Two Islamic Militants Arrested For India Court Blasts: Police
22 December 2007
Lucknow: Police announced the arrest of two suspected hardline Islamic leaders Saturday in connection with serial blasts outside courts in three northern Indian cities that left 13 people dead. Officers from Uttar Pradesh state and national security officials described the two Muslims as top state leaders for the banned Bangladesh-based militant group Harkatul Jihad al-Islami (HuJI). 'These are the people who directly conducted all the operations. These were planned in June this year,' senior state police official Brij Lal told reporters in the state capital Lucknow. 'On November 17 all these people met in Lucknow to give a final shape to the operation.' Another suspect in the November 23 bombings had been picked up in Kashmir, where a separatist movement against India has raged for almost two decades, the Uttar Pradesh police said. Srinagar police said they were working with their Lucknow counterparts to round up suspects but did not confirm any arrests. One of the men arrested in Uttar Pradesh on Saturday, Mohammed Tariq, was the state head of HuJI, police said. 'All blasts in the state take place after his approval,' said Lal. Police said investigation by the state anti-terror force led them to the suspects, adding that they confessed under interrogation. The two men were also carrying explosives and detonators at the time of their arrest early Saturday at a railway station some 30 kilometres (19 miles) from Lucknow, police said. The explosions outside local courts in Lucknow, the holy city of Varanasi and in Faizabad, were aimed at lawyers, police believe. Some 40 people were also wounded in the blasts. A threatening email sent to television channels just minutes before the blasts accused lawyers in the state of beating up people falsely accused by the police of terrorism and of refusing to defend them. The lawyers had repeatedly refused to defend Islamic militants facing charges of orchestrating terror attacks. Analysts say Islamic extremist groups could also be attempting to stoke religious tensions to derail an India-Pakistan peace process over the disputed region of Kashmir which both nations occupy in part but claim in full.