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Patna blasts suspect gives NIA the slip, re-arrested

Patna blast suspect Mehrar Alam, who had escaped during questioning from NIA custody on Thursday morning, has been rearrested from Kanpur. The Sunday serial blasts suspect had escaped from the custody of Bihar police and National Investigation Agency (NIA) with conflicting versions emerging on the incident.

According to Bihar police, Mehrar Alam, detained by NIA for questioning from Muzzafarpur area, was alleged to have escaped from the washroom of a guest house early morning on Thursday. However, NIA officials said that Alam was only detained for questioning and he was cooperating with the investigating agencies to unravel the mystery behind the blasts that left six dead and 82 injured.

Top NIA officials contested the claims made by Bihar police saying that the agency was yet to register a case in connection with Sunday’s blasts at a political rally of BJP’s PM candidate Narendra Modi.
They said that Alam had been detained for questioning.

However, since he did not turn up for questioning on Thursday as directed, a joint team of NIA, which is probing the Bodh Gaya blast and Bihar police, raided the lodge where he was putting up.
By then, Alam had already fled from the lodge but left his mobile phone behind, the NIA officials said, adding a diary entry had been made with the local police about his detention.

The home minister gave the NIA charge of the blasts’ probe at the behest of Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar.

Alam is a close aide of Tehsin Akhtar, a top operative of the Indian Mujahideen, who allegedly mentored the Patna bombers. Alam, who hails from Sitiyo area of Ranchi, was suspected to be one of the IM terrorists who planned and funded the attack.

NIA officials believed that Alam had crucial information about the IM’s Ranchi module, and they needed him to join the dots and build the case. The Ranchi module was an extension of the terror outfit’s Darabhanga cell which comprised Alam and fellow operatives Mukhtar Ansari and Tabish.

When queried about Alam’s escape, a NIA official said, ‘We are looking into security lapses. The priority is to find him and re-arrest him, as he is crucial to our case’.

 In a related development, another suspect has been detained in Delhi when he was on his way to the airport to see off his Pakistani wife. The suspect Mohammed Aftab is a relative of another blast suspect, Ujjair Ahmad, who was arrested in Ranchi on Wednesday.
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