The four Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI)-linked fugitive suspects, who were wanted by National Investigation Agency (NIA), and were allegedly involved in the Pune blast that took place in the premises of Faraskhana police in 2014, have been nabbed in Rourkela by a special operation Group (SOG), on Wednesday midnight.

The police said that at least five guns and several bullets have been seized from their possession. The arrested youths, who hail from Madhya Pradesh, have been identified as Ramesh Shaikh Ismail (27), Umar Ramzan Khan (27), Vinaykumar Badrul Hussain and Mohammad Aslam alias Bilal. The police have also detained a woman name Najma Bi (60), who is mother of Mahboob.

An Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) officer from Pune said, “From the arrested persons, Zakeer, Shaikh Mahboob and Ajmat were wanted in the blast which took place at Faraskhana-Vishrambaug police station in 2014. They were held from Kureshi area in Rourkela. They were staying together for long time. A team of officers has headed to Rourkela to interrogate the suspects, and will try to get their custody. As per the profile that we have collected about the gang’s operations, from 2008 to 2011, they were into bank robberies and murders. We suspect, in 2014, most of the police stations were targeted by them, and they were possibly involved in the Chennai railway station blast too. They were also planning to target banks in Uttar Prashesh area.”

The arrest took place in a joint operation between the Odisha and Telangana police under the surveillance of Intelligence Bureau over a period of three hours. The operation took place at the Mala Road area of Rourkela. It began on Tuesday night, and went on till the wee hours of Wednesday. Acting on a tip-off, the police teams of Odisha and Telangana carried out the raids in Rourkela. Police seized five firearms and ammunition from the arrested accused. The five suspects, and the woman, were absconding from Khandwa jail in Madhya Pradesh.

Special Director General of Police (Intelligence), Arun Sarangi said, “All the arrested suspects have been involved in activities of SIMI and their roots are mostly seen in Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. They were using a false identity and staying in Rourkela to collect money through dacoity for their other operations. The five were also involved in a bank robbery and are suspected to be involved in several terror activities outside the state. In fact, the arrested people and are reported to be involved in at least 17 other cases.”

The officers who nabbed the gang will be rewarded with Rs 10 lakh by the NIA.