The low-intensity blast that the state DGP described as an “act of terror” was reportedly triggered by an IED placed inside a pressure cooker. The explosion wounded Shariq and auto driver Purushotham. Sources said Shariq was carrying the bomb and it went off suddenly. Both are in hospital, and Shariq is said to have suffered around 45% burns.
Mangaluru, Mysuru and Shivamogga police have, along with central probe agencies, conducted searches at seven places across Karnataka and detained five people for questioning. Two were picked up in Mysuru, one each in Mangaluru and Bengaluru, and another in Udhagamandalam of Tamil Nadu.
Shariq’s name was doing the rounds, but police hadn’t confirmed it. Investigators joined the dots and confirmed Shariq’s true identity after speaking with his relatives, who reached Mangaluru in the morning. Plus, they also looked at data stored in his phone.
ADGP (law and order) Alok Kumar said the suspect’s acts “have been influenced and inspired by terrorist organisations having a global presence. The accused has three cases against him at Mangaluru North, Mangaluru East and Shivamogga Rural police stations.”
Police said Shariq is a college dropout—BCom second year—and had no technical knowhow about making explosives. He reportedly sought assistance of MTech students.
Police said Shariq learnt to make IEDs by following drawings in a notebook. A range of mixer grinders, keypad phones, batteries, timer PCB boards, cables, nuts and bolts, sulphate, potassium chlorate and large quantities of glass powder were found in his rented room in Mysuru. Police also have his notebook.
Shariq made the pressure-cooker bomb in his room and carried it on a bus to Mangalaru on Saturday. He hired an auto and told the driver that he wanted to be dropped at Pumpwell, Mangaluru. They had travelled barely a km when the blast occurred.
Preliminary investigations suggested Shariq’s immediate handler was Arafath Ali, accused of inciting radicalised youths to write graffiti praising Lashkar-e-Taiba and terrorism in Mangaluru two years ago. The suspect was also in touch with Musafir Hussain and Abdul Mateen Ahmed Taha, who have been charged in the Bengaluru al-Hind module case.
Taha is learnt to be Shariq’s main handler. The NIA has announced a cash reward for any information on Taha. Shariq was also in touch with other people.
Shariq was arrested before for writing graffiti like “Lashkar Zindabad”, but he had jumped bail last year and was on the run since. His terrorist links were corroborated by two associates following their arrest a few months ago. Shariq’s name surfaced again during a communal clash in Shivamogga over the display of Hindutva ideologue Vinayak Damodar Savarkar’s photograph at a public place on August 15.
In Bengaluru, a youth identified as Mohammed Ruhulla was detained. “There is circumstantial evidence that shows Shariq and Ruhulla lived together at a room in Mysuru for some time,” a police source said. “Ruhulla had worked for Popular Front of India (banned outfit), but we have picked him up in connection with the Mangaluru blast.”