Mohammed Ashar, who was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in connection with the 2006 Kozhikode twin blast case, will be produced before the trial court in Kochi.
Ashar is suspected to be involved in assisting ‘Lashkar-e-Taiba operative’ Thadiyantavida Nazeer and P.P. Yusuf, the first and second accused in the case respectively, in preparing crude bombs and planting them at the KSRTC bus station and the mofussil bus station on March 3, 2006.
To evade arrest, Ashar had left for Saudi Arabia in 2007. He was extradited and arrested on his arrival in Delhi on Thursday. Yusuf is still at large. The NIA court in Kochi had pronounced its verdict in the case in August 2011 and the two accused were sentenced to life imprisonment.
The twin blast case was said to be one of the most mysterious terror-linked cases that remained unresolved in the State for a long time. It had given investigating agencies little clues. The meticulously planned explosions occurred at the two bus stations on Mavoor Road within a gap of 10 minutes in the afternoon. Timer devices had been used for exploding the bombs. Two persons, including a policeman, sustained minor injures in the blast. Initially, it was investigated by a special police team. The case was later handed over to the Crime Branch. The NIA took over the case in 2009.
The arrest of Abdul Halim, a suspect involved in the blast at the Ernakulam collectorate and burning of a Tamil Nadu bus at Kalamassery in 2005, gave investigators some clues. However, he was acquitted in the twin blast case for want of evidence.
It was the arrest of Thadiyantavida Nazeer and Shafaz Samsudheen by the Bangladesh police that gave lead to the NIA team. Both of them had fled to Bangladesh after the terror attacks in Bengaluru in July 2007.
Investigators said that the only clues left behind were the anonymous calls from a public call office received at the district collectorate and a local eveninger, Calicut Times, warning that bombs had been planted at the bus stations and they would go off within half an hour. Later, some newspaper offices received a letter from a fictitious organisation, Al Kanoun, owing responsibility for the blasts. Many believed that Kozhikode city was used as a testing ground to mastermind explosions. The accused, during interrogation, had said that the motive behind the blasts was the ‘perceived partisan attitude of the executive and the judiciary’ in not granting bail to the accused involved in the Marad massacre of May 2, 2003.