After 11 hours, the Lucknow siege has finally come to an end with the suspected terrorist Saiful killed in the encounter.
The target of the operation was a house in Haji Ali Colony in Thakurganj, on the outskirts of Lucknow. Early on, the operation seemed limited in its scope, with the police using chilli bombs and stun grenades to flush out the militants.
The standoff began early Tuesday evening, hours after at least ten people were injured in a blast on the Ujjain Express. Suspected ISIS terrorist Saiful from the Lucknow siege is believed to be linked to the blast.
The operation and the blast both came a day before today's seventh phase of polling in Uttar Pradesh, but there have been no indications that the developments are linked to the five-state Assembly elections, the results for which will be announced March 11.
A TIMELINE OF EVENTS
- At around 9 am on Tuesday, March 7, a blast takes place in a compartment of the Bhopal-Ujjain Express. The explosion occurs near Jabri, 60 kilometres west of Bhopal.
- At 1.30 pm, a bus is intercepted near Pipariya in Madhya Pradesh's Hoshangabad district, 145 kilometres east of Bhopal. Three people are detained in connection with the morning's train blast.
- The three are brought to Hoshangabad city and are interrogated. One of the arrested suspects is identified as Atif Muzaafffar and Centre is alerted with the information revealed by the three during questioning.
- Early Tuesday evening, Uttar Pradesh Police carries out raids, arresting two men in Kanpur and one from Eatawah. The third raid targets the Thakuganj, Lucknow home.
- At around 4 pm, the Uttar Pradesh Police says in a since-deleted tweet that one suspected militant is involved in a standoff with the state's Anti-Terrorism Squad.
- The siege drags on and the militant is identified as Mohammed Saiful. Officials speaking to media reiterate that their efforts are to nab Saiful alive.
- A few hours into the Lucknow siege, the Madhya Pradesh Inspector General of Police confirms that the Bhopal-Ujjain train blast was an IED explosion and that it was an act of terrorism.
- Meanwhile, intermittent firing is heard through the day from the site of the Lucknow siege. The UP Additional Director General of Police reveals they have made Saiful speak to his brother in order to convince him to surrender.
- Firing intensifies towards the end of Tuesday, with officials saying at around midnight that the operation is in its final stages.
- Siege ends around 3 am on Wednesday after 11 hours. ATS IG Asim Arun confirms that Saiful has been killed.
- Investigation is going on to trace the links of terrorists after the siege in Lucknow, UP DGP Javeed Ahmed has said.
- Shivraj Singh Chouhan said, "The three accused arresteed by Madhya Pradesh ATS (Anti-Terrorism Squad) had come to Bhopal by train and executed the pipe bomb blast in Bhopal-Ujjain passenger train. All three had come from Lucknow."
Lucknow siege map.
Indian Railway map.
Cellphones and cables seized.
ISIS MODULE AT WORK?
Saiful lived at the Thakuganj home with two other youngsters. The trio moved into the home, which belongs to a Saudi Arabia-based person called Badshah, around three months ago.
They were known to keep to themselves and seldom stepped out of the house except for early morning jogs and to buy essentials.
Saiful is believed to be part of a larger ISIS-inspired module that is suspected to be behind the Tuesday morning train blast.
The module is believed to include Saiful, the two men arrested in Kanpur, the one nabbed in Eatawah and the three detained in Madhya Pradesh.
Atif Muzaafffar, one of the three men arrested in Madhya Pradesh, is believed to be the leader of the module.