Mumbai: Groping for a breakthrough four days after the triple blasts, police on Sunday prepared a sketch of a suspect even as brother of an alleged Indian Mujahideen (IM) member died in a hospital here after being questioned on Wednesday's explosions.

Widening the probe, police teams also fanned out to seven states to get definite leads in a desperate hunt for the
bombers of the July 13 terror attack that left 19 dead and over 130 injured.

A senior ATS official said the sketch of the suspect in the serial blasts based on eyewitness accounts has been prepared.

"The sketch of the suspect is ready. It will be circulated among the select and top investigating officials It will not be released to the public," he said.

Faiz Usmani, brother of Afzal Usmani, who is currently lodged in jail for his role in the 2008 Gujarat blasts, on Sunday died at 1:30 AM while he was undergoing treatment for hemiparesis and hypertension in the Lokmanya Tilak Hospital, doctors said.

Usmani, a resident of suburban Govandi, was picked up for questioning yesterday by Chembur's Crime Branch unit and as he was not feeling well was admitted to the Hospital in Sion at around 5:50 PM.

As he died, Usmani's family alleged that he was tortured in custody.

Maharashtra DGP Ajit Parasnis ordered a CID inquiry into the death. "A CID inquiry has been ordered into the death of Usmani by the DGP. The state CID will look into various aspects that resulted in his death," Joint Police Commissioner (Law and Order) Rajnish Seth said.

Usmani' son Azeem alleged that his father was picked up for questioning and "pressurised during interrogation. They are to blame for his death".

Ryan Kumar, a doctor at the hospital, said, "He (Faiz Usmani) died due to brain hemorrhage. This condition usually
comes when a person is exposed to some kind of shock".

Usmani's wife Rubaida said, "When the police came to take him, they said that they will just interrogate him. He
had gone alone. So we don't know what the police questioned him about. I don't know to what extent he was tortured, that he got so tensed. They came back in an hour saying he was unwell, he had vomited and admitted to Sion Hospital."

The Mumbai Police have, however, denied the charge by Usmani's family.

"He (Faiz Usmani) was brought for questioning by the Chembur unit. He was suffering from hypertension and had not take medicines for the last three-four days. He was admitted to the hospital last evening and the allegations of torture by police are absolutely untrue," said Deputy Police Commissioner (Crime) Nisar Tamboli.

Even as the blame game continued, Maharashtra DGP Ajit Parasnis ordered a CID enquiry into the death of Usmani.

Meanwhile, the doctors at the hospital said that there were no external injuries on Usmani's body and the postmortem report is yet to be prepared, which would be submitted to police.

According to the sources in Maharashtra ATS, two to three more sketches of suspects based on eyewitness accounts would also be prepared.

ATS chief Rakesh Maria said, "We are in touch with UP, Gujarat, Delhi, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka police, as well as all the central agencies. It is an all out effort".

"Our teams have fanned out to various locations. People in various modules who have been arrested in the past,
they are being questioned to help us in this investigation," he said.

Culprits will be booked soon: Antony

Intensive efforts are underway to nab the culprits behind the July 13 Mumbai serial blasts, Defence Minister A K Antony said.

"The culprits behind the blasts may be from within the country or outside, but they will be brought before the law soon," he said during an informal chat with reporters here.

The investigation would be without any prejudice and those found guilty would get deserving punishment, he said.

Without naming Pakistan, he said the investigation would not derail peace talks initiated with "neighbouring countries."

The talks would not be disrupted or stopped in the name of probe into the blasts, Antony said.

Foreign Ministers of India and Pakistan are to meet in New Delhi towards the end of this month to review the progress of the bilateral peace process that was revived earlier this year.

Congress trying to find 'scapegoats': BJP

Attacking Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan for his comment that giving the
home protfolio to NCP was a mistake, senior BJP leader L K Advani said Congress should not try to find "scapegoats" for the Mumbai blasts.

He also asked the Centre to "radically" alter its policy on dealing with terror warning that such incidents will recur if this was not done.

Referring to Chavan's comment on NCP holding the home portfolio, Advani said in his latest blog, "Let not the Congress party try not to find scapegoats for the latest Mumbai outrage.

"The common man must be feeling amazed to read the Maharashtra Chief Minister blaming the blasts on the NCP just because the Home portfolio in the state is with the party," he said.

The Chief Minister had in controversial comments said Congress agreeing to give the key Home portfolio to NCP was a mistake.

"I think it was a mistake. We should have re-looked at it. I don't know of any other coalition government where the portfolios of Home, Finance and Planning are not with the Chief Minister," Chavan had said, evoking an angry response from the Congress ally.

Advani said Union Home Minister P Chidambaram himself has absolved R R Patil (Maharashtra Home Minister) of blame when he asserted that there had been no intelligence failure, which meant that the local police establishment was not at fault.

Seeking a change in the government's policy on dealing with terror, Advani said, "So far as the Mumbai killings are concerned, you can blame neither the Chief Minister nor the Home Minister of the state. It is New Delhi that is squarely responsible," Advani said.

"Both the Prime Minister and the Congress president must realise that unless the Government of India's terror policy changes radically, such incidents will continue to recur," he said.

On the 2G scam, he said though the Minister (A Raja) of the alliance partner was removed and later jailed, "the DMK is being fondly protected by New Delhi on the plea of coalition dharma."

