Top Indian Mujahideen operative Yasin Bhatkal is known to have given the Indian agencies the slip in the past. But his arrest on the Indo-Nepal border on Thursday has left him stumped.
He has expressed surprise over his arrest, wondering exactly which move on his part gave his whereabouts away. “He said, ‘Mujhe pata nahi mujhse kaunsi galti hui, [I don’t understand where did I go wrong]’. He is himself surprised about how he got arrested,” authoritative sources told The Hindu on Friday.
Yasin along with another IM operative Asadullah Akhtar, who was brought to Patna from Motihari, East Champaran district, last on Thursday night, was taken to the Bihar Military Police (BMP) camp – a high security area in Patna. On Friday noon, he was flown to Delhi from Patna by a special flight. The Special Task Force, BMP and the local police were tasked with his security.
Officers from a number of agencies, namely the National Investigation Agency (NIA), Intelligence Bureau (IB), Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and the police interrogated him at the BMP camp.
Yasin is learnt to have referred to news reports in The Hindu from Mangalore on the communal activities of the Bajrang Dal.
“He spoke on the rise of communalism and mentioned the 2002 post-Godhra violence and what the people of his ‘kaum’ [community] had to go through. He also wandered off to spiritual and ideological talk. He has been cooperating with the investigation. He is relaxed and composed and has been answering all that is asked of him. But it would take a few days before he really starts telling investigators what they don’t know,” sources said.
Asked to describe his conduct, an NIA official said, “His conduct was okay.”
There is no conformation on whether he was quizzed on the Bodh Gaya blast, but the chief investigating officer for the Gaya case was part of the interrogation team.
In the Gaya case, the NIA currently has a huge body of technical data, but no real leads. Investigators are hopeful that Yasin’s arrest will provide some clues to back up the technical evidence.
“A lot data has been gathered through the DNA profiling of the articles found at the blast site. This evidence has to be tallied with Yasin’s interrogation,” an officer said.
In light of Yasin’s links in Bihar, officials underscored the pressing need to equip the Bihar police for gathering intelligence.
“We are good with investigation and interrogation, but we grossly lack the expertise to gather intelligence. In Bihar, especially with Naxalism and terrorism, it is very important. Although Bihar never had a terror strike before Bodh Gaya, our soil has been used in such attacks. After the Azamgarh module was busted, the Darbhanga module came up,” an officer said.
Another concern was the porous Indo-Nepal border, which is frequently used by terror operatives as a passage to Pakistan.