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350 rounded up in Maharashtra
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, July 13
The anti-terrorism squad of the Maharashtra police has rounded up at least 350 persons in different parts of the state as pressure mounts on the government to show results.

Most of the persons held are young men picked at random from Muslim-dominated areas for questioning.

Police officials said here that most of them had been released after their identities were ascertained.

The police had been looking for persons who might have left their homes a day or so before the blasts.

The police decided to detain former activists of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India.

Several such persons had been picked from the Mumbai, Malegaon and Aurangabad areas.

On the police hit-list was Ziabuddin Ansari, said to be coordinating many terrorists of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT).

The police had been looking out for him for the past several months since a huge cache of arms and ammunition, including 43 kg of RDX, were recovered from Aurangabad.

Investigators suspected that Ansari, with the help of prominent Muslim leaders having links with Pakistanís ISI, had helped recruit operatives for the LeT.

Illegal Bangladeshi migrants living in Mumbai had also been under the police scanner.

The Maharashtra Government had set up seven teams to track down the bombing suspects.

The police had been looking out for persons who made telephone calls to Pakistan around the time of explosions.

The telephone calls were made from Matunga, Borivli and Jogeshwari railway stations to Karachi and Dubai.

Owners of STD booths were being questioned to obtain a description of those who made the phone calls.

The police had also prepared sketches of suspects, based on accounts of eyewitnesses.

Four persons had come forward to provide descriptions, but the sketches were not circulated among the media.

Earlier claims by the Mumbai police that RDX was used in the blasts were being questioned by forensic experts.

The state government had been told that gelignite sticks and timers might have been used instead of RDX. Investigators were at a disadvantage as heavy rain at the time of the blasts washed away crucial evidence.

The bogies in which the bombs were placed were ripped open by the impact and rescuers trampled all over the place.

Meanwhile, 50-year-old Hindi poet Shyam Jwalamukhi was among those killed in the blasts.

Not a frequent user of local trains, the comedy writer was travelling by the Bhayander local to his home in Meera-Bhayander in Thane district.

Meanwhile, four men in a train were caught and thrashed by fellow passengers at Bhayander for allegedly throwing leather bags into the creek running beneath the rail tracks.

Even as they were arrested, the authorities began to dredge the creek to recover the bags. The police denied rumours that some RDX was recovered from the creek bed.

 



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