In a shocking turn to the probe into the explosives-laden vehicle found near billionaire Mukesh Ambani's Mumbai residence, police have reportedly recovered a mobile phone from inside a barrack in Delhi's Tihar jail.
This phone was used to create a Telegram channel of purported terror outfit Jaish Ul Hind, which claimed responsibility for threatening the Ambanis.
Tihar jail authorities conducted a search on Thursday night and recovered a mobile phone from the barrack of Tehseen Akhtar alias Monu, a suspected key Indian Mujahideen operative, reported The Indian Express.
Meanwhile, the Delhi government has sought a report from the director general of Delhi Prisons regarding seizure of a mobile phone from Tihar Jail, after police approached prison authorities in connection with the Mukesh Ambani bomb scare probe.
Tihar Jail authorities have seized a mobile phone which is suspected to have been used for operating a Telegram channel used to claim responsibility for terror acts/ threats, the Delhi Police said on Friday.
Tehseen was allegedly involved in several bomb attacks, including blasts in Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Varanasi.
Tehseen was reportedly the chief of the Indian Mujahideen after its co-founder Yasin Bhatkal was arrested in 2013.
The Indian Express quoted DCP (Special Cell) Pramod Kushwah as saying, "...Tihar Jail authorities have seized a mobile phone from a jail where certain terror convicts are lodged."
"It is suspected that this phone has been used for operating Telegram channels used recently for claiming responsibility for terror acts and threats," Kushwah said, adding that further investigation and forensic analysis is required.
Sources told The Indian Express the phone was being used by several prisoners, including Tehseen.
An investigation agency had asked a private cyber firm to trace the location of the phone through which the Jaish Ul Hind Telegram channel was created, official sources told the publication.
They found the channel was created inside Tihar jail.
Earlier, several numbers operating inside Tihar had been put on technical surveillance by the Special Cell. After it emerged that Jaish Ul Hind's Telegram channel was created through TOR from inside the jail, the intelligence agency shared the phone's IP address with the Delhi Police.
A police source told the publication that the Telegram channel was created around 3.20 pm on February 26 (the day after the security scare outside Ambani's residence).
The message claiming responsibility for the threat was posted on the Telegram channel late on February 27 night.
It also demanded money from the Ambanis and included a link for payment through cryptocurrency, the source said.
Delhi government orders probe
Delhi Home Minister Satyendar Jain told reporters that a probe has been ordered into the matter and action will be taken against anyone found to be at fault.
Jain has also written to the DG (Prisons) in this regard and sought a report about seizure of a mobile phone from the jail.
On Thursday, a senior Mumbai Police official said a Telegram channel through which an organisation named Jaish-ul-Hind had claimed responsibility for placing an explosives-laden SUV near industrialist Ambani's residence in Mumbai last month was 'created in the Tihar' area of Delhi.
The Delhi Police's Special Cell had approached the Tihar Jail administration on Thursday after the new angle emerged, according to official sources.
'Based on information provided by the Special Cell, Tihar Jail authorities have seized a mobile phone from a jail where certain terror convicts are lodged. It is suspected that this phone has been used for operating Telegram channels used recently for claiming responsibility for terror acts/ threats,' Deputy Commissioner of Police (Special Cell) Pramod Singh Kushwah said.
The officer said further investigation and forensic analysis will be done after the mobile handset and details of the seizure are received from the Tihar Jail authorities.
The Mumbai Police took the help of a private cyber agency to track the location of the phone on which the Telegram channel was created, the senior Mumbai Police official had said.
During the investigation, the location of the phone was traced near Delhi's Tihar Jail, he added.
A Mahindra Scorpio SUV with gelatin sticks was found parked near 'Antilia', the multi-storey residence of Ambani, in south Mumbai on February 25.
According to police sources, the Telegram channel was created on February 26 and the message claiming responsibility for placing the vehicle outside Ambani's residence was posted on the Telegram messaging app late in the night on February 27.
The message had also demanded payment in cryptocurrency and mentioned a link to deposit the same.
During the probe, the link was found as 'not available', due to which the investigators suspected it to be mischievous, the official said.
On February 28, another message from Jaish-ul-Hind surfaced on a social media platform, claiming that the organisation did not have any role in the incident.
The investigation in the case was initially conducted by the Crime Branch of the Mumbai Police.
After the mysterious death of Thane-based auto parts dealer Mansukh Hiran, who was in possession of the SUV that was later found parked outside Ambani's residence, the probe was transferred to the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS).
On Monday, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) took over the case related to the recovery of the explosives-laden vehicle. Inputs from PTI, ANI, NewsBytes