The accused were produced before a court in Aurangabad and have been remanded to ATS custody for further investigation.
Mumbai: Following the arrest of nine suspected terrorists, including a minor, in separate raids at Mumbra and Aurangabad ahead of the Republic Day, the state Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) officials have learnt that they were likely to target events with heavy footfall by poisoning food and water supplies.
The ATS officials said that the accused were trying mix and match and conducting experiments in mini laboratories at their Mumbra and Aurangabad hideouts. The accused were produced before a court in Aurangabad and have been remanded to ATS custody for further investigation.
The mastermind is one of the accused apprehended from Aurangabad and the accused had attended meetings to plot the attack there. Among those arrested, two are engineers, one is a pharmacist and the 17-year-old suspect is a college student studying in science stream, ATS officials said.
The investigators have seized suspicious liquid in a bottle of hydrogen peroxide and unknown powder, which they were planning to mix to make the poison for adulterating with the food and water. There is still no clarity on what was their target however the ATS is verifying if it included the Republic Day events in any cities.
The arrested accused also includes son of underworld gangster Dawood Ibrahim’s henchman Abdul Rashid Hussain alias Rashid Malabari. Malabari is one of the sharp shooters of the gang and with the arrest of his son; ATS is also probing into the possible underworld link in the case.
“The cyber team of ATS picked up sensitive material based on technical intelligence. The suspects were under surveillance since past few months and we swooped on after it became clear that they were planning some action,” said an ATS officer.
The accused persons are friends of the Aurangabad based mastermind. Several meetings took place between the accused persons at Mumbra and Aurangabad to plot the attack. The officials added that they were in contact with an IS operative who is suspected to be based outside India.
At least 12 teams of the ATS were formed after the terror ring was put on surveillance and later the raids were conducted at Mumbra and Aurangabad. The officials have seized the suspicious liquid, unknown powder along with acid.
Advocate Khizar Patel on behalf of Jamiat-e-Ulema Maharashtra had opposed custody of arrested youths saying the police have claimed to recover rat poison, toilet cleaner and thinner which are found in every household.
He also questioned the ATS claim that the accused were planning to use these substance to make chemical bomb.
However, the designated UAPA court remanded all the eight accused to fourteen days police custody.