Muslims protest police raids over blast in Indian holy town of Varanasi

19:53, December 10, 2010      

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Residents of nearby Muslim- populated Azamgarh district near here Friday alleged that the police and security agencies were treating them as "soft targets" in the Varanasi bomb blast case.

The investigators named a resident of Azamgarh, 80 km from here, as the prime suspect and raided several other villages in the district Thursday night.

According to sources in the state administration, the police personnel went looking for Mohammad Shahnawaz who is allegedly behind the blasts.

However, residents of Azamgarh Friday threatened to call for agitation if the police "harassed" them again. "The next time the police raid Azamgarh, people will hit the streets," Ulema Council chief Amir Rashidi said adding that "the police should take care. Sanjarpur residents should not be harassed without evidence."

Shahnawaz's father Shadab Ahmad was almost in tears.

"Every time there is a blast, my son Shahnawaz's name crops up. I don't know where he is and whether he is alive," Shadab Ahmad said.

As many as 15 youths from Azamgarh's Sanjarpur, the home village of Shahnawaz, were arrested during the raids.

Shahnawaz is the elder brother of Mohammed Saif, who was arrested after the September 2008 Batla House encounter in Delhi. The terror module of Mohammed Saif carried out the 2008 blasts in Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Delhi.

The police is connecting Tuesday's blast with Monday's 18th anniversary of the demolition of the Babri mosque.

Meanwhile, the Police Friday requested Interpol to issue a red- corner notice for Shahnawaz who is believed to be a Unani medicine practitioner hiding in Sharjah.

Shahnawaz is alleged to be involved in all the 2008 blasts carried out in India but fled when the news of his involvement surfaced. However, he continued with his terror module and sponsorship of terrorism in India from abroad.

According to police sources, Shahnawaz studied Unani medicine at Siwan district of, Bihar in northern India and found a job at Lucknow's Mayo Hospital in 2005.

Source: Xinhua


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