The Uttar Pradesh Police arrested two operatives of the Al Qaeda-linked Ansar Ghazwatul Hind. The Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) said that the two arrested men – Minhaz Ahmed and Maseeruddin – were planning explosions, including using “human bombs” at several places in state.

While Ahmed is a resident of Lucknow’s Dubagga area, Maseeruddin lived in Madiyaon area of the Uttar Pradesh capital, said the police. A huge amount of explosive was seized from their houses, Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar told reporters.

They were planning to “unleash terror activities before August 15 (Independence Day) in different cities of the state, including Lucknow,” Kumar said. According to the police official, members of this module are not only from Lucknow, but also from Kanpur in the state.

The accused were working on the instructions of Umar Halmandi, the head of the Uttar Pradesh module of Al-Qaeda, the ADGP added.

The ATS is conducting raids at different places to catch the associates of the two terrorists, who escaped before Ahmed and Maseeruddin were arrested.

Ahmed’s father runs a motor workshop in the area where the family lives; they have been staying there for the past 15 years, said a policeman on condition of anonymity. Incriminating material, including two semi-prepared IED-based pressure cooker bombs, explosive materials and a pistol was recovered by the ATS form the house, which has now been sealed.

The police have intensified checking at all vital installations in Uttar Pradesh, including airports. Checking at highways and bus stations has been intensified.