On Thursday, hours after Yasin Bhatkal was arrested, the Bihar police and the National Investigation Agency were lauded for their efforts. However, Bhatkal who was unknown till 2008 came on the officials’ radar during the investigations by inspectors Arun Chavan and Nandkumar Gopale from the city’s Property Cell.
In October 2008, Yasin’s name first cropped up after the officials arrested 20 members belonging to the Indian Mujahideen (IM). It was only during interrogations that one of the arrested mentioned how Yasin had been imparting training to Muslim youths at a farmhouse in Kopa, Mangalore.
Abu Bakar, one of the accused, confessed that he met Yasin in 2007 in Dubai through IM co-founder Riyaz Bhatkal. It was over there that he was offered the job of being the caretaker of the farmhouse.
Besides being the caretaker, Bakar revealed that he was also responsible for transporting fresh recruits to the farmhouse where they were trained by Yasin in the teaching of jihad. Yasin used to impart training of firearms and how to build explosives to the youth at the farmhouse, said officials.
Following the information, the officials carried out a raid at the farmhouse. Chavan, who is now senior police inspector at Santacruz station, said, “Our team raided the Mangalore farmhouse, but Yasin and Riyaz and another operative by the name of Iqbal Bhatkal fled to Bangalore and then to a undisclosed location.”
Birth of Indian Mujahideen
In 2008, Riyaz Bhatkal, his brother Iqbal, Yasin and Sadiq Shaikh decided to form a separate a module. “Initially they thought of naming the module as Isaba (means battalion in Arabic) or Furqan (differentiate between good and evil in Arabic) but finally they zeroed in on Indian Mujahideen,” an officer from the ATS.
Bhatkal’s bloody trail of terror
Hyderabad: On August 25, 2007, at least 42 people died when two blasts occurred at Lumbini Amusement Park and then five minutes later at a popular eatery called Gokul Chaat Bandar. Police claim that it was Yasin’s brother Riyaz that planted the bomb at Gokul Chat.
Jaipur: The Pink City was targeted by the IM for the first time ever in the form of nine synchronised low-intensity blasts on May 13, 2008. One of the bombs went off near Jaipur’s most famous landmark, the historic Hawa Mahal. The blasts were planted in tiffin carriers. Following the explosions, the IM came forward and claimed to be responsible for it. In an email, the IM said they would ‘demolish the faith of the infidels of India.’
Ahmedabad: On July 26, 2008, within a span of 70 minutes, 21 explosions ripped across Ahmedabad claiming 56 lives. The Indian Mujahideen claimed responsibility for the blasts saying that many innocent Muslims were languishing in jail following the 2006 Mumbai blasts. The explosions were planted in tiffin carriers on bicycles, a pattern similar to the May 13 2008, Jaipur bombings.
Delhi: Five synchronised bomb blasts took place within a span of few minutes on September 13, 2008 at various locations in Delhi. In an e-mail to media houses, the IM that had earlier also claimed responsibility for the Jaipur and Ahmedabad blasts, said, “Indian Mujahideen strikes back once more. Within 5 minutes from now... This time with the Message of Death, dreadfully terrorising you for your sins,” the chilling note said.
Pune: On February 13, 2010 a blast ripped through the famous German Bakery in Pune, killing 17 and injuring another 60 people. Following the blast, NIA investigations revealed that Yasin Bhatkal, co-founder of the Indian Mujahideen, was behind the blasts. CCTV footage showed Bhatkal, wearing a cap to cover his face, planting the bomb at the site.
Bangalore: Two bombs exploded in a heavily packed Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore on April 17, 2010 injuring 15 people, including five security men. A third bomb was found and diffused outside the stadium. The Bangalore police said Bhatkal played a big role in the blasts.
Mumbai: On July 13, 2011, Mumbai was left shattered after three coordinated bomb explosions took place at Dadar, Zaveri Bazaar and Opera House. The blasts left 27 dead and 130 people injured. Bhatkal was alleged to be the main mastermind behind the blasts. Rakesh Maria, ATS chief had after the blasts arrested Naqi Ahmed Sheikh and 23-year-old Nadeem Akthar Sheikh for aiding and abetting in the explosions. Investigations exposed that Naqi became friends with Bhatkal around 2008 and that Naqi had stolen the bikes that were used in the blasts at Zaveri Bazaar. Additionally, financial transactions revealed, “Bhatkal had given Naqi Rs 1.5 lakh to aid, assist and abet,” said Maria.
Hyderabad: On February 21, 2013, around 7 pm, twin blasts occurred in Dilsukhnagar, Hyderabad. The bombs were attached to two bicycles about 150 metres away from each other. One suspected IM operative had allegedly in July 2012 recced Dilsukhnagar area. According to the NIA, the blasts took place on the alleged instructions of IM’s Pakistan-based founder Riyaz Bhatkal.