Train accident
[Representational Image]Reuters

Syed Mir Husain, one of the three men arrested for carrying out an explosion on the Bhopal-Ujjain passenger train in Madhya Pradesh on March 7, told the National Investigation Agency (NIA) that the group had initially planned to attack several targets in Uttar Pradesh. These targets included the Bara Imambara in Lucknow, the Waris Ali Shah dargah in Barabanki and a popular Shia cleric.

According to the Indian Express, official sources said that Husain told the NIA interrogators about the group's plans to attack the dargah in Barabanki. The group had spent an entire day studying the security arrangements and the movement of pilgrims at the dargah. They visited the Waris Ali Shah dargah in Barabanki in the first week of February and took photographs of the place on their mobile phones.

The group identified four locations inside the dargah as the best ones to place the bombs -- a small room in the mazar where a lot of people gather entry and exit gates of the mazar, the place where people leave their shoes before entering the precincts and the qawwali area of the dargah. They kept a track of the crowds at the shrine on Jummerat by making videos of the flow of pilgrims. But they soon gave up the idea due to heavy police presence and security arrangements at the dargah all through the day. Husain was arrested from Pipariya in the state's Hoshangabad district a few hours after the blast.

The group also wanted to attack the Bara Imambara in Lucknow and Shia cleric Maulana Salman Hussaini Nadvi for which they had surveyed and photographed the cleric's residence and his two vehicles. They also kept track of his movements. 

They took photographs of locations at the Bara Imambara. Husain also told the NIA that the group surveyed various places in and around Lucknow to "fix the targets, to implement the sharia law, to have a jihad and to have bomb blasts and commit murder at fixed places" before "settling down in Arab or other countries."

The other two men who were arrested from Pipariya after the blast were Mohammed Danish and Atif Muzaffar. Saifullah, the fourth member of the group, was killed by the state's Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) in a gunfight after he had locked himself up in a house on the outskirts of Lucknow, the state's capital city.

The NIA began an investigation in the train blast incident on March 16 and also took into custody three of the seven arrested so far. The three men -- Husain, Atif and Danish -- will remain in the custody of the investigating body until March 27. Nine people were injured in the explosion that took place in the general coach of the train when it was running between Jabri and Kalapipal railway stations near Shujalpur on March 7.