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Yasin Bhatkal, aide in ATS custody till Feb 18

Officials believe Bhatkal can provide them with confidential details about IM’s modus operandi and its next targets, so that alerts can be issued beforehand

The Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) yesterday got custody of Indian Mujahideen (IM) co-founder Yasin Bhatkal and his aide Asadullah Akhtar till February 18. The National Investigating Agency (NIA) had arrested Bhatkal in August 2013, along the Indo-Nepal border, following which he was taken into custody by the Delhi police for investigation.

Yasin Bhatkal Asadullah Akhtar
Yasin Bhatkal and Asadullah Akhtar

Most wanted
A key member of the IM, Mohammed Ahmed Sidibapa alias Yasin Bhatkal was wanted for his involvement in the triple blasts at Zaveri Bazaar, Opera House and Dadar (West) on July 13, 2011, which killed 21 and injured 141.

Moreover, Bhatkal was also wanted in the German Bakery blast (2010), the Pune blasts (2012), a recce on the Nashik police academy and an attempt to blow up Dagdusheth Ganpati Temple in Pune. MiD DAY had reported on Bhatkal’s plan, which was thwarted by a flower vendor.

“We produced Yasin and Asadullah before special judge Y D Shinde in the special MCOCA court, which granted them police custody till February 18. Both were wanted in 13/7 blasts case,” said ATS chief Rakesh Maria.

Multiple leads
Another ATS officer said there were several cases the security agency wished to investigate. “We want to check Yasin’s role in the 13/7 blasts. He was the one who arranged the improvised explosive device (IED) for the blasts. Also, money was made available by him through Hawala,” he said.

Yasin was the most wanted terrorist on the NIA’s list and has visited Pakistan several times, where he received training in operating firearms. “He can give us a lot of details about IM’s modus operandi and its next targets,” the officer said.

Illegal detention
Yasin and Asadullah’s lawyers Sherif Shaikh and V D More told the court that their clients had been illegally detained by the ATS for one day, and both of them did not want to make any confession while in custody. The state has appointed special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam to represent itself in the case.

Background
Yasin Bhatkal, who hails from Bhatkal village of Udupi district in north Karnataka, was wanted in a string of terror attacks in Ahmedabad, Surat, Bangalore, Pune, Delhi and Hyderabad, the ATS said. Yasin was an active member of the IM and recruited youngsters from poor families in Bihar to carry out terror attacks in the city.

Rs 35 lakh
The reward Yasin Bhatkal had on his head

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