The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) has filed charge sheet against 10 persons allegedly belonging to ISIS for attempting to mass-killing devotees at the 400-year-old Shree Mumbreshwar Temple in Mumbra. They hade planned to poison the maha prasad during the Shrimadh Bhagwat Katha organised at the temple in December last year. The 10 terrorists were arrested in January this year by the ATS.
Around 40,000 devotees had consumed the prasad that day.
The charge sheet said that the members of the organisation were inspired by the absconding Radical Islamist preacher, Zakir Naik. The controversial Islamic preacher, Naik is being probed by Indian agencies in terror-related cases since 2016. Zakir Naik had fled the country following the 2016 Dhaka terror attack where the terrorists claimed to be admirers of Naik. He is wanted in India for money laundering, hate speech and other offences of promoting communal hatred.
According to the charge sheet, one of the accused named Talha Potrik was the mastermind behind the purported plan of mass-killing the devotees which were foiled by the Maharashtra ATS, after which they were arrested in January 2019.
The ATS identified another accused, Abu Hamza as the leader of the group, and said in the charge sheet that the terrorist had conducted blast trials in the hills near Mumbra bypass. Besides these two, 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. While most of the accused are residents of Mumbra few hail from Aurangabad.
The charge sheet said that “several videos featuring Naik and his images have been recovered from the social media profiles of the accused”. It further read that the group was in contact with its foreign-based handlers and one of the accused, Mohsin Khan aka Abu Marya had, in fact, attended physical training sessions at a stadium in Mumbra as per the Daesh handbook.
The ATS charge sheet said that a few days before the arrests the accused had conducted a survey of the area near the Mumbra Temple where they had planned the mass-killing and also prepared explosives using hydrogen peroxide.
The group had procured information about the procedure to make explosives and poison through the ‘Military Science’ channel of Daesh (ISIS) on Telegram.
The ATS also recorded statements of six people who claimed that the accused had tried to radicalise them. However, the agency added IPC section 201(causing disappearance of evidence of offence) to its case after the agency gathered that the accused had deleted their Telegram accounts in an attempt to destroy vital evidence against them.
“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 charge sheet stated.