These are certainly good times for our security agencies. Close on the heels of the arrest of a key Lashkar-e-Toiba operative, Abdul Karim Tunda, and 26/11 Mumbai attack conspirator, Abu Jundal, Indian Mujahideen’s top operative Yasin Bhatkal was arrested near the Indo-Nepal border on August 28. Just as Tunda has been spilling the beans on LeT’s modus operandi in India and has been giving credence to the involvement of Pakistan in cross-border terrorism, Bhatkal’s arrest will also help the security agencies solve the trail of terror that the IM is accused of unleashing on Indian soil for years now.
Yes, the 30-year old co-founder of IM is a big fish and his arrest is definitely a major blow to the operations of the terror outfit in India. Considered highly motivated, it is said that Bhatkal used to personally monitor and plan every terror attack in the country by the IM. For example, he was reported to have been present in the area prior to the twin blasts in Dilsukhnagar in Hyderabad earlier this year.
He is also said to be the inspiration behind the outfit. In fact, his commitment level to wage war against India can be gauged from the fact that after the crackdown on IM by the security agencies, Bhatkal refused to leave for Pakistan and chose to stay back in India, despite being one of the most wanted men. On the other hand, the co-founders of IM and Yasin’s brothers, Riaz Bhatkal and Iqbal Bhatkal, fled to Pakistan and are said to have been operating from there.
What made Yasin dangerous was the fact that he was highly trained, holding a Bachelor`s degree in engineering and Master`s degree in Computer Engineering, the knowledge of which he is said to have used for developing bombs. He was also actively involved in organising funds and recruiting people for the IM.
Thus, with the key driving force behind the operations of IM in India in their net, the security agencies will now be hoping that Bhatkal’s arrest leads to the disintegration of the organisation itself. This can happen if Bhatkal spills the beans with regards to the source of funds for IM, its network, sleeper cells, sympathisers, foot soldiers, the modus operandi for recruitment and the connection between IM, LeT and Pakistan.
If Bhatkal provides this minefield of information and if the security agencies act in a swift manner, then they may just be able to break the backbone of the terror organisation which has been spreading mindless mayhem and bloodshed in India; which is considered the first home-grown terror outfit; and which was banned and designated a terrorist group by the government under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act in June, 2010.
The list of the blasts case that Bhatkal is alleged to have to have been involved in is a long one - explosion outside the Delhi High Court on September 7, 2011 in which 12 people were killed, 2010 Pune`s German Bakery blast case in which 17 people were killed, 2010 Chinnaswamy stadium blasts in Bangalore, July 2006 Mumbai train bombings, Delhi serial blasts (2008), Ahmedabad blasts (2008), Surat blast (2008), Jaipur (2008), Dashashwamedh Ghat in Varanasi (2010), Mumbai (2011), twin bomb blasts case in Dilshuknagar, Hyderabad earlier this year and blasts in Bodh Gaya on July 07, 2013. Given the above scenario, Bhatkal’s interrogation will also shed light on how these blasts were carried out and who else were involved in them, possibly leading to their arrest and finally the closure of many of the terror cases, which have remained unsolved till now.
Also, just as the revelations by Jundal and Tunda have done, Bhatkal’s arrest too will help India strengthen its case against neighbour Pakistan and the support that ISI and its Army give to terror organisations and so-called ‘non-state actors` to destabilise India. One of the most comprehensive and well-researched books on home grown terror and Pakistan’s links with IM written by Shishir Gupta in 2011- ‘Indian Mujahideen: The enemy within’ – clearly reveals the involvement of ISI, Lashkar-e-Toiba and al Qaeda leadership and the role of ‘Karachi Project’ behind the rise and backing of IM in India. However, knowing Pakistan and its hackneyed reactions, whenever they are caught on the wrong foot, they will once again deny anything to do with the terror outfit. But, India must keep up the pressure and tell Pakistan without mincing words that dialogue and cross-border terrorism cannot go hand-in-hand.
One must say that the security agencies must be applauded for their prize catch. But the flip side of the coin is that they have to be prepared for a long haul if the IM`s network has to be broken completely. For this a proper coordination between various agencies and the Centre and state governments is a must.
Post Script: While he was being interrogated in Bihar after being arrested Bhatkal apparently told the security men present there - "Bomb blast karta hu message dene ke liye” (I carry out bomb blasts to send a message). Well, now it is the turn of the government and our agencies to send out a message to the perpetrators of terror that those who wage a war against India will be hunted down and that the lives of hundreds of innocent men, women and children lost in terror attacks will not go unaccounted for.