1993 Mumbai blasts: convict Police scan 40 phone numbers dialled by Ansari during parole

Mumbai Police is considering to register an FIR against 1993 Mumbai blasts convict Jalees Ansari for trying to escape during his 21-day parole. Police said they were scrutinising more than 40 phone numbers that Ansari, who is serving life imprisonment at Central Jail in Ajmer, allegedly dialled while he was out on parole.

Ansari (70), a medical doctor also known as ‘Dr Bomb’ because of his alleged expertise in bomb-making, was serving life imprisonment at Central Jail, Ajmer. He was granted parole in December for 21 days and ordered to visit Agripada police station in Mumbai every day to mark attendance. He was expected to surrender before prison authorities on January 17, but disappeared from his house a day ago. Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), with the help of Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force (STF), detained Ansari from Kanpur on Friday.

Police said one of the 40 phone numbers has been traced to Akbar Khotal, who was convicted to 10-year imprisonment by a special court for his role in the 2003 Mulund bomb blast case. Khotal has already spent seven years in jail and was out on bail recently after he appealed against the sentence in the High Court.

Police claimed to have learnt that Khotal and Ansari had met at Girgaum Chowpatty in Mumbai. “After Ansari escaped, we had detained Khotal and brought him in for interrogation. Khotal said he had worked with Ansai in the past and spent time together in jail, so he had gone to meet Ansari on knowing he was out on parole,” an investigating officer in the case said. Khotal reportedly had visited Ansari’s residence first but was informed that the latter was visiting Girgaum Chowpatty with his family. So, he went to meet him there, the officer said.

According to police, Ansari reportedly had left his house around 4 am on January 16 for CSTM station, from where he took a train at 4.48 am to Kalyan. He reached Kalyan around 6.30 am and met some people. Two hours later he reportedly took a train to Kanpur. “So far, he hasn’t said anything about the people he met in those two hours, but we are trying to identify them through CCTV cameras,” another officer said.

On reaching Kanpur a day later, Ansari claimed to have met his friend, Mohamed Karim, who runs a madrasa. Ansari reportedly has told police he wanted to work at the madrasa and hence went straight to Karim’s house.

“Ansari told police that as he had already spent more than 25 years in jail, he wanted to stay out as much as he could. So he thought he would teach Arabic in the madrasa,” said an investigator. But Karim reportedly had turned him away, following which Ansari went to another madrasa where he stayed for the night and was detained by the UP STF later. ATS is checking the history of Karim and will submit a detailed report on him to the UP STF. Police said Ansari was traced to Uttar Pradesh with help of his cell phone’s call data record, which he had purchased on January 10.

“Since the time he came out on parole, Ansari had been requesting his children to get him a SIM card, but they refused to give him one. So he went and bought it with a cousin brother. After Ansari went missing, his family was brought in for interrogation. They told police his number and finally, Ansari was traced to Kanpur… His movement was also verified from footage obtained from CCTV cameras installed in CST, Kalyan and Kanpur railway stations,” an officer said.

Police said they were investigating why Ansari bought a new cellphone and SIM card when he was supposed to surrender in less than seven days. Police said during his time in jail, Ansari wrote a book, ‘Essentials of Arabic grammar to learn Quranic language’, on Arabic grammar. He reportedly gave a copy of it to his son and asked him to publish it under the name Abu Rehman.

“When we questioned on the matter, Ansari said one of his sons is called Rehman, which is why he had chosen that name,” an investigator added.