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Night before Bhopal-Ujjain train blast, planned to bomb Pushpak Express: Accused tell NIA

Two of the three men accused in the Bhopal-Ujjain passenger train blast on 7 March have told their National Investigation Agency (NIA) interrogators that their group had originally planned to target the Lucknow-Bhopal Pushpak Express, the train they had travelled on the night before the Bhopal blast, a report in The Indian Express said.

According to the report, Atif Muzaffar and Syed Mir Husain told the NIA that they had travelled on the Pushpak express on 6 March, carrying a bag of explosives. They said that they had plans to plant the explosives but failed to do so because of the "heavy rush" and "alert passengers."

According to official sources quoted in the report, Muzaffar had bought three tickets for the Pushpak Express but they could not manage to plant the bomb. The next morning, they disembarked at the Bhopal railway station, where they decided on the last-minute to plant the bomb on the Bhopal-Ujjain train.

"After their failure to plant the bomb on the Pushpak Express, they got desperate. They managed to get into the last coach of the Bhopal-Ujjain train that was about to leave the station, left the bag filled with explosives and got off," the report quoted a source as saying.

 Night before Bhopal-Ujjain train blast, planned to bomb Pushpak Express: Accused tell NIA

People attend to the injured after the Bhopal-Ujjain train blast. PTI

On Monday, another Indian Express report had revealed that one of the three accused, Syed Mir Hussain, had revealed to the NIA that the group had earlier planned strategic attacks in several locations across Uttar Pradesh – a dargah in Barabanki, the Bara Imambara in Lucknow and a leading Shia cleric.

The group had plans to attack the Waris Ali Shah dargah in Barabanki. He told NIA interrogators that the group had scoped out the location – studying security arrangements, movement of pilgrims – and that they dropped the idea as it was heavily guarded.

The group had also targeted the Bara Imambara in Lucknow and Shia cleric Maulana Salman Hussaini Nadvi. They had closely surveyed the cleric’s house and had kept tabs on his movements and vehicles, the report said.

The group had surveyed several locations in and around Lucknow to “fix the targets, to implement the sharia law, to have a jihad and to have bomb blasts and commit murder at fixed places.”

Husain along with the other two, Mohammed Danish and Atif Muzaffar, were arrested Pipariya, Hoshangabad in Madhya Pradesh. Their fourth accomplice, Saifullah, was killed in a gunfight by the UP anti-terror squad in Lucknow.

At least 10 people were injured, three of them seriously, in the non-lethal blast on the Bhopal-Ujjain passenger train.

A NIA team had gone to Bhopal to look into the train blast site near Jabri railway station under Shajapur district, about 60 km from Bhopal.

The agency had taken over the custody of three people arrested in connection with the IED blast after a Bhopal special court order. The court had allowed their custodial interrogation by NIA during a remand period of 11 days.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Mar 28, 2017 16:26:59 IST