Millennium Post

NIA to question arrested SIMI operative over Bodh Gaya, Patna blasts

New Delhi: The National Investigaton Agency (NIA) will soon start questioning suspected SIMI operative Azharudeen, who was arrested on Friday night from Hyderabad Airport after his arrival from Saudi Arabia, sources said on Sunday.

A highly placed NIA source told IANS, "The agency will question Azharudeen aka Chemical Ali in connection with the probe into the Bodh Gaya and Patna bomb blast cases of 2013."

The source said Azharudeen is accused of giving shelter to the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) operatives involved in the bomb blasts and his call records showed that he was in constant touch with them.

In July 2013, at least 10 bombs went off in the Bodh Gaya's Mahabodhi temple complex injuring five people. An unexploded cylinder bomb was also recovered from the temple complex.

In 2018, a Special NIA court in Patna convicted five Indian Mujahideen (IM) militants in the 2013 Bodh Gaya blasts case and sentenced them to life imprisonment.

In October 2013, a series of bombs had exploded at a massive election rally of the then Gujarat chief minister and now Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Patna's Gandhi Maidan leaving six people dead and over 80 injured.

The Chhattisgarh Police arrested Azharudeen from Hyderabad's Rajiv Gandhi International Airport on Friday soon after he arrived from Saudi Arabia, where he worked as a driver.

"Azaharudeen, a native of Raipur, has been wanted since the last six years after he was named as an accused in connection with the Bihar blasts," Arif Sheikh, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Raipur told IANS over phone.

Sheikh said Azharudeen was arrested by a joint team of Chhattisgarh Police and its Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) following specific inputs that he was coming to India to meet his family that had shifted to Hyderabad.

The SSP said Azharudeen's role in the two blasts came to light after the Chhattisgarh Police busted a SIMI sleeper cell in Raipur and arrested 17 people over a period of time, including sleeper cell head Umer Siddiqui.

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