How auto rickshaw blast in Mangaluru led to unraveling of terror plot in Karnataka

A day after an explosion occurred inside a moving auto rickshaw in Mangaluru, a deep probe has been ordered into the “terror act”.

Police investigate after an explosion in an auto-rickshaw in Mangaluru. (PTI photo)

By India Today Web Desk: An explosion occurred inside a moving auto rickshaw in Mangaluru on Saturday, injuring two people. While the police initially shied away from using ‘blast’ for the incident and instead used ‘fire’, a day after the explosion, the investigators are probing terror links in the case.

The Mangaluru blast led to the auto rickshaw driver and a passenger suffering serious burn injuries. When the auto rickshaw driver was questioned, he informed the police that the passenger was carrying something in his bag that caught fire and spread to the vehicle.

Further probe led the police to unravel a terror plot, with investigators recovering explosive material from the main suspect’s house, as well as several fake identity cards.

Here’s how the terror plot in Karnataka was unearthed:

BLAST IN MANGALURU

A moving auto rickshaw exploded in Mangaluru on Saturday, causing fire and heavy smoke, and the driver and a passenger were among those who sustained burn injuries.

The passenger, who was suspected to have carried a fake ID, had boarded the auto rickshaw that was coming from the Mangalore Railway Junction area at Naguri.

A cooker was recovered from the autorickshaw after the blast. The state police went on high alert following the blast, with heightened security at airports, railway stations, markets, bus stands and tourist destinations among other places.

A cooker fitted with detonator, wires and batteries found during the investigation after an explosion in an auto-rickshaw in Mangaluru. (PTI photo)

PROBE ORDERED INTO TERROR ACT

A day after the explosion in Mangaluru, Karnataka Director General of Police Praveen Sood on Sunday said the ‘mysterious blast’ was an act of terror and a “deep probe” into the incident is underway.

“It’s confirmed now. The blast is not accidental but an act of terror with intention to cause serious damage. Karnataka State Police is probing deep into it along with central agencies,” the DGP said in a tweet.

A bomb disposal squad and a dog squad were rushed to the blast site and a team of National Investigation Agency (NIA) officers were also dispatched to Mangaluru.

DETAILS ON MAIN SUSPECT

The autorickshaw passenger is the main suspect in the Mangaluru blast case. He has been identified as Mohammed Shariq. The accused has previously been booked under the UAPA and was absconding in a terror case.

Mohammed Shariq is the prime accused in the Mangaluru autorickshaw blast case. (Image: India Today)

Information so far indicates that the blast occurred while the passenger was still en route to the pre-decided location for blast.

Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said the suspect had terror links as he had traveled to various places, including Coimbatore in neighboring Tamil Nadu.

“Prima facie, this is a terror act. The places he had traveled to such as Coimbatore or any other places clearly point to his terror link,” CM Bommai said.

The Karnataka CM said the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Intelligence Bureau (IB) officials have also joined the state police in investigating the matter.

“The suspect is in the hospital. After he regains consciousness, further investigation will be taken up. Investigation will reveal more details. There is a wide network which will be busted,” he said.

Home Minister Araga Jnanendra said, “The information we received shows that there is a deep conspiracy behind the incident. It is visible that the perpetrators had a link with the terrorist organization.”

EXPLOSIVES RECOVERED FROM ACCUSED’S HOME

The Forensic Science Laboratory Division (FSL) team on Sunday reached the house rented by Shariq in Mysore as investigation into the Mangaluru blast case continued. The team recovered materials used to make explosives from Shariq’s residence.

The FSL team recovered materials used to make explosives such as gelatin powder, circuit board, small bolts, batteries, mobile, wood power, aluminum multi meters, wires, mixture jars, pressure cooker, etc.

The investigators also recovered one mobile phone, two fake Adhaar cards, one fake pan card and one FINO debit card. It is suspected that the accused was probably preparing explosive devices at his house.

LINKS TO COIMBATORE BLAST?

Meanwhile, Karnataka ADGP Alok Kumar has said that the link to the Coimbatore blast cannot be established at this point.

“There was an attempt to disrupt harmony in the area, and it was averted. Right now we have no information to suggest this blast is related to the Coimbatore blast,” he said on Sunday.

An LPG cylinder had exploded inside a Maruti 800 in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu on October 23. The explosion had occurred near the Kottai Eswaran temple, killing a 25-year-old man, identified as Jameza Mubin. The probe was later taken over by the NIA.

The suspect in the Mangaluru blast case had also visited Coimbatore among other places.

(With inputs from Sagay Raj, Apoorva Jayachandran, PTI)

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