Probe role of Hindu outfits: Digvijay

Continuing his tirade against RSS, Congress leader Digvijay Singh alleged that it was "making bomb factories" and demanded that role of all kinds of terror groups, including Hindu outfits, should be probed in connection with the Mumbai serial blasts.

"I have been saying that RSS was spreading terrorism in the country and it has been making bomb factories," Singh told reporters.
When asked about his statement on Saturday not ruling out involvement of RSS in the Mumbai blasts, he said, "I only said that role of all kinds of terrorist organisations, including Hindu terror outfits, should be probed."

The Congress General Secretary had courted controversy on Saturday when he said that he does not rule out the involvement of Sangh in Mumbai serial blasts, evoking criticism and condemnation from BJP.

"I do not rule out anything. If they want evidence about Sangh's involvement in terror activity, I have got evidence. But not in this case," Singh had told the media.
 
Reacting sharply to the Congress leader's comments, the BJP termed them as "disgusting and objectionable" and sought an apology from Congress president Sonia Gandhi for what Singh had said.

To a question about his interest in Madhya Pradesh politics and whether he will contest an election from here, Singh said that since he had taken an oath of not contesting polls, he would stick to it and focus on party work.

Terrorists can't destablise India: Pranab

In a stern message to the perpetrators of Wednesday's serial blasts in Mumbai, Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday said terrorists were "utterly" mistaken if they believed that their acts could destabilise the country.

Condemning the serial blasts, Mukherjee told reporters here, "If the terrorists feel that they will be able to destabilise India, then they are utterly mistaken. We will be able to overcome the challenge."

Expressing deep sympathy for the blast victims, the veteran Congress leader said, "The incident of such nature will strengthen our resolve to fight terrorism."

Mukherjee was interacting with the reporters on the sidelines of a meeting with revenue officials.

Suicide theory ruled out

Meanwhile, investigators on Saturday claimed they have obtained "good leads" in the triple explosions here, ruled out involvement of a suicide bomber and said a suspect's sketch may be prepared soon.

Maharashtra Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) Chief Rakesh Maria said investigations were moving in a "certain direction" but refused to elaborate.

As investigators struggled for a breakthrough three days after the terror attack, police teams also fanned out to seven states widening the probe to get definite leads in a desperate hunt for the bombers.

He said sketch of a probable suspect would be prepared soon based on certain eyewitness accounts and CCTV footage at a blast site.

Maria also made it clear tht till the case is "cracked" and people involved are in the custody of the police they would not like to speculate which group was involved.

He claimed the identification of persons seen in the CCTV footages was on and stated that photograph of an individual seen in the footage needed more verification.

"At this stage, I can say we have good leads and I am not in a position to reveal what the clues are. I can very confidently say, the investigations are probably moving in a certain direction,” Maria said.

"After visiting the blast sites, we can now rule out the possibility of suicide bomber," the ATS chief added.

Based on an eyewitness account, a sketch of a probable suspect may be ready by tonight and circulated among the investigators, Maria said.

"Experts have retrieved certain portions of metallic container which was used to store and carry the explosives," he added.

Forensic experts had opined that ammonium nitrate mixed with fuel oil was used in the explosives while digital timers were used to carry out the blasts.

He also said ammonium nitrate, crude oil and digital timers were used to trigger the explosions at the sites of three serial blasts.

The death toll in the Wednesday attack rose to 19 after one of the victims of the blasts succumbed to his injuries in a city hospital.

Teams of Maharashtra ATS and crime branch had gone to various places in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Delhi, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Rajasthan Maria said, adding they were also taking the help of police of respective states and the central agencies.

Ashok's nephew Aniket Jain, whose father owns a jewellery shop in Zaveri Bazar, said his uncle had parked the bike close to the blast site at around 3 pm on Wednesday while the blasts occurred at around 6:55 pm.

"ATS had called Ashok to its office at Nagpada on Friday with all the papers pertaining to the bike," said Aniket.

The insurance of the bike had expired two months ago. "We did not even realise that the insurance has expired," he said.

The front portion of the bike was completely destroyed in the blasts and the vehicle is presently in the custody of the police.

Police suspect that the blasts were triggered with the use of a IED kept in an abandoned umbrella, on one of the bikes there.

Meanwhile, one of the victims of the blasts on Saturday died in a city hospital, taking the death toll in the bombings to 19.

Babulal Das, 42, who was admitted to Saifee Hospital after the blast at Opera House, died around 3 am, they said.

Twenty people, who were seriously injured in the bombings, are being treated at various hospitals in the city.

Alert in Palamau

Strict vigil was being maintained in Maoist-hit Palamau, Latehar and Garhwa districts of Jharkhand with the intelligence having been directed to report about any ‘suspicious act’ to the police headquarters in the wake of Mumbai bomb blasts.

"We are keeping watch on people with past criminal records. The police have stepped up patrolling in sensitive areas in the districts," Deputy Inspector General of Police (Palamau Range), Laxman Prasad Singh, told reporters here.

Referring to Thursday midnight’s raid of a suspected SIMI activist in Ranchi by an anti-terrorist squad from Hyderabad, Singh said raids could not be ruled out anywhere, based on intelligence inputs.

"Besides keeping strict vigil in sensitive areas of Palamau division, the intelligence network has been alerted with the order to report any suspicious action immediately,” he added.

A senior IPS official had on Friday said that the ATS team from Hyderabad carried out the raids at the house of a suspected SIMI activist at Bariatu in Ranchi in connection with a case pertaining to Ahmedabad, but could not locate him.

(JPN/ Agencies)

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