A mobile phone handset, allegedly used by four persons recently arrested by NIA for their suspected involvement in five blast cases in court premises of Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka since April, has been recovered from an autorickshaw driver in Thane, police said.
The handset, vital for probe into the blasts, was traced by Thane police Crime Branch to Kalyan township with an autorickshaw driver, who had put his SIM card in it and been using it, they said.
Swooping down on various locations, NIA with the help of Tamil Nadu and Telangana Police, had last month apprehended four youths suspected to be part of a group sympathising with al Qaeda and involved in the blasts at court complexes.
Those arrested were -- Abbas Ali (27), a resident of Madurai, Suleiman (23), a resident of Chennai, and Samsum Karim Raja and Mohammed Ayub Ali (25) of Madurai.
Ali was a public liaison officer for a hearing aid company. They allegedly used the handset and later dumped it.
The Thane police probe team secured the IMEI number of the handset and was searching for it since several months.
About two weeks ago, the police team received information that the phone has been activated.
Thane police commissioner Param Bir Singh told reporters on Tuesday that they were contacted by their Telangana counterparts for the recovery of the handset, which was vital for their investigation.
A crime branch official, who was part of the search team, said the tower indicated the mobile phone location area around Mumbra, Diva and Kalyan and after a close watch on the movements of the user, he was picked up last week.
The autorickshaw driver, residing in Mumbra township near Kalyan, was questioned by multiple teams from Telangana, officers of the ATS and the city Crime Branch sleuths.
According to police, they have verified that the auto driver does not have links to any terror group.
They said the driver informed them he had found that handset discarded near Kalyan station. After finding it in good condition, he activated it using his old SIM card.
The cases relate to blasts inside a vehicle at a parking place at district court complex in Chittoor, Andhra Pradesh, on April 7; in a parking area of CJM Court Complex at Kollam in Kerala on June 15; inside court complex at Mysuru on August 1, in Nellore of Andhra Pradesh on September 12 and inside a toilet complex of judicial court, Malappuram in Kerala on November 1.