Usmani’s nephew who allegedly helped him escape also nabbed

Just over a month after his daring escape from the Mumbai sessions court in broad daylight, alleged Indian Mujahideen operative Afzal Usmani was nabbed on Sunday at Rupaidiha station in Bahraich district of Uttar Pradesh, a town located on the Indo-Nepal border.

Additional Director-General of Police, Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) Rakesh Maria said Usmani was trying to flee to Nepal when he was apprehended. The ATS has also arrested Javed Khan (19), nephew of Usmani, who allegedly helped him escape.

“Javed has been missing ever since Usmani’s escape. On October 25, through our informant network, we learnt that Javed was in Mumbai. We raided his house in Dharavi, a suburb in central Mumbai, and nabbed him. He broke down and gave us the whereabouts of Usmani. An ATS team was dispatched to Uttar Pradesh and Usmani was arrested the next day,” Mr. Maria told the press.

The police claim that Javed had come to Mumbai to take his mother along with him as he planned to settle down in Nepal.

“Usmani had indoctrinated Javed and he joined the Indian Mujahideen. Usmani had told Javed to meet him in Nepal after a week. Javed made up his mind to settle down in Nepal but was worried about his mother’s future and therefore came to Mumbai. It was probably this mistake that cost them dearly and helped us nab them,” an officer privy to the investigation told The Hindu.

The escape

The ATS said Usmani’s escape was unplanned. On September 20 at 2.10 p.m., when his escort went inside the court room to complete some paper work, Usmani, after realising that the other nine constables escorting the other accused weren’t paying any attention to him, took advantage of the situation and fled from the sessions court premises. It was only at 2.40 p.m. that the escort, Sanjay Deshmukh, realised that he had fled. By then Usmani had reached Sewree in South Mumbai where he met a relative and collected Rs. 600. Then he went to Dharavi where Javed stayed with his mother. Usmani took Rs. 5,000 from his sister and left with Javed, the ATS said.

Usmani got his beard shaved and threw his clothes into a gutter. The duo headed to Gujarat and then Bhopal. They halted at Indore, Jabalpur and finally reached Tatera, a small village in Uttar Pradesh. For the past 20 days, they had been staying at a niece’s house there. The police suspect Usmani received funds from someone. “He had only Rs. 5,000 with him when he started from Mumbai. When we arrested him, we recovered Rs. 1,000. We suspect he received funds possibly from IM men,” added the officer.

The ATS said he chose to live in Tatera because the village had no power supply and no television. The news of his escape did not reach Tatera and Usmani could plan to acquire a whole new identity. “He had applied for a motor-driving licence under a new identity – Wasim Saftar Khan,” added the officer.

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