This was revealed during interrogation of Mahruf and Waqar

Interrogation of Mahruf and Waqar, two men in their early 20s arrested allegedly for being Indian Mujhahideen operatives, have revealed that both were once promising students with a good academic record and lost their way after coming in contact with extremists during their engineering days in Rajasthan.

A senior police officer on Thursday said both were indoctrinated by one Afif Bhatkal alias Mohammad Ata, IM’s founder member and chief recruiter based in Pakistan, and inducted into the Rajasthan Module of the banned outfit.

The IM targeted engineering students because they have a better understanding of the physio-chemical procedures involved in bomb-making.

The Delhi Police Special Cell had arrested the two along with a Pakistani — Zia Ur Rehman alias Waqas — last Saturday. Both Mahruf and Waqar were arrested from Jaipur, while another alleged IM operative Shaquib Ansari was arrested from Jodhpur on Waqas’ instance later.

“Waqas had scored 80 per cent marks in Class X and 75 per cent marks in Class XII. He wanted to study at the Indian Institute of Technology and even enrolled at a very reputed coaching institute at Kota in Rajasthan for one year. But after unsuccessfully attempting IIT and other major entrance exams, he took admission at a private college in mechanical engineering. He stayed in a rented room at Pratap Nagar along with Mehraj and Yaasar,” the officer said.

“Mahruf and Waqar were engineering students, while Shaquib was a computer expert. They were recently ‘recruited’ by Afif in that order as they completely fulfilled the ‘requirements’. Once they were ready, Riyaz Bhatkal instructed Tehsin Akhtar, IM’s India chief [arrested on Tuesday] to further train them in IEDs and other things,” the officer said.

Mahruf, too, was a high scorer. He had scored 94 per cent in high school and 81 per cent in higher secondary. He cleared a State-level pre-engineering test in Rajasthan in 2010 and got admission at a private college in Jaipur in computer science engineering.

“Both young men visited a mosque where people from a ‘Tablighi Jamat’ visited and persuaded the duo into joining hands with them.”

At one such Jamat, he met Mahruf and both of them became friends as they shared common interest in jihad. This came at the cost of their studies and by the time Waqar was arrested, he had 16 exams to write,” said the officer.

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