The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), which arrested 10 alleged Daesh men in January and foiled their purported plan of mass-killing devotees at the 400-year-old Shree Mumbreshwar Temple in Mumbra, said in the charge sheet that the accused had attempted to poison the temple’s maha prasad.
The charge sheet said that one of the accused, Talha Potrik, had attempted to poison the prasad during the Shrimadh Bhagwat Katha organised at the temple in December last year. Around 40,000 devotees had consumed the prasad that day.
The ATS identified an accused, Abu Hamza, as the leader of the group, and said in the charge sheet that he had conducted blast trials in the hills near Mumbra bypass. Besides Potrik and Hamza, the other accused have been identified as Mohsin Khan alias Abu Marya, Atai Waris Abdul Rashid Shaikh alias Mazhar, Mohammad Takky Khan alias Abu Khalid, Mushahed Ul-Islam, Jamman Khutepad alias Abu Kital, Salman Khan alias Abu Ubeda, and Fahad Ansari. The tenth accused is a minor. Most of them are residents of Mumbra while a couple of them are from Aurangabad.
The charge sheet said that the group was inspired by absconding preacher Zakir Naik, who is an accused in terror-related cases filed by the National Investigation Agency. “Several videos featuring Naik and his images have been recovered from the social media profiles of the accused,” the charge sheet said.
It further said that the group was in contact with its foreign-based handlers, and one of the accused, Marya had attended physical training sessions at a stadium in Mumbra as per the Daesh handbook. “A few months before their arrests, Jamman, Salman, Waris, and Fahad Mohammad had prepared explosives using hydrogen peroxide. Abu Hamza along with other accused had conducted trials of the explosion. They had also surveyed the Mumbra temple,” the ATS charge sheet said.
The agency has also recorded statements of six people who claimed that the accused had tried to radicalise them. Advocate TW Pathan, who is representing the accused, said there was not even a shred of evidence against his clients. “The police have made the allegations without any evidences to back them,” he said.
The agency has also added section 201(causing disappearance of evidence of offence) of the Indian Penal Code in the case. The move was made after the agency found that the accused had deleted their Telegram accounts so that vital evidence could not be gathered against them.
The group had also procured information about the procedure to make explosives and poison through the ‘Military Science’ channel of Daesh on Telegram.
“Mohsin Khan alias Abu Marya had organised a group, Ummat-E-Mohammaddiya, on social media to share the ideology of Daesh, and only reliable persons with similar thoughts were admitted in the group. Members of the group were in contact with foreign-based handlers. Marya had also attended physical training sessions conducted at a stadium at Kausa-Mumbra to tackle the hardships in the Daesh battlefield. He was also a member of the Telegram groups Wakkunuma-Assadikin and Iqwa-F-Deen. These groups would share Daesh ideology material,” the chargesheet stated.