Updated April 12th, 2024 at 21:19 IST

How 42-Day Manhunt Led to Arrest of Bengaluru Cafe Blast Masterminds From 'Safe Haven' Bengal

NIA was successful in tracing the absconding accused near Kolkata where they were hiding under false identities

Reported by: Digital Desk
How 42-Day Manhunt Led to Arrest of B'luru Cafe Blast Masterminds From Bengal | Image:PTI
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New Delhi: In a big breakthrough, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has arrested two key suspects in the Rameshwaram Cafe blast case, which rocked Bengaluru on March 1. Mussavir Hussain Shazib and Abdul Matheen Taahaa, identified as the masterminds behind the attack, were arrested from their hideout near Kolkata in West Bengal's Digha area. While Shazib is alleged to have placed the Improvised Explosive Device (IED) at the cafe, Taahaa is believed to have orchestrated the entire planning and execution of the blast.

"In the morning hours of April 12, 2024, NIA was successful in tracing the absconding accused near Kolkata where they were hiding under false identities. This pursuit was supported by coordinated action and cooperation among the NIA, central intelligence agencies and the state police agencies of West Bengal, Telangana, Karnataka and Kerala", the official added.

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How 42-Day Manhunt Led to Capture of Bengaluru Cafe Blast Masterminds

The NIA tracked the pattern of Shazib and Taahaa for 42 days to achieve the breakthrough, top intel sources told a leading portal. The masterminds behind the Rameshwaram Cafe blast case managed to evade authorities by exclusively staying in guesthouses and private lodges where identity verification procedures were lax or non-existent.  

The initial breakthrough in the investigation occurred when authorities discovered a cap linked to the suspects. The probe revealed that the cap had been purchased from a store in Chennai. Later, it was revealed that the suspects had stayed in a lodge in Chennai and kept changing their location after the blast.

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For the unversed, following the transfer of the investigation to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on March 3, authorities took a significant step by offering a reward of Rs 10 lakh to apprehend the suspect whose image had been captured on CCTV. 

Who Are These Men? 

Hailing from Thirthahalli in the Shivamogga district of Karnataka, Mussavir Hussain Shazib and Abdul Matheen Taahaa were called the masterminds in the Rameshwaram Cafe blast case that left nearly 10 people injured. Shazib took on the role of placing the Improvised Explosive Device (IED) at the cafe, while Taahaa was the architect of the planning and execution of the blast.

According to the investigation agency, Taahaa, approximately 30 years old, has been using Hindu identity papers and a forged Aadhaar card under the name Vignesh, among other counterfeit documents, to hide his identity. Additionally, the co-accused, Shazib, also around 30 years old, typically dresses in jeans, T-shirts, shirts, and wears a black smartwatch.

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Safe Haven vs Falsehood: WB Police And BJP At Loggerheads 

Meanwhile, the arrest of two accused has triggered a political slugfest in the state with the opposition BJP claiming that the TMC regime has turned the state into a safe haven for terrorists. BJP’s remark drew a riposte from the TMC and West Bengal Police, which pointed out that the NIA arrested the accused with the help of the state police.

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“NIA detains two chief suspects in the Rameshwaram Cafe blast, bomber Mussavir Hussain Shazib and accomplice Abdul Matheen Ahmed Taahaa, from Kolkata. Both likely belong to an ISIS cell in Shivamogga, Karnataka. West Bengal, unfortunately, under Mamata Banerjee, has become a safe haven for terrorists,” Amit Malviya, co-incharge of BJP in West Bengal, posted on X.

Hitting back at the BJP, CM Mamata said the accused in the Bengaluru blast case were arrested because of the state police's prompt action. "Heard one BJP leader saying that Bengal is not safe. The accused were arrested within two hours following a prompt response by police. What about the states where you are in power?" she said at a rally in Cooch Behar.

"What about Uttar Pradesh Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi, Gujarat and Bihar? " she asked.

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Banerjee blamed the BJP for spreading canards against the state. The TMC supremo accused the saffron party of misusing central agencies and not allowing a "level-playing field for all political parties" in the elections. 

Echoing similar remarks, TMC leader Kunal Ghosh claimed that the accused were arrested by the NIA with the help of West Bengal Police. “Well done @WBPolice in connection with the Bengaluru-cafe blast arrest. Even @NIA_India has acknowledged it in their statements. Any anti-forces should be strictly dealt with. But let me ask to @BJP4India and their minions – where are these arrests made from? KANTHI. We all know which family and BJP’s main leader runs illegal activities from Contai,” he posted on X.

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Kanthi or Contai is known as a stronghold of BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari and his family. Ghosh requested the state agencies to investigate into the “family’s alleged role in the incident.” West Bengal Police also termed BJP’s claims as false.

“WEST BENGAL POLICE EXPOSES LIES OF BJP & THEIR CHEAP TROLLS. Falsehood at its worst! Contrary to the claims made by @amitmalviya, the fact is that two suspects in the Rameshwaram Cafe blast case have been arrested from Purba Medinipur in a JOINT operation by the West Bengal Police and the Central Intelligence Agencies. The proactive role of WBP in the matter has been officially acknowledged by the Central Agencies,” said West Bengal Police, adding that the state has never been a safe haven for terrorists and it will continue to remain ever-vigilant in keeping its people safe from nefarious activities.

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Published April 12th, 2024 at 17:42 IST