Varanasi blast masterminds identified

Shahnawaz and Assadullah are part of the same terror cell that carried out 2008 Delhi blasts.

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: In what can be termed as the first success in the Varanasi blast case, investigators Wednesday identified the masterminds as Dr Shahnawaz and Assadullah, both believed to have had a hand in the 2008 Delhi blasts and are now holed up in Sharjah.

Sources told Zee News that Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terror Squad has detained three persons early Wednesday and is questioning them about their involvement in the blast that occurred yesterday evening at 6.30 pm when thousands of devotees and some foreign tourists had assembled at the Sheetla ghat for the Ganga arti ritual. One child died in the explosion, while 37 others were left injured.

As per the information available, Dr Shahnawaz and Assadullah are part of the same terror cell that carried out the serial blasts in Delhi on September 13, 2008, which led to the infamous Batla house encounter on October 24 of the same year.
Dr Shahnawaz is said to have worked in a nursing home in Lucknow and belongs to Sanjarpur – the same village from where most of the dead in Batla House belonged to – 20 kilometers from Azamgarh. His brother Saif is said to be in custody of Gujarat Police in connection with a blast case.

He is also said to be have played a key role in 2008 Jaipur serial blasts which left more then 60 dead.

Assadullah is the son of Dr Javed. He alongwith Dr Shahnawaz had escaped to Dubai after their name surfaced in the Delhi blast case; they are also said to be close to Indian Mujahideen founder Riyaz Bhatkal.

The banned terror outfit has in a mail sent shortly after the blast yesterday claimed responsibility for the blast and said it "attributed" the attack to the demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992.
After e-mail was traced to Mumbai, the police have quizzed a father-son duo. Details are awaited.

In Varanasi blast of 2006 and Lucknow blast of 2008 the same module was used, sources in the UP police say.

Meanwhile, Home Minister P Chidambaram today visited Varanasi to take a first hand account of the situation – Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has sought a report from the Home Ministry.

No shrapnels in Varanasi bomb?

The low-intensity bomb used in the blast here did not have shrapnels in it and all the
injured were hit by pieces of wall that broke following the explosion, police sources told a news agency said today.

They said the bomb kept near the steps leading to the Dashashwamedh Ghat was placed in such a way that the maximum impact was directed to the ground where the `arti` was being
held yesterday evening.

Though the nature of explosives is yet to be ascertained, the sources said there were no burn or shrapnel injuries.

However, some other reports have claimed that ammonium nitrate mixed with aluminum shells was used and to maximize the impact.

An Improvised Explosive Device (IED) was recovered from a metal dustbin at the site of the blast.