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DRDO scientist held for Rohini court blast, Delhi Police says he wanted to kill ex-neighbour

The blast at Rohini court occurred around 10.25 am on 9 December, in courtroom No. 102, and left one policeman injured. It was a low-intensity explosion because the IED 'malfunctioned'.

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New Delhi: The low-intensity blast on the Rohini district court premises earlier this month was the result of a personal tiff between a 47-year-old Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) scientist and a lawyer, who are former neighbours, Delhi Police Special Cell claimed Saturday.

The DRDO scientist, Bharat Bhushan Kataria, allegedly sought to orchestrate an attack against the lawyer, Amit Vashisht, and planted an IED inside a tiffin box, police said. The two had been residents of the same apartment block till three years back, and had a long-standing dispute, they added.

Kataria was arrested Friday. Delhi Police said he had confessed.

“Incriminating material related to the incident, including similar screws that were used as shrapnel in the IED and remnants of the black adhesive tape used in making the IED… were recovered from the accused Bharat Bhushan Kataria’s house in Delhi’s Ashok Vihar,” Delhi Police Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Rajeev Ranjan Singh said Saturday.

The blast at Rohini court occurred around 10.25 am on 9 December, in courtroom No. 102, and left one policeman injured. A case was subsequently registered under IPC Section 307 (attempt to murder), and Section 3 of the Explosive Substances Act.

Over the following days, Delhi police examined over 1,000 vehicles that had entered the court premises on the day of the blast and questioned their owners. Footage from over a 100 CCTV cameras installed on the premises was analysed and forensic examination of the crime scene conducted, police said. All this helped police identify Kataria as the alleged culprit.

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Tracking Kataria

Describing their acrimony, police said Kataria and Vashisht have filed a dozen civil and criminal cases against each other over the past 10 years. “One such case was listed for hearing on 9 December,” Singh added.

The accused, police said, visited the Rohini court on 9 December with the intention of killing Vashisht, who was also present on the premises.

“Bhushan searched for Vashisht and found him sitting in the back row of the courtroom. He placed the bag containing the IED behind Amit Vashisht and triggered the IED from a safe distance using a remote,” Singh added. “At 10:35 am, he walked out from the court complex on the Ring Road side and went back home in his Ertiga car.”

According to police, CCTV footage recovered from the area showed the DRDO scientist entering the court premises dressed in a black coat and trousers — in an attempt perhaps to pass off as a lawyer.

He was also allegedly seen leaving the court premises without the bag he was carrying while entering.

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‘Automobile anti-theft mechanism used’ 

Police said the mechanism used in automobile (two-wheeler) anti-theft systems was used to make the IED remote control. However, the mechanism malfunctioned, as a result of which it was a low-intensity blast, they added.

The bomb was placed in a steel tiffin box and was loaded with sharpnel, police said.

But “only the detonator went off, the tiffin box bomb’s circuit wasn’t connected properly, which is why the ammonium nitrate (used for the blast) didn’t explode”, a senior officer in Delhi Police said. “Further investigation is on to find if there are more people involved in the matter,” the officer added.

Upon examination of the crime spot, police found that the materials used to build the IED were easily available. “Components of the IED were identified from the debris and exhaustive efforts were made to track the source of all such components,” the DCP said.

The bag allegedly used to place the IED was tracked down to a multinational company that makes medical equipment, and the distributors were questioned during the course of the investigation, Singh said. “We also identified stationery shops that sold the kind of file cover found in the bag with the IED,” he added.

The DCP said police found out that the accused’s brother-in-law worked in a Mumbai-based multinational medical equipment company that distributed bags similar to the one in which the IED had been concealed. The bags had a “distinct logo”.

“The brother-in-law had given some of these black bags to his relatives, including Bharat Bhushan Kataria,” said Singh.

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)

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