Bengaluru cafe blast | Suspect may have fled abroad via Kerala: Police
Police sources said the accused may have changed his getup and hairstyle to escape unnoticed. File photo

Bengaluru cafe blast | Suspect may have fled abroad via Kerala: Police

Police sources say the accused, who meticulously planned the attack on Rameshwaram Cafe and left few clues for investigators, may have left the country

It has been almost a week since a low-intensity blast at Bengaluru’s famous Rameshwaram Café left 10 people injured and the city rattled. Yet, the prime accused, a man caught on CCTV cameras, remains elusive despite attempts by investigators to trace him. Now, it's learnt that the suspected may have left the country.

A highly placed source in the state police department told The Federal that the accused, who has already outsmarted investigating agencies by not leaving enough footprints to catch him, might have crossed over to Kerala from Karnataka and left the country from there. The fact that the accused is now out of their reach prompted the National Investigating Agency (NIA) to announce a reward of ₹10 lakh to whoever provides information on his whereabouts, the source said.

On March 1, 10 people were injured in an explosion at Rameshwaram Cafe in Brookfield in East Bengaluru. The explosive was identified as an Improvised Explosive Device (IED), and Karnataka Police filed a case under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and Explosive Substances Act. The NIA is currently probing the case.

Accused left few clues

Sources in the police say the accused has been meticulous in his planning and has left few clues for probe agencies to get to him. The only evidence that investigating agencies have of him is his CCTV footage inside the café. In the said footage, the accused is seen entering the cafe, spending around 10 minutes eating ‘rava idli’, strategically placing a handbag containing the IED near the wash basin, and quietly leaving the place.

The IED exploded an hour later. It took around two more hours for the police and other investigating agencies to reach the spot and confirm it was a bomb blast. This three-hour window gave the accused enough time to escape, said the officer who wanted to remain anonymous.

Used multiple buses, may have fled to Kerala: Source

CCTV clips of the accused that the investigating agencies have gathered from other places reveal that he used multiple buses to arrive and leave the place.

While these footages confirmed that the accused travelled from Bengaluru to Bellary (Mantralaya) in buses, he did not leave any trace from there. Bus drivers and conductors of various routes have given conflicting inputs: some say a person resembling the accused travelled in their buses towards Bhatkal in Uttara Kannada while others say a person looking like him travelled to Humnabad in Bidar district.

Investigators are trying to piece the information together and get more CCTV footage from other locations to narrow down on the accused’s destination.

Sources said it is difficult to trace the accused as he may have travelled towards Bhatkal, a coastal town, from where he would have reached Kerala via National Highway 66. From there, he must have fled. If the accused went to Humnabad, he could have gone to Hyderabad, which is closer, and from there travelled to Kerala through train or bus, the source added.

According to another official, the possibility of fleeing the country is also possible. “We are trying to locate his movement by gathering information from all international airports and immigration centers, Interpol nodal agencies etc. Even the immigration wings of neighbouring countries have been alerted by the Ministry of Home Affairs," the official added. "Normally such accused go underground in many cases and this is also possible," he added.

‘Accused trained, confident’

The official said that the accused looks 'trained,' and his confidence that no one would suspect him is visible in the CCTV footage. He also changed his outfit after planting the bomb in the cafe, and might have used other techniques such as changing hairstyle etc to escape without being suspected.

“He was even contacting someone from his mobile phone while he was leaving the hotel, and we have traced hundreds of phone numbers used from that location. But zeroing in takes time," the official added.

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