Friday, January 25, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

CM rules out FBI probe into blast
Extradition of prime suspect to be sought
Subhrangshu Gupta

Kolkata, January 24
West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today ruled out an FBI investigation into Tuesday’s attack on the American Centre in which four policemen were killed and 20 injured.

“We have not called the FBI and any question of calling them for investigation does not arise at all,” Mr Bhattacharjee told reporters here.

He said it was for the Central Government to decide whether to allow investigation by the American intelligence agency or not, emphasising that the state government had nothing to do with it.

“Calling the FBI or any foreign intelligence agency for investigation of any incident with in the country will amount to the betrayal of the country’s constitution,” the Chief Minister said.

Mr Bhattacharjee said the state police was competent enough to investigate the American Centre attack and had already constituted an investigating team comprising personnel from the Criminal Investigation Department, the Intelligence Branch, the Detective Department and the Special Branch.

Meanwhile, police sleuths probing the January 22, terrorists attack failed to resolve the mystery why the Dubai-based mafia don, Farzan Malik, alias Aftar Ansari, alias Abu Arsalam, would target the American Center here if it was an attempt to revenge the killing of their leader, Asif Reza Khan, alias Rajan, in the police custody at Rajkot, Gujarat last November.

Though so far the inquiry has been mainly aimed at ascertaining Farzan’s involvement in the attack since he himself had claimed his responsibility, the police on Thursday did not rule out the possibility of the involvement of some other terrorist gang, acting on behalf of Al-Qaida and Lashkar-e-Toiba.

Incidentally, FBI officials had flown into the city to help the state in investigating the case after their chief, Mr Robert S. Muller’s meeting with the Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, and other senior officials in New Delhi. Two FBI officials were also at Writers Buildings yesterday and met the Chief Secretary, the Home Secretary and senior police officials and discussed about their joint involvement in inquiring the incident.

Kashmir’s Harkat-ul-Jehad-e group which had been also a suspect today denied its involvement in the attack.On the third day today, a special inquiry committee headed jointly by the IG(CID), Mr Partha Bhattacharyya and the Deputy Commissioner of the Police (Detective Department), Mr Somen Mitra, was set up to ensure speedy investigation.

A martyr’s column was erected today in front of the American Center where the people from various walks of lives placed wreaths in memory of those killed on the terrorists attack. The US Consul General, Mr Christopher Sandrolini, and other staff members of the consulate were also there to pay floral tributes to the policemen killed.

It was also established that the motor cycle which the police seized yesterday from the wayside near the Bangladesh border, had not been used in the operation.

NEW DELHI: India will seek the extradition of Dubai-based underworld don Aftab Ansari who claimed the responsibility for Tuesday’s attack on the American Centre once security agencies completed the investigation, Minister of State for External Affairs Omar Abdullah said here today.

“The government will request the UAE authorities to extradite Ansari since India has an extradition treaty with them,” Mr Abdullah told PTI.

He said that a Home Ministry team from here was already in Kolkata to gather evidence against Ansari to make a “water-tight case” against the fugitive who hails from Varanasi.

Aftab Ansari, alias Aftab Ahmed, alias Farhan Malik was based in Dubai. An FIR number 73/99 under Section 365 (kidnapping) of Indian Penal Code has been registered against Ansari by the Varanasi police.

Ansari was cultivated by Pakistan’s ISI in early 2000 for supporting covert operations in India and introduced to Omar Sheikh, a Huji leader. He indulged in kidnapping of Kolkata’s shoe baron Partha Paritam Roy Barman who was released after receiving a ransom of Rs 37.5 million in Dubai through hawala channel.Back


Trail leads to Bihar
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 24
The January 22 Kolkata incident trail is leading to Bihar where the four perpetrators are suspected to be hiding and from where the passport of the mastermind Farhan Malik alias Aftab Ansari was issued.

Farhan Malik’s passport was issued in 1999 from Bihar. At present he holds a Pakistani passport and is based at Dubai. According to well-placed sources here, Pakistan’s secret agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), has set up a full-fledged terrorist module in Bihar, presumably through the help of Farhan Malik.

These are understood to be the highlights of a classified report of Mr Ashok Bhandari, Special Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, who submitted it to Union Home Minister L K Advani today on his return from Kolkata after an on-the-spot assessment of the attack outside American Center.

The report also touches upon various issues pertaining to terrorist camps in neighbouring countries bordering West Bengal and also modernisation of police in the state, besides the status of the investigation being carried out by the special investigation team of the West Bengal police.

A massive search operation is on in Bihar, particularly the districts bordering Nepal, following credible information that the four youths, who committed the Kolkata carnage are believed to be hiding there.

According to well-placed sources, the four suspects could be in Purnia District from where they may sneak into Nepal. The closed-circuit TV cameras installed at the American Center in Kolkata have captured close range shots of the four terrorists while they fired more than 60 rounds from their automatic weapons.

Meanwhile, Union Home Secretary Kamal Pande today spoke to West Bengal Chief Secretary and enquired about the progress made in the investigations. It is believed that a breakthrough is likely to be made “very soon”.

Two officers of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the United States have reached Kolkata and are monitoring the investigations. The FBI sleuths had reached Kolkata the same day when Mr Bhandari had landed there.Back


Spate of bomb threats in Kolkata

Kolkata, January 24
A spate of bomb threats today caused panic in the city and kept the police on tenterhooks, barely two days after the terrorist attack at the American Center.

Bomb disposal squad personnel of the police rushed to Hong Kong Building at B B D Bag, the commercial hub of the city, after an anonymous caller threatened that a bomb placed in the precincts was likely to go off in the afternoon.

The four-storey building was immediately evacuated but nothing was found after an hour’s search, the police said.

The call was received by a senior manager of the UCO Bank, housed in the same building.

The bank’s Deputy General Manager C R Ghosh, who received the call at 11:42 am, said the caller spoke in stilted Bengali. “He feigned as if he was an old man but I am sure he was not”.

“I repeatedly asked for his identity but he refused to give it,” Mr Ghosh said.

Bomb threat calls were also received from the CTC depot in the Dharamtalla area and the showroom of a shoe company at Rabindra Sarani.

The police said it also received calls that a transistor bomb wrapped in a polythene bag had been kept at the tram depot. PTIBack

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