Investigators attempting to piece together the plot behind Thursday's Hyderabad blasts have reportedly detained six people and have questioned many more. But they are being circumspect about accusing any terror group just yet, as questions are raised on whether a major intelligence failure allowed the horrific death of 16 people this week.
One of the leads being investigated is the suspected role of the terror group Indian Mujahideen (IM) as the blasts bear what are seen as IM signatures. There are also many parallels that investigative agencies have drawn between the Pune serial blasts in August 2012 and the Hyderabad blasts, like the composition of the bombs and the way they were placed on bicycles in busy markets about 150 metres apart.
NDTV has learnt that the Maharashtra anti-terrorist squad or ATS, which now has a team in Hyderabad investigating Thursday's blasts, might have failed to share critical information purportedly linking key suspects in the Pune blasts case to Hyderabad.
On Februay 11 this year, the Maharashtra ATS released the pictures of four alleged IM operatives that it said were wanted for various terror strikes across the country, including the Pune blasts. These men were identified as Yasin Bhatkal, believed to be one of the founders of the IM, Asadullah Akhtar alias Tabrez, Waqas alias Ahmed, and Tahaseen alias Raju Bhai.
The ATS announced a Rs. 10-lakh bounty on each of them and shared the photographs across Maharashtra and with other states. Sources said it received around 300 calls offering information, among them some calls from Hyderabad claiming that Tabrez and Waqas had been spotted in the city.
The Maharashtra ATS allegedly failed to share this input with their counterparts in Andhra Pradesh. This despite a Delhi Police warning last year that two men that it had arrested in the Pune blasts case - Imran Khan and Sayad Maqbool - had confessed to having recced Dilsukhnagar and other busy markets in Hyderabad to locate possible terror targets.
Sharing of intelligence is critical to foiling terror attacks. The Andhra Pradesh police and even the Chief Minister have said they had attempted to sanitise many parts of Hyderabad after the tip-off from the Delhi Police
After Thursday's blast, the Maharashtra ATS rushed a team to Hyderabad, reportedly to follow up on the leads it has on Waqas and Tabrez, who allegedly know the city well.
This is not the first time that the ATS has drawn flak. While investigating the July 13 Mumbai blasts, it was accused of having allowed two suspects to escape because it did not cooperate with The National Investigation Agency or NIA, which too was investigating the case. Ironically, the two men who allegedly escaped then are Tabrez and Waqas.
The Hyderabad Police are treading carefully and have been circumspect in naming any group or individuals yet because of past experience. Their initial call in the Mecca Masjid blasts case of 2007 turned out to be wrong and later investigations turned the needle of suspicion towards a completely different direction.