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

A day after an explosion occurred in a moving auto rickshaw in Mangaluru, an in-depth investigation into the “act of terror” has been ordered.

Police are investigating an explosion at an auto rickshaw in Mangaluru.

Police are investigating an explosion at an auto rickshaw in Mangaluru. (PTI photo)

By India Today Web Desk: An explosion occurred in a moving auto rickshaw in Mangaluru on Saturday, injuring two people. While police initially balked at using “blast” for the incident and used “fire” instead, investigators are investigating terror links in the case a day after the explosion.

The Mangaluru Blast resulted in the auto rickshaw driver and a passenger suffering severe burns. When questioned, the auto rickshaw driver informed police that the passenger was carrying something in his bag which caught fire and spread to the vehicle.

Further investigation led police to unravel a terror plot, with investigators recovering explosive material from the prime suspect’s home, as well as several fake IDs.

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

BLAST IN MANGALURU

A moving auto rickshaw exploded in Mangaluru on Saturday, sparking a fire and heavy smoke, and the driver and a passenger were among those who suffered burns.

The passenger, who was suspected to be carrying a false ID, had boarded the auto rickshaw coming from the Mangalore Railway Junction area in Naguri.

A cooker was found of the auto rickshaw after the explosion. State police were on high alert after the blast, with heightened security at airports, train stations, markets, bus stops and tourist destinations, among others.

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

PROBE AUTHORIZED TO TERROR ACT

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

“It is now confirmed. The blast is not an accident but an act of terrorism with the intent to cause serious damage. The Karnataka State Police is deeply investigating it along with central agencies,” the DGP said in a tweet.

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

DETAILS ABOUT PRIME SUSPECTS

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

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

Information to date indicates that the detonation occurred while the passenger was still en route to the predetermined location for the detonation.

Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai said the suspect had terror links as he had traveled to several places, including Coimbatore in neighboring Tamil Nadu.

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

The Karnataka CM said that officials from the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Intelligence Bureau (IB) have also joined the state police to investigate the matter.

“The suspect is in hospital. After he regains consciousness, further investigations will be launched. Investigations will reveal more details. There is a wide network that will be arrested,” he said.

Home Minister Araga Jnanendra said: “From the information we have received it appears that there is a deep conspiracy behind the incident. It is visible that the perpetrators had a connection with the terrorist organization.”

EXPLOSIVES RECOVERED FROM THE SUSPECTS’ HOME

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

The FSL team recovered materials used to make explosives such as gelatin powder, circuit boards, small bolts, batteries, cellphone, wood power, aluminum multimeters, wires, mixture pots, pressure cooker, etc.

The investigators also found a mobile phone, two fake Adhaar cards, a fake pan card and a FINO debit card. It is suspected that the suspect was probably preparing explosives in his house.

LINKS TO COIMBATORE BLAST?

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

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

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

The suspect in the explosion case in Mangaluru had also visited Coimbatore.

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

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