Hyderabad blasts: twice lucky, now key suspect

Hyderabad, Feb. 23 -- Abdul Wasif Mirza, who was injured in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast and again in Thursday's twin blasts at Dilsukhnagar, has gone from lucky survivor to prime suspect in the past 24 hours.

A police team arrived at Yashoda super-speciality hospital in Dilsukhnagar to question him Friday evening, just hours after mediapersons and NGO representatives had left.

The suspicion is on two counts - that he happened to be in both places and survived both blasts, and that he told a TV channel he had come to Dilsukhnagar for a cup of tea when he lives in Kalapathar locality, a good 7km away.

"We can't rule out anything. He might be part of them or might have helped them," said one official.

Mirza - who hawks T-shirts by the roadside - is being treated for injuries to his back and abdomen, and doctors said he might suffer serious damage to his spinal cord. He had lost his left leg in the 2007 blast.

The police also picked up six persons for questioning - though they neither confirmed nor denied the arrests - and hope to get more leads from footage caught by the Dilsukhnagar bus junction CCTV, which had not been working for the past three months but was repaired just hours before the explosions at 7pm.

Investigators suspect the Sai Baba temple in the locality was the original target as thousands visit it on Thursdays. But heavy police presence for commissioner Anurag Sharma's visit to the shrine at 6pm for pujas may have led to a last-minute change in plans with the tiffin-box bombs being planted near the Konark and Venkatadri theatres instead.

Two more persons died of their injuries on Friday, taking the toll to 16. More than 100

people were injured and six are said to be critical.

The Sai temple had been attacked with similar tiffin bombs on November 21, 2002, resulting in two deaths.

In the city to meet the injured, union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said an all-inclusive investigation was in progress and that it was too early to blame any organisation or outfit. However, all signs point to the home-grown Indian Mujahideen.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.