New Delhi/ Motihari (Bihar): One of India's most wanted and Indian Mujahideen co-founder Muhammad Ahmad Zarar Siddibapa alias Yasin Bhatkal during his interrogation in Motihari has said that he does not regret carrying out terror attacks in India, according to police sources.
Bhatkal was arrested from the India-Nepal border along with his close aide Asadullah Akhtar alias Haddi. Bhatkal, the head of Indian Mujahideen's operations in India, is the key suspect in the Pune German Bakery and Hyderabad Dilsukhnagar blasts.
A court in Motihari granted three days transit remand of two top IM operatives. The remand was granted after NIA produced the two in the court of CJM. The two were brought to the court amid tight security after prolonged interrogation by Bihar Police and NIA team.
Bhatkal arrest is one of the most significant operations by security agencies in recent years with sources saying it was jointly carried out by the top Indian intelligence agencies - Intelligence Bureau, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and Bihar Police. After the Dilsukhnagar blasts in Hyderabad on February 21, 2013, the Intelligence Bureau was trailing him. After six months of technical surveillance, the officials found that he was on the India-Nepal border in Bihar and had been meeting his aides regularly.
Bihar Police officers were then taken into confidence and the plan to corner and arrest him was made. Bhatkal and Akhtar, wanted in the 2011 Mumbai bombings and the Pune serial blasts of 2012, were finally arrested from Bharatpur near Raxaul which lies on the India-Nepal border in Bihar at around 5 pm on Wednesday evening.
Bhatkal and Akhtar were reportedly living near the India-Nepal border disguised as a homoeopathic doctor. They were also running a homoeopathic clinic in the area.
The team which actually arrested Bhatkal and Akhtar was led by Motihari Superintendent of Police Vinay Kumar, who stayed in the area for five days and carried out the reconnaissance.
"NIA and state governments had offered a reward for finding Yasin Bhatkal and Asadullah Akhtar. There is a possibility that these people were involved in the Bodh Gaya blasts as well. The modus operandi is similar," said Kumar.
Bhatkal and Akhtar were brought to Bettiah in the West Champaran district of Bihar at around midnight and then to Motihari in East Champaran district where they were kept at the police lines. Both Bhatkal and Akhtar have been handed over to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and will be presented in a Motihari court.
Since the two are a huge catch, so the Ministry of Home Affairs will send a special aircraft on Friday morning to bring then to Delhi.
"Yasin Bhatkal has been arrested with the help of our intelligence agencies and is right now being interrogated by the Bihar Police," said Sushil Kumar Shinde in New Delhi. His deputy RPN Singh added that Bhatkal's arrest will send out a strong message to other terrorists who are still roaming free.
"I must say that this government is completely intolerant about terrorism. We are on search of other terrorist also. We will not rest until all terrorist are arrested. We are committed towards it, to send a strong message to the people of this nation," said Singh.
To make sure that the man they have arrested is Yasin Bhatkal, security agencies have decided to collect the DNA of his family members and match them with his samples.
Bhatkal's arrest is very crucial as he was on the hit-list of the all the major security agencies and police forces of the country. According to security experts, Bhatkal's free run so far was foremost the lack of a national database on criminals or terror suspects.
Along with the arrest of Abdul Karim Tunda, a key Lashkar-e-Toiba bomb maker, the security agencies have managed to deal a major blow to anti-India terror groups backed by Pakistan in recent weeks.
Bhatkal hails from Uttara Kannada district in Karnataka. The 30-year-old Bhatkal co-founded the Indian Mujahideen in 2008 with his brothers Riaz Bhatkal and Abdul Subhan Qureshi.
He was on the NIA Most Wanted list and security agencies had been looking for him from the past five years. He is the only top Indian Mujahideen operative who decided to stay back in the country after the crackdown on the outfit after refusing an offer made by his brothers Riaz and Iqbal Bhatkal to flee to Pakistan.
He is considered to be extremely motivated and highly trained, He has Bachelor's degree in engineering from Anjuman Hami-e-Muslimeen, Bhatkal and used his knowledge to develop bombs for Indian Mujahideen. He also has a master's degree in Computer Engineering from Bangalore.
He is alleged to have been involved in the 2010 Pune Gernam Bakery blast in which 17 people were killed and is suspected to the person who actually planted the explosives. He was caught on CCTV trying to conceal his identity by wearing a cap.
He had earlier been arrested in 2008 by the West Bengal Police, but he managed to get bail as the officials were not aware that they have caught a dreaded terrorist.
Akhtar is around 28 years old and hails from Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh. He allegedly operated with the aliases of Tabrez, Shakir and Danial and is in the top 10 of the NIA most wanted list.
The Indian Mujahideen came into being after the ban on Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI).