Sources reveal how a small-time convict from Kandivli went to Pakistan and pumped bullets into IM mastermind Riyaz Bhatkal
Even as the daring shootout that killed India's most wanted terrorist and chief of terror outfit Indian Mujahideen, Riyaz Bhatkal has thrown investigators into a huddle, the needle of suspicion points to a Mumbai assassin.
According to sources, the man identified as the shooter is a former convict affiliated to Mumbai's underworld.
Maharashtra's Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Rakesh Maria told MiD DAY that there is a delay in gathering details of the killing, and confirming facts. There are enough details though, Maria pointed out.
The identification of the shooters and the slain terrorists could be delayed as they could be carrying fake travel documents and living under assumed names in Dubai and later in Karachi.
Sources informed that the hireling is a contract killer from Kandivli, who was named in earlier supari hits. He jumped bail and was assigned the task to carry out the killings in Karachi. He is known to have worked as an informer in various gangs, and belongs to the lower rung of society.
Who did it?
While the grapevine is rife with rumours and theories surrounding the brains behind the murder, fingers are pointing at the involvement of the Chhota Rajan gang. Sources suggested that the kaam or job was outsourced through fugitive gangster Chhota Rajan, who is known for his desh bhakti banner.
The name of incarcerated gangster Babloo Srivastava has also emerged for his alleged role in providing logistic support to the death squad. While some sources pointed out that the operation could have been masterminded by Indian intelligence sources.
One theory doing the rounds is that the unnamed shooter was shown the two targets travelling in a Toyota near Karina Market in downtown Karachi by intelligence operatives. The shooter opened fire on the two men, who succumbed to their injuries in a nearby hospital.
Face of terror
Bhatkal has been the face of the Indian Mujahideen for the past seven years. He has been the mastermind of several blasts in the country including serial blasts in Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Jaipur and Bangalore. After his death, the IM will be forced to come up with a new commander to fill Bhatkal's shoes.
The contract killer appears to have slipped into Karachi via Nepal. The back-up team comprising of locals and porters from Nepal posed as carriers from Kathmandu carting items like kurtas and sherwanis to Karachi as a cover for their operation.
Underworld sources said Indian intelligence had earlier pulled of a similar operation by bumping off Dawood Ibrahim's key associate and Nepali Member of Parliament Mirza Dilshad Baig with the help of Rajan's henchmen Farid Tanasha and Balu Dokre at Kathmandu on June 7, 1998.
Rajan had earlier made dozens of attempts on the life of his former mentor Dawood Ibrahim with the help of his lieutenant Farid Tanasha.
The killer squad had to abort the operations due to the ISI security cover around Dawood. Some of the shooters in Tanasha's team include Bunty Pandey, Vicky Malhotra, Balu Dokre, Ejaz Lakdawala and Ejaz Pathan.
Kaam is the underworld lingo for a contract killing. It is a synonym to the term supari and is more commonly used by henchmen these days.