NIA arrests fifth accused in Rameshwaram Cafe blast case | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

NIA arrests fifth accused in Rameshwaram Cafe blast case

ByNeeraj Chauhan
May 24, 2024 08:06 PM IST

According to the NIA, the arrested accused was earlier convicted in a Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terror conspiracy case of 2012

New Delhi: The National Investigation Agency (NIA), probing the Rameshwaram Cafe blast, on Friday, arrested a suspect who was earlier convicted in a Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terror conspiracy case of 2012, officials aware of the matter.

Ten people were injured in the blast at Bengaluru’s Rameshwaram Cafe which took place on March 1 (PTI Photo)
Ten people were injured in the blast at Bengaluru’s Rameshwaram Cafe which took place on March 1 (PTI Photo)

An IED explosion rocked the Rameshwaram cafe located on ITPL Road, Brookefield, Bengaluru, on March 1, injuring at least 10 people. 

According to officials, one Shoaib Ahmed Mirza alias Chhotu, 35, a resident of Hubballi City in Karnataka, was taken into custody under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for assisting the mastermind of the Rameshwaram Cafe blast. 

He is the fifth accused to be arrested in the case after Abdul Matheen Taha (the main planner), Mussavir Hussain Shazib, the bomber, Muzammil Shareef, who provided logistics like SIM, cellphones etc, and Maaz Muneer Ahmed. Taha, Shazib, Shareef and Ahmed are associated with ISIS “Thirthahalli module”, named after the town in Shivamogga from where they operated. 

Mirza and 10 other members of a Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) conspiracy case were raided by the federal anti-terror probe agency on Tuesday to get clues on the Rameshwaram Cafe blast following which Mirza and other members of the LeT conspiracy case were detained and called for questioning over the last three days. 

“Three days after a massive crackdown across four states in the Rameshwaram Café blast case, the NIA on Friday arrested one more accused, identified as an ex-convict in a LeT terror conspiracy case. Shoaib Ahmed Mirza is the fifth accused to be arrested in the case,” an agency spokesperson said in a statement on Friday.

The spokesperson said Mirza “had got involved in this fresh conspiracy after being released from jail”. 

“In 2018, he befriended and introduced accused Taha to an online handler suspected to be abroad. Mirza had further provided an e-mail ID for encrypted communication between the handler and Taha, who was arrested earlier on April 12 from his hideout in Kolkata (West Bengal) along with co-accused Shazib”, the spokesperson added. 

The LeT terror conspiracy case of 2012 pertains to information received by the City Crime Branch, Bengaluru, that members of LeT and Harkat-ul-Jehad-E-Islami (HuJI) have hatched a conspiracy to indulge in subversive activities like target killings of important personalities of the Hindu community in Bengaluru and Hubballi and thereby disturb the communal harmony. Surveillance was arranged over the activities of the suspected members. The Bengaluru police filed a case in the matter in August 2012 and it was taken over by the NIA in November of the same year. 

Also Read: NIA arrests Andhra techie in Rameshwaram cafe blast case

Mirza was arrested by police on August 29, 2012. 

Other members in the LeT conspiracy case were identified as Abdul Hakeem, Riyaz Ahmed, Mohammad Akram, Ubeullah Bahadur, Waheed Hussain, Dr Zafar Iqbal Sholapur, Mohammad Sadiq Lashkar, Mehboob Bagalkote, Zakir, Obaid-Ur-Rehman, Nayueem Siddique, Dr Imran Ahmed and Syed Tanzeem Ahmed. 

It was revealed that Abdul Hakeem and Zafar Iqbal had visited Pakistan via Iran in 2011-12. At the instance of Farhathullah Ghouri, wanted in the Akshardham Temple attack of Gujarat, they were taken to Karachi, where they met senior ISI officers like Hamad, Mustafa, and Abdul Waheed besides LeT operatives, according to a charge sheet filed by NIA in the case May 2013. 

“These ISI officials motivated them to collect intelligence and carry out espionage activities in India. Accordingly, they received training in the collection of intelligence, cybercrime and handling of weapons and firing”, the charge sheet, seen by HT, states. 

On Mirza’s role, the NIA charge sheet stated that he was active in selecting targets to be eliminated in Hubbali and Bengaluru, including Hindu leaders, journalists and police officers. 

In September 2016, a court convicted Mirza and 12 others in the case. He was released on bail in 2018 and later helped Taha, said an official who didn’t want to be named. 

As claimed by the NIA on Friday, it was Mirza who introduced Taha to his online handler. The handler is suspected of using the codename ‘Colonel’ who operates from somewhere in the Middle East and has linked with ISI, as reported by HT exclusively on April 21. 

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