The accused identified as Abu Bakar, Sayyed Qureshi, Mohd Shoeb Qureshi and Mohd Yusuf Ismail Shaikh alias Yusuf Bhatka, all residents of Mumbai, were caught near Ahmedabad airport, said an ATS officer.
Additional director general of police (ATS) Amit Vishwakarma said, “The four were arrested on May 12 following a tip-off. They were produced before a local court and remanded to seven days in police custody.” Sources in Gujarat ATS said the four had arrived in Ahmedabad four to five days before they were arrested. “Where they were headed from Ahmedabad is a matter of investigation,” cops said.
The four have been booked allegedly for using forged documents to obtain passports to flee the country in 1995. They have been charged under IPC Sections 466 (forgery of record), 468 (forgery for cheating) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy) besides provisions of the Passports Act.
“Once their remand gets over on May 18, they will be handed over to the CBI which has been investigating the serial blasts in which 257 people were killed and over 700 were injured,” Vishwakarma said.
Vishwakarma said it was not clear why they were visiting Gujarat. However, another ATS officer revealed that they had come to renew their passports. ATS DIG Deepan Bhadran said, “These four used to work for gold smuggler Mohammed Dossa, a henchman of fugitive gangster and the blasts’ mastermind Dawood Ibrahim, in the 1990s.”
“Following the Babri Masjid demolition, Dawood Ibrahim planned to carry out revenge attacks in India. Dossa and the four men met Dawood abroad in February 1993. On Dawood’s directions, the four went to Pakistan to get weapons training. Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI also trained them in making improvised explosive devices (IEDs),” he said.
All four were part of the conspiracy hatched by Dawood and his aides to carry out blasts in Mumbai, the DIG added. “They told us that they were awestruck when they met Dawood Ibrahim, whom they considered the ‘Bhai of Mumbai’. They said that ‘Dawood Bha’ had instructed them to do something big and they were ready to follow his orders,” said an ATS officer.
Following the Mumbai serial blasts, they obtained passports using forged documents and fled to West Asia, said.