Where was Mangaluru blast suspect Shariq taking the crude bomb?

The prime suspect hailed the autorickshaw from the city outskirts to the busy Pumpwell Junction, the police said.

ByMahesh M Goudar | Shilpa Nair

Published Nov 21, 2022 | 7:27 PM Updated Nov 21, 2022 | 7:36 PM

The investigation team has recovered electronic gadgets from Shariq's rented house in Mysuru. (Pic/Supplied)

The Karnataka police have formed two teams to probe the Mangaluru autorickshaw blast which left two persons, including prime suspect Mohammad Shariq, injured.

Investigators are trying to find where Shariq was planning to plant the crude bomb. The police suspected it went off accidentally near a bus stop at Garody on Saturday, 19 November.

The police have found that Shariq hailed the autorickshaw from Mangaluru city outskirts to Pumpwell Junction.

“Shariq took an auto to Pumpwell, 8.6 km from the city outskirts. The blast occurred when the autorickshaw was near a bus stop in Garody. The autorickshaw driver Purushottama, 60, and Shariq, 24, suffered severe injuries,” the police said in a statement released to the media.

Pumpwell Junction, a major transport hub, is one of the busiest junctions in Mangaluru. State and national highways converge at the junction. Karnataka Bank Limited, an old-generation private-sector financial institution, is headquartered at Pumpwell. National Highway-75 connecting Mangaluru with Bengaluru originates at the junction. Additionally, roads from Udupi and Kerala, too, join the intersection.

Prime suspect Mohammad Shariq in hospital (Supplied).

Prime suspect Mohammad Shariq in hospital (Supplied).

“The reason why the suspect was travelling to Pumpwell is to be ascertained. If the blast had happened there it would have created huge chaos in the coastal area. Mangaluru is a sensitive area,” Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Alok Kumar said.

Shariq, who has a history of anti-national activities, had taken a bus to Mangaluru city outskirts from Mysuru via Hunsur, Madikeri, Puttur, and BC Road on Saturday.

“Shariq is not responding to questions. He is recovering. His survival is vital for the department for further investigation. We are providing him with the best medical treatment. Once he recovers, we will find more details,” the officer further said.

Family identifies Shariq

Shariq’s family members, stepmother Shabana, sister Afia, and a relative Yasmin, identified him at the Father Muller Medical College Hospital on Monday, 21 November. The women came from Thirthahalli in Shivamogga, some 220 km from Mangaluru.

“The suspect and the autorickshaw driver have suffered severe burns. It was tough to establish the identity of the suspect. We convinced his relatives to help the police identify him,” ADGP Kumar said.

The police have categorically ruled out the injured autorickshaw driver Purushottama’s role in the blast. “We have contacted his family. He is being provided with the best treatment. He is entitled to compensation from the government. We will write to the government requesting compensation. He has no role in this case,” the officer added.

Also read: Shariq’s international links under probe

Searches in three districts

The ADGP said Shariq had travelled to Coimbatore, Kerala, Mysuru and Mangaluru earlier. “He used a fake Aadhaar card for staying at a dormitory in Coimbatore. He was in Mangaluru a week before the blast,” he said.

Mohammad Shariq, the prime suspect in the Mangaluru blast case (Screen grab).

Mohammad Shariq (Screengrab).

The NIA and state police have intensified the investigation to find out Shariq’s financial sources and travel history. The investigation team has picked up two persons from Mysuru and one from Mangaluru City for questioning.

The investigators have searched seven places in Mangaluru, Mysuru and Shivamogga districts. The police found batteries, mobile panels and pressure cookers during the checks. “We are also coordinating with police departments in other states to find more about Shariq,” Kumar said.

The police team that searched Shariq’s rented accommodation in Mysuru found batteries, a mechanical timer, circuits, a multi-functional delay timer, a grinder, a mixer, matchboxes, aluminium foils and other materials. He had been living in the house at Loknayak Nagar in Metagalli for the past 40 days.

Kumar said that they are also looking for Arafat Ali, who was earlier charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, or UAPA, in Mangaluru. “As per the information, he is currently in Dubai. The police are looking for him and Shariq’s other associates,” the ADGP added.

The Tamil Nadu police, meanwhile, said Shariq had stayed in Coimbatore for a few days in September. “We are trying to ascertain why he had come to Coimbatore, where did he go, and who he met during his stay in the city. We have launched a probe,” the police said.

Also read: How did Mubin, who died in the Coimbatore blast, appear on the NIA radar?

TN BJP chief lashes out at DMK government 

Tamil Nadu BJP president K Annaimalai, meanwhile, accused the state government of continuing in a state of denial. In a series of tweets, he said the state intelligence “is in deep hibernation” and that Tamil Nadu has become a haven for terrorists.

He made the charges after the police revealed that Shariq had stayed in Coimbatore in September.

The IPS officer-turned-politician also expressed doubts over Shariq’s connection with terror modules operating in Tamil Nadu “with impunity”.