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How ATS trapped IM operative Afzal Usmani while he was trying to escape the country

Over a month after embarrassing the Mumbai police force, the Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) rearrested fugitive Indian Mujahideen (IM) operative Afzal Mutalik Usmani on Sunday morning. Usmani had fled from the Sessions Court on September 20, when he was brought to court for a hearing.

The police said that he was aided by his nephew Javed Noor ul Hasan in escaping from Mumbai. Usmani had shaved off his heavy beard and moustache and was in the process of changing his identity with the help of fake documents. He had already applied for a driving licence in the name of Wasim Sattar Khan, and was planning to cross the border into Nepal when he was nabbed.


In the net: Suspected Indian Mujahideen operative Afzal Usmani, who had escaped from custody on September 20, was rearrested from the Indo-Nepal border on October 27. His nephew Javed Noor ul Hasan was also arrested for aiding the fugitive. The duo was produced in Sewree court and remanded to police custody till November 6

Usmani (38), who hails from Sangarpur village in Uttar Pradesh’s Azamgarh district, was a hotelier in Mumbai and was arrested by the ATS in 2008 for allegedly stealing cars that were later used in serial blasts in Ahmedabad, Surat and Jaipur.

He managed to slip out of custody by foxing the police escort team from the Sessions court on September 20. A case was registered in the Colaba police station and a thorough search was started for Usmani. The Colaba police, the Mumbai crime branch and the Maharashtra ATS team were working together to hunt for Usmani. 

First clue
The police had learnt that after fleeing from the court, Usmani had borrowed Rs 600 from a tea vendor in Sewri. The tea vendor was called in for questioning and the cops began checking on all the close relatives of Usmani.

“We had learnt that 19-year-old Javed Noor ul Hasan Khan, who is the nephew of Usmani, was missing from his residence in Dharavi since the time Usmani fled,” said Rakesh Maria, chief of Maharashtra ATS.

A team comprising ACP Mangesh Pote and police inspector Dinesh Kadam was working on the case. Kadam had arrested Usmani in 2008 and was well aware of most of his hideouts.

“Our team learnt that Usmani’s nephew Javed was returning to collect some documents that he had left back at his house in Dharavi. Accordingly we managed to intercept Javed at Kurla on October 25,” said Maria.

During interrogation, the police learnt that Usmani was hiding at his niece’s house in a village named Tatera in Bahraich district in Uttar Pradesh.

Gulf-returned
Usmani had sought refuge in his niece’s village by telling the relatives that he had returned after a long stay in Saudi Arabia, and that he would return after a short vacation. “Usmani had told the villagers in Tatera that he had returned from Saudi Arabia and was going to stay in the village for some time and then return to Saudi. When Javed did not return from Mumbai, Usmani got suspicious and decided to flee. He went to Rupadia station, which is on the Indo-Nepal border, and was about to flee when he was nabbed,” said Maria.  The ATS picked up Usmani on October 27 around 3.30 am with the help of UP police and has also arrested Javed who helped Usmani flee. The police have got the custody of both the accused till November 6 and more relatives of Usmani who helped him hide may be arrested, said the ATS. 

Escape route


After fooling his guards, Afzal Usmani managed to escape from Sessions court on September 20


He took a taxi to Sewri where he borrowed Rs 600 from Akmal Khan, a tea vendor 


He then called his nephew Javed and asked him to meet him at the Azad Nagar slums in Dharavi. Javed brought Rs 5,000 in cash and handed it over to Usmani 


Usmani sat under a tree and had his thick beard and heavy moustache shaved by a barber  
In his new clean-shaved avatar, Usmani caught a BEST bus and headed for Santacruz.


From Santacruz, he went to Borivli railway station and caught a train to Surat

As soon as he reached Surat, he switched trains and headed for Indore

From Indore, he went to Bhopal and then to Jabalpur

He finally reached his niece’s village Tatera in Bahraich district and settled down

Usmani told the villagers that he had come on a vacation from Saudi Arabia and would return shortly

In the village he applied for a driving licence under the name of Wasim Sattar Khan 


Javed returned to Mumbai to fetch some documents that Usmani needed for his escape

The ATS apprehended Javed at Kurla, and during interrogation Javed revealed Usmani’s hideout


When Javed did not return to the village or return his calls, Usmani got suspicious and decided to flee


He went to Rupadia station and just as he was to escape, he was caught by the ATS.  Illustrration Amit Bandre

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