The political protection from Congress, Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) coupled with mass mobilisation in Azamgarh (UP) after the Batala House encounter led to four top Indian Mujahideen (IM) operatives escaping from the clutches of law in September 2008. These operatives, one of whom was later arrested by Delhi Police, went on to engineer several blasts. Dr Shahnawaz Alam, Mohammad Sazid alias BadaSazid, Abu Talib and Salman (a minor) – responsible for several blasts across the country – were held up in Sanjarpur (Azamgarh) for almost 9 months but police was not allowed by Mayawati Government (BSP) of Uttar Pradesh to go there and the quartet later fled to Dubai via Nepal.
In September 2008, Mumbai Crime Branch had busted an IM module by arresting 21 of its operatives in connection with multiple blasts in Ahmedabad (Gujarat). Shortly after this, the Batala House encounter took place in Delhi on September 19, 2008. At the time of encounter, Alam and Salman were in Lucknow (U.P.) while Abu Talib was in Azamgarh. Fearing that police was trailing them, all of them escaped to Sarai Mir village in Sanjarpur (Azamgarh) where they remain holed up in the house of Alam’s uncle. Within days BadaSazid joined them. The police who had got wind of their whereabouts, tried closing in on them.
However, the ruling BSP Government under the Chief Minister – Mayawati did not allow police to enter the village. “Thanks to politicians, no police team was allowed to enter that part of Azamgarh,” said a police officer who was a part of raiding team that camped 15 days near Azamgarh before beating a retreat empty-handed. According to the statement of Salman – after he was arrested by UP Police in 2010 – the four IM terrorists stayed there from September 2008 to May 2009. Later, they fled to Nepal where they stayed in a school, obtained Nepali passport and left for Dubai. In UAE, Dr Shahnawaz got a job in a laundry while Abu Talib started working for an ophthalmologist outlet, Neon. It was at Talib’s residence on Rey Road in Mumbai that explosives for the 7/11 train blasts were assembled. In Dubai, the quartet met Iqbal Bhatkal who sent Salman for training to Pakistan and then back to Nepal. U.P. Police arrested him in February 2010, days before German Bakery blasts at Pune (Maharashtra).
Who is Yasin Bhatkal?
Yasin Bhatkal, one of the most wanted terrorists of Bharatvarsh who is responsible for several bombings that have claimed over 140 lives, has been arrested. He is 30 years old. His real name is Ahmed Siddibappa. He was picked up from Pokhara (Nepal) where he was living in the guise of a Unani doctor. The successful operation of Intelligence Bureau (IB) yielded a bonus in the form of Asadullah Akhtar alias Haddi – an absconding front-ranking member of Azamgarh module of IM who had played a crucial role in 2011 serial bomb blasts in Mumbai.
With the police of different States on his trail, Yasin Bhatkal had made his base in Nepal. He would come to India only for plotting and perpetrating terror attacks. He had created the vast network of associates in the nearby Darbhanga district of Bihar which helped him stay away from India and yet operate efficiently. In the event, it was the success of IB in tracking one of his assets which led to the high-ranking fugitive.
The arrest of Yasin Bhatkal, who was carrying a reward of Rs. 10 Lakhs, is a major breakthrough for the Indian security establishment efforts to neutralize IM which overcome set backs inflicted by security agencies to resume terror campaign against India. Yasin who came from the same town Bhatkal in coastal Karnataka as two fugitive commanders of IM Riyaz and Iqbal, was at the forefront of the efforts to revive the terror outfit and would often go to the extent of personally participating in terror attack such as in German Bakery (Pune) and Chinnaswami Stadium (Bangalore) in 2010, Mumbai serial blasts in 2011, Jangali Maharaj Road blast (Pune) in 2012 and twin blasts in (Dilshuknagar) Hyderabad in 2013.
Besides being good at making improvised explosive devices (IEDs), Yasin also radicalised and recruited several youths particularly from Darbhanga region (Bihar) obviously to strengthen Darbhanga Module. He used ‘Shahrukh’ as one of his aliases (this created problems for SRK in his overseas travels). A qualified engineer, who belongs to a well off family in Bhatkal, Karnataka. Left home in 2010 after a fight. Grew close to SIMI (Students Islamic Movement of India) member Riaz Shahbandri (Riaz Bhatkal) and his brother Iqbal. Believing SIMI to be too soft, trio broke away to set up IM with ISI backing.
Ace recruiter and bomb maker Yasin Bhatkal led IM operations in Bharatvarshafter others found safe sanctuary in Pakistan or eliminated by Bharatiya security forces.
How was he nabbed?
IB, RAW and other agencies arrested Bhatkal at Sonauli border of Nepal near Gorakhpur. IB tracked his calls for six months. Special teams were camping in Bihar’s Darbhanga for some time following IB and RAW leads. He was nabbed while crossing border with another IM terrorist, Asadullah Akhatar alias Haddi. Earlier Bhatkal had slipped through police dragnet 6 times – in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad and Karnataka including escaping from Batala House before raid.
While there is no guarantee that this will put an end to IM attacks it is certainly one of the biggest terrorist catche. Bhatkal is arguably bigger than Kasab. Kasab was a foot soldier, Bhatkal is a recruiter and mastermind of attacks. His arrest is a blow to IM as Bhatkal could provide key informations regarding both domestic and Pakistani terror operations, sleeper cells and modules, commanders and Pakistani handlers. He played major role in raising IM’s Darbhanga module. Though a late addition to the IM’s unity, the Darbhanga module soon gained importance with its members like Qateel Siddiqui, Mohammad Adil and Gayur Jamali participating in terror attacks across the country.Yasin guided the cops to Asadullah Haddi – son of an influential doctor from Azamgarh who played a key role in rallying clerics against the Batala House encounter and arrests of terror suspects. Haddi was living in the guise of Daniyal.
Azamgarh boys as IM terrorists
Mohammed Saif – the son of a Samajwadi Party leader Sadab Ahmed, was arrested from Azamgarh while two hostiles managed to flee by possibly jumping the roof tops. All the suspects were from Azamgarh’s Sarai Mir town. They claimed to be the students of Jamia Millia, New Delhi. Atif – a student of Jamia Milia was the leader of a group of 14 student terrorists of Jamia Milia from Azamgarh. They are – Atif (24), Sajid alias Pankaj (19) (both now dead), Shahjad alias Pappu (22), Junaid (27), Shahdab Bhai alias Mallick (27), Sajid (24), Mohammed Khalid (25), Arif (22), Shakil (26), Zia Khan (24), Salman (25), Zeeshan (24), Mohammad Saif (23) and Zeeshan Jawed (25). It is said that these young Muslim men from Azamgarh are recruiting Muslim students in various colleges, universities and coaching centres as an activist of love jehad to net Hindu girls.
Obviously, Azamgarh is in making of mini-Pakistan in eastern UP and Azamgarh module of IM is coordinating its Darbhanga and Ranchi modules with presumably an active support of Akhilesh government for Muslim vote bank.