly visited Mumbai some days before the serial train blasts. Ansari was detained last week by Mumbai crime branch and interrogated for five days, before he was handed over to ATS on Sunday night and placed under arrest.

"He is inspired by Jehad, and evidence shows that he was in constant touch with a senior LeT leader abroad. This leader was continuously prodding Ansari to do something in Mumbai," sources said, adding that they had vital information about more members of the LeT sleeper cells in Mumbai and nearby areas and some of them are likely to be arrested soon.

Sources said that four more persons -- Faizal, Muzzamil, Firoz Bangali and Sohail -- were also being interrogated. Of them, Muzzamil is a software engineer, they added. It is suspected that apart from Ansari, Faizal and Muzzamil too have undergone the LeT training.

The two were held by central intelligence agencies who were keeping a watch on them since the blasts took place, the sources said, adding that the two were detained on the suspicion that they either funded the blasts or may have arranged finances for the blasts through local LeT operatives.

Nearly 200 persons were killed and nearly 700 injured in seven serial blasts that took place aboard suburban trains on western railway on July 11. Deadly explosive RDX, Ammonium Nitrate and fuel oil was believed to have used in the explosives that were detonated by a timed device, forensic reports have said.

ATS has maintained that the explosions were the handiwork of an international terrorist organization, most probably the Lashkar-e-Tayiba, to strike at the financial capital of the country.

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