Ahmed Murtaza Abbasi, who was implicated in the attack on PAC personnel at the Gorakhnath temple gate on Sunday night, recently traveled to Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu and Lumbini in Nepal, the Counter Terrorism Squad said (ATS ) of the Uttar Pradesh Police at a court in Gorakhpur. while asking for custody.
The ATS, which is investigating the attack, said it had to interview the 29-year-old IIT-Bombay graduate in connection with the trips. Abbasi, indicted for attempted murder, was taken into custody for seven days by the ATS on Monday evening.
On Tuesday, an ATS team visited Abbasi’s Navi Mumbai apartment where he stayed until October 2020 before returning to his birthplace in Gorakhpur.
A senior police officer told the Indian Express that an ATS team had been monitoring Abbasi for a few days after discovering his suspicious activities.
“The ATS had doubts about his activities and began monitoring him. His cell phone and laptop were sent for forensic testing. We are hoping to get more information about his movement,” the statement said. officer.
Two days before the incident, two plainclothes police officers had come to his home, the officer added.
“We are trying to find out what all the places he has visited in the last few months. We are trying to collect information on people who have been in contact with him in the last two months,” the officer said, adding that “Abbasi seemed radicalized.”
On Monday, UP police said the attack was “part of a serious conspiracy and qualified as a terrorist incident”.
However, police said they have so far found no evidence to suggest Abbasi’s association with prohibited attire. Police also said evidence so far suggests no one else was involved in Sunday’s incident.
A senior police officer involved in the investigation said he received reports that Abbasi traveled abroad around 2014-2015. “All information that comes in during the investigation needs to be verified. We also need to check if he was interested in joining a terrorist team,” the officer said.
The ATS also told the court that they recovered “several” ATMs and credit cards from his possession.
Meanwhile, an ATS team visited the Taj Heights building in the Seawood area of Navi Mumbai on Tuesday, where Abbasi resided with his family until 2020.
According to a police team from Navi Mumbai, which accompanied the ATS team, the Abbasi family moved to Gorakhpur, their birthplace, in October 2020. Prior to moving to Seawood, the family resided in the Sanpada area of Navi Mumbai, they said.
“Until 2020, Abbasi resided in a residential company in Seawood. He traveled frequently to Jamnagar in Gujarat where he worked for some time before quitting his job. Later the family moved to UP and put the house up for rent,” said Ravindra Patil, a local senior inspector.
“Last week, Abbasi’s father Muneer came to sell the house as they were having difficulty getting from Gorakhpur to Navi Mumbai,” he added.
The ATS team will also travel to IIT-Bombay, where he studied chemical engineering, to gather information on him. “Abbasi studied chemical engineering at IIT-Bombay and his father retired as deputy general manager of a multinational conglomerate. His grandfather was a district judge at UP,” Patil said.
According to the officer, several of Abbasi’s neighbors did not know him well. “Some said he didn’t interact much and was largely on his own,” Patil said, adding, “Abbasi often stayed in Jamnagar. He recently quit his job.
Aslam Shaikh, who lives in the adjacent building and helped rent the Abbasi family’s second-floor apartment, said: “Abbasi didn’t mingle much with the residents. Residents only saw him leaving for work and returning home.
A resident of the building said, “He (Abbasi) used to not offer namaz with us. We never knew him well. From what we heard from his father, he seemed to suffer from mental health issues.
Abbasi’s family members said his wife left him a few months ago and he has been suffering from depression since 2017.
On Sunday evening, Abbasi attacked PAC staff stationed at the temple with a “sharp weapon” while brandishing religious slogans and trying to force his way into the premises.
The chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath, is the chief priest of the temple. Police said he was not present at the scene when the incident occurred.