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Attack linked to Batla House encounter?

Devesh K. Pandey

A threat purporting to be from Indian Mujahideen vows to avenge 2008 killing of 2 militants


It appears to be the work of some local criminals or disgruntled people, say the police

E-mail said to have been sent by Indian Mujahideen does not directly own up the attack


PHOTO: V.V. KRISHNAN

MIRACULOUS ESCAPE, ANOTHER SCARE: The tourist bus, targeted by motorcycle-borne gunmen in New Delhi on Sunday, at the Lok Nayak Jaya Prakash hospital. The injured Taiwanese were rushed to hospital in it.

NEW DELHI: The mysterious attack on foreign tourists outside the historic Jama Masjid in the Walled City of Delhi on Sunday comes on the second anniversary of the Batla House encounter in which a Delhi Police officer and two suspected Indian Mujahideen militants were killed on September 19, 2008.

The correlation between the two incidents is also being drawn in the wake of a purported Indian Mujahideen threat issued over two hours after the shooting near Gate No. 3 of Jama Masjid.

Describing the slain suspected terrorists as martyrs, the threat e-mail sent to media organisations vowed to avenge their killings.

AFP

Home Minister P. Chidambaram arrives at the hospital to check on the wounded tourists.

However, the police are so far not viewing the attack as the handiwork of any organised gang or group. “It appears to be the work of some local criminals or disgruntled people. The sequence of events also does not suggest involvement of any organised group,” said Delhi Police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat.

“The e-mail said to have been sent by the Indian Mujahideen does not directly own up the attack on foreign nationals. Also, it was sent a couple of hours after the incident and therefore it appears to be an afterthought. In previous cases, the outfit had sent e-mails prior to the attacks,” said another police officer, conceding that the incident had nonetheless taken place on the anniversary of the encounter.

The police said the low intensity crude explosion in a Maruti 800 car parked near the Jama Masjid police station over two hours after the shooting also appeared to be an act of mischief.

“Some parts of a pressure cooker, its upper lid and two watches were found in the car. Preliminary investigations have suggested that it was a poorly circuited crude device. It was a naïve attempt at configuring an improvised explosive device,” said another officer.

The car that went up in flames after a low intensity blast belonged to one Bobby. He purportedly told the police that he used to park the vehicle near the Cycle Market in Chandni Chowk. Curious about the attack on foreign nationals, he went to the Jama Masjid area when he spotted his car parked near the police station. As he peeped in, he allegedly saw a pressure cooker with some wires jutting out on the rear seat.

Suspecting that something was amiss, he alerted the police. However, the car was gutted in the fire before the bomb detection squad reached the spot.

14 members still at large

While investigations are under way to identify those involved, it is learnt that at least 14 suspected members of the IM network busted by the Special Cell in 2008 are still at large. “Only 16 of them have been arrested so far,” said the officer.

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