Coimbatore: Link between car cylinder explosion, 1998 serial blasts, Lanka Easter bombings
The probe into the recent cylinder blast in a car in Coimbatore has revealed a link with the serial blasts that happened in the Tamil Nadu city 24 years ago and the 2019 Easter bombings in Sri Lanka.
In 1998, 58 people had died in serial blasts in Coimbatore and more than 200 were injured. The explosions had targeted then national president of the BJP LK Advani in the aftermath of the Babri Masjid demolition.
In Sri Lanka, more than 250 people were killed in the Easter bombings in 2019.
On 23 October, 75-kg of explosives, including potassium nitrate were seized from the residence of 29-year-old Jameesha Mubeen who was killed after a gas cylinder exploded in a car he was travelling in Coimbatore. Mubeen is suspected to have played a key role in a conspiracy bid to carry out sabotage activities.
Investigation by the special team in Coimbatore said Mubeen was not a suicide bomber, and he did not know how to handle explosives. “He was not keeping well. In fact, he had suicidal thoughts. But he probably never planned to kill himself in a blast,” a police officer, who is part of the investigation, told The Federal.
People who knew Mubeen said that he did not have many friends and mostly kept aloof. Until 2019, he was working at a book shop and later, he was asked to leave after the NIA raided his house at GM Nagar in Ukkadam.
Later, he started to make a living by selling old clothes. “He used to get old shirts for ₹5-10, and have them dry-cleaned, which would cost ₹10-15. Then, he would pack them and sell them on the platforms and in markets for a cheaper price. That is how he was making a living for all these years,” said a relative of Mubeen.
According to police, Mubeen and others had planned terror attacks in Coimbatore in at least five places.
“He had collected chemicals used in country-made bombs. Mubeen, along with a few others, was seen shifting things from his house. So, it was understood that they had planned the attack, but the target was different,” a senior police official, who is part of the investigation, told The Federal.
“During the search, we recovered a piece of paper in which Mubin had written down the names of five places. These might have been his targets. These five places were the police commissioner’s office, the collector’s office, the railway station, the race course, and Victoria town hall,” the official said.
According to the Tamil Nadu Police, one of the six accused in the explosion case, confessed during interrogation that he met two men in a Kerala prison who had links with an ISIS group involved in the Easter bombings in Sri Lanka.
Feroze Ismail confessed that he had met Mohammed Azharuddin and Rashid Ali, lodged in a prison in the neighbouring state and further questioning is on to ascertain the motive behind the meeting, they said. Azharuddin and Ali are in jail in connection with a case against them in the neighbouring state.
Five accused were taken to their houses and searches were carried out, police said.
Police have arrested five people who had been in contact with Mubeen, and charged them under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Mubeen was under the NIA radar in 2019 in the aftermath of the Easter bomb blasts in Sri Lanka, but no case was filed against him, police said.
A link between the 1998 serial blasts and the recent cylinder explosion has emerged with the terror organisation Al-Ummah.
One of the six arrested now – Mohammed Thalka or Dalqa, is the son of Al-Ummah chief Syed Ahmed Basha’s brother, Nawab Khan, who is in prison now serving a life term and 27 years of rigorous imprisonment in connection with the 1998 serial blasts.
On Friday, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) registered a case to probe the cylinder blast.
(With agency inputs)