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IM operatives wanted to bomb Wankhede during IPL

But watertight security forced them to drop the plan, reveals Yasin Bhatkal during police interrogation

The state Anti-Terrorism Squad’s (ATS) interrogations of alleged Indian Mujahideen (IM) cofounder have revealed that two IM operatives had reconnoitered Wankhede Stadium during the Indian Premier League matches in 2011. They wanted to blow up the stadium but airtight security on and around the premises forced them to drop the plan, the officials revealed.

Fans enjoying the Mumbai Indians-Pune Warriors match at Wankhede in 2011. Pic/Suresh KK
Fans enjoying the Mumbai Indians-Pune Warriors match at Wankhede in 2011. Pic/Suresh KK

The terror group’s cofounder Yasin Bhatkal told ATS cops that Asadullah Akthar alias Haddi alias Tabrez, who is also in their custody, and alleged Pakistani national Waqas Shaikh, who is wanted, had recced the stadium in south Mumbai. They bought tickets and watched the Mumbai Indians versus Pune Warriors match on April 20, 2011 at the stadium.

Two days later, the duo did another recce from outside the stadium premises, when a Mumbai Indians v/s Chennai Super Kings match was going on. “They, however, reached the conclusion that security at the stadium was up to the mark and it was difficult to enter the stadium with a bomb. So they dropped the plan,” said an ATS officer.

On Wednesday, Bhatkal and his aide Akhtar were arrested by the ATS in connection with the 13/7 serial explosions that rocked the city in 2011. They had been brought to the city from New Delhi. The two were produced before a MCOCA court on Thursday, which remanded them in ATS custody till February 18.

The terrorists had also recced beaches in Goa and Juhu to target foreigners, but Waqas apparently took ill and the bombing plan had to be scrapped. Calls and messages to Maharashtra ATS chief Rakesh Maria failed to elicit a response.

After blasts, Yasin fled city
After the 13/7 blasts, accused Yasin Bhatkal fled the city. “Yasin and one of his aides, Tehsin Shaikh, kept a bomb at Dadar bus stop. They also wanted to keep one under the police van, but since they didn’t find one parked outside Dadar station, they kept it in a dustbin and fled to Bihar, said source in ATS. “Bhatkal and Akhtar have been trained in Pakistan for carrying out bomb blasts in the city. They went to Pakistan via Bangladesh, Dubai and Karachi.”

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