Mumbai, Sep 8 (IANS) In a major breakthrough linking the Indian Mujahideen and the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), two people have been arrested for the German Bakery bombing that killed 17 people in Maharashtra's Pune city this February, officials said Wednesday.
While one man was arrested in Nashik, the other was nabbed in Pune. Both were arrested Tuesday.
"The prime suspect, Himayat Baig, was arrested from Pune at 3.15 p.m. on Tuesday while Shaikh Lal Baba Mohammad Hussain Farid alias Bilal was nabbed from Nashik at 8.45 p.m.," said Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief Rakesh Maria.
"We would not like to disclose right now as it is a part of our investigation, but Baig and Bilal were being controlled by someone from LeT in Pakistan," Maria said.
The ATS has also seized close to two kg of RDX, LeT literature, bomb making manuals, US and Indian currencies, mobile telephones and pen drives from the two.
"Photographs of the German Bakery site were also seized from them," Maria said.
The blast, in which 17 people were killed and more than 65 injured, took place Feb 13, ripping through the German Bakery, a haunt of foreigners and the rich, in Pune's trendy Koregaon Park area.
Amongst the victims were four foreigners -- an Italian woman, an Iranian, and two Sudanese.
Baig, 29, originally from Beed town in Maharashtra, was instrumental in creating a module of the LeT in Aurangabad and later merging it with the Indian Mujahideen.
He shifted to Udgir in Latur district a year-and-half ago and owned an internet café where the plan for the Pune blast was made.
"It was priority No 1 of the ATS to detect and arrest the accused of this sensational case. After a whole lot of painstaking effort -- the case took us to Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu -- we arrested Baig and Bilal yesterday," Maria said.
He described Baig as very important to the case and the one who created the entire module.
"He was the one who planned the blasts, identified the spots, made the bombs and planted them," the ATS chief said.
Baig had come in contact with Akbar Chaudhary, a man who allegedly was a member of the Indian Mujahideen and was arrested by Mumbai Crime Branch in 2008.
After he got to know Akbar, Baig was introduced to Iqbal and Riaz, both Indian Mujahideen activists, and sent to Bhatkal, a coastal town in Karnataka, for training, Maria said.
Bilal, 27, originally from Solapur, was sent by the LeT for training in Pakistan, Maria said.
"Officially, he was in Pakistan from January 2008 to early 2010. But he has, during this period, crossed over to India thrice, twice from Bangladesh and once from Nepal," Maria added.
According to Maria, the plan for the German Bakery blast had started in January 2010.
"The conspiracy was hatched in the last week of January 2010 in Udgir. Baig came to Pune Jan 31 and conducted a recce of German Bakery and identified the spots where the bombs could be planted," Maria said.
"On Feb 3, another meeting was held at Baig's internet café in Udgir. The plans were finalised Feb 12 night. Bilal and Baig then left for Pune Feb 13 morning, reached Pune by afternoon and undertook the blasts," Maria added.
Baig, along with Bilal, Mohsin and Yasin, also had plans to target various locations in the state.
"The names of Mohsin and Yasin have cropped up during the initial questioning of Baig and Bilal. We will undertake further investigation in the case once we get their custody from the court," Maria said.
"Also, from the initial questioning, we have found that Mohsin was the one who came to Pune with the explosives," Maria added.
Bilal, on the other hand, had obtained a driving licence and a residential certificate in Nashik under fictitious names. "He had also done a recce of government buildings in Nashik and Aurangabad," Maria said.
The arrested men will be presented before a Mumbai court, Maria said.