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Hyderabad blasts: Andhra govt hands over case to NIA

Mar 05, 2013 10:21 AM IST India India

Hyderabad: The Indian Mujahideen is still being considered the main suspect in the Hyderabad twin blasts case. The Andhra Pradesh government has handed the case over to the National Investigation Agency. With that, the state government essentially admitted that the Andhra Pradesh police have made no breakthroughs in the investigation.

Sixteen people were dead and more than 100 were injured in the blasts on February 21. Investigations into the twin blasts in Hyderabad appear headed the way of a string of similar terror probes - a dead end. Based on similarities in the method of the blasts, investigators are still treating terror outfit Indian Mujahideen as the collective suspect. NIA sources say they have reasons to believe IM's shadowy leader Yaseen Shahbandari, better known by his suffix Bhatkal, may have personally planted the bombs.

A Ravishankar, IG of NIA in Hyderabad, said, "We can't reveal much since investigations are on. We are questioning Maqbool and Imran. We are also looking at the larger perspective in this probe. Questioning is on."

The reference is to two men, Syed Maqbool and his aide Imran Khan, both lodged in the Tihar Jail since October 2012 on charges of being Indian Mujahideen operatives who were involved in the Pune serial blasts. Maqbool had named Hyderabad's blast site Dilsukhnagar as an area he had recced before his arrest.

Sources said the NIA showed CCTV footage to Maqbool and Imran took him around Hyderabad. The CCTV footage from shops near the blast shows two people placing cycles and walking away. Maqbool and Imran were shown the footage, but lack of clarity in the visuals has yielded no strong lead.

Claims apart, sources have told CNN-IBN leads have dried up. What is certain is the cycles and explosives used for these blasts were procured locally, which has kept the police from intensively checking guest houses, hotels and questioning residents and shopkeepers. The other theory investigators are convinced of is the active involvement of Yaseen Shahbandari or Bhatkal in this blast. It's a suspect who is being treated as India's most wanted.