New Delhi: The Gujarat Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) has arrested a man from Madhya Pradesh who played a key role in the five bomb blasts that rocked various parts of the state in the aftermath of the 2002 post-Godhra riots.
Mohammad Irfan Qureshi, on the run for 13 years, was nabbed from a village in Shahdol district on receiving a tip-off about his presence there, an ATS release said.
Qureshi, in his 40s, allegedly played a key role in carrying out the multiple explosions, which killed three persons and injured many others in 2002, it said.
According to the ATS, Qureshi, originally from Uttar Pradesh's Bulandshaher district, had settled in Godhra, a town 125km from Ahmedabad where he made a living by selling rugs.
After the 2002 riots, he came into contact with one Yusuf Gheeteli and allegedly hatched a plan to plant several bombs to avenge the killing of Muslims in the communal conflagration, triggered by the Godhra train carnage.
He then went to Mathura in Uttar Pradesh from where he sent various material used to prepare bombs to Godhra by wrapping them in rugs. After coming back to Godhra, he gave training to the other accused in bomb-making, claimed ATS.
Qureshi and others planted and detonated bombs in five places - one inside a bus in Godhra, one in a parked scooter in Mehlol village near Godhra, one in a Vespa scooter in nearby Lunavada town, one in a bike in Delol village of Panchmahal district and the fifth one inside a bus in Thasra village of Kheda district, the anti-terror agency said.
Three people were killed in the bomb blast in Delol while many were injured in the other explosions.
After the terror attacks, Qureshi fled to his hometown in UP while all other 12 accused were subsequently apprehended.
While being on the run, he lived in many parts of India to evade arrest, the agency said.
According to a report from Shahdol, quoting local Police Inspector Rajesh Mishra, Qureshi had been residing there for the last three years and earned his livelihood by selling bedsheets and quilts.