In what can lead to a major breakthrough to the pre-Diwali blasts in New Delhi, Army personnel in Doda district are believed to have acquired some vital clues from a "key suspect" who has been handed over to the Delhi Police after his arrest.
"The Army has picked up Ghulam Mohiuddin Lone of Banihal area in Doda district of Kashmir, who has confessed that he was involved in the Paharganj bomb blast in New Delhi," said Colonel DK Badola, spokesman for the Army in Jammu.
Lone was arrested following specific intelligence inputs and Rs 25,000 recovered from him, the official said on conditions of anonymity.
Sources say Lone is believed to have been involved in the 1998 massacre at Chapnari in which 23 Hindus were killed and was also actively working as a "financial coordinator" of Lashkar-e-Taiba in the area.
Sources also said Lone was close to a self-styled Lashkar commander of Batmaloo, who is being named as the main accused in planning the Delhi blasts.
Praveen Swami who writes in The Hindu has more on the involvement of Lashkar operatives:
It is evident that the various terorrist groups are pooling together their resources in their terror attacks.
According to Mohiuddin's preliminary questioning, carried out at the Joint Interrogation Centre in Jammu, he was assigned to the New Delhi operation by a Banihal area Hizb ul-Mujahideen commander, Abdul Hamid. Mohiuddin told his interrogators that his services were requisitioned by the Lashkar-e-Taiba, which said it needed someone familiar with the capital to aid an ongoing operation.
On the morning of October 29, Mohiuddin was contacted at Awantipura Transport's office by three Lashkar operatives. He told interrogators that two of the men he met appeared to be ethnic Kashmiri; the third individual was Urdu-speaking. According to Mohiuddin, the group scouted crowded markets in New Delhi in a hired auto-rickshaw before finally leaving an explosive device in the Paharganj market. Mohiuddin said he was then given Rs. 20,000 as a reward and told to hide out for several days. He therefore travelled to Jodhpur before returning home.
Investigators are pursuing several other leads of potential significance. Intelligence officials in New Delhi are said to be investigating the possible role of a city-based carpet merchant, who served time in jail between 1991 and 1997 on terrorism charges. Mohammad Abdul Bandey, a Lashkar hawala conduit who was arrested on November 4, is also being questioned in Jammu.
"Given that more than one cell seems to have executed the bombings," an official told The Hindu , "an enormous amount of investigative work remains."
If Mohiuddin's custodial account of the Delhi operation proves accurate, it would underline the growing evidence that major jihadist groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been pooling resources to carry out terrorist strikes.
While the Jaish-e-Mohammad claimed responsibility for a recent car bombing in Srinagar, investigators have learned that the vehicle used in the strike was purchased by a Hizb operative. Several similar joint operations have been conducted since 2002.