Mumbai: One of India’s most wanted men, Yasin Bhatkal, had planned and executed the deadly triple blasts that rocked Mumbai on July 13, 2011, the Maharashta Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), which cracked the case, said on Monday.
Announcing the breakthrough, ATS chief Rakesh Maria said, “Till date we have made two arrests in the blasts case - 22-year-old Naqi Ahmed; he is a resident of Deora Bhangoli village in Dharbhanga disctrict of Bihar but since Sep-Oct 2010, had come to Mumbai and lived in Madanpura area, and 23-year-old Nadim Akhtar; he was staying in Antop Hill.”
The ATS chief said that one more person Harron Yasin Naik has been arrested in connection with the case, though he was not directly involved in the crime and was instrumental in securing finances for the crime.
Detailing the sequence of events, Maria said, “Much has been written about the innocence of Naqi Ahmed. Naqi and Nadim are the two accused who had stolen the scooters used in the crime. In addition to the two scooters, they had also stolen two motorcycles for future use; we have recovered them from Dharbhanga. The accused Naqi Ahmed also provided SIM cards to the wanted accused.”
The ATS chief said that apart from the arrested, three more persons are wanted in the case. Maria chose to only name Indian Mujahideen kingpin Yasin Bhatkal as one among the three but identified the other two only as A and B.
“Wanted accused Yasin Bhatkal had given Naqi Ahmed Rs 1.5 lakh to aid and assist in the crime. The accused Nadim was called to Delhi by Yasin Bhatkal and was handed over a cloth packet to be given to accused Naqi for further handing over to the wanted accused in the case,” he revealed.
“This packet contained the explosives and detonators used in the commission of the crime. Accused Naqi assisted Yasin Bhatkal to get accommodation. He went around with Bhatkal, scouted for the accommodation, met estate agents, two or three rooms were rejected, ultimately the one at Byculla was finalised and the payment was made by Naqi Ahmed,” he added.
Maria said that wanted accused A and B had planted the bombs, while pointing out that the module which carried out the blasts had boys from Mumbai and Pune as well besides Dharbhanga.
Three bombs had gone off on that fateful day at Opera House, Zaveri Bazar and Kabootar Khana in Dadar killing 26 people and injuring over 100.
Importantly, Maria said, “Naqi knew the antecedents of Yasin Bhatkal. Bhatkal used to visit Naqi at Dharbhanga. We have independent witnesses to corroborate this… indoctrination was carried to induct young boys into the module created by Yasin Bhatkal.
On how the investigation into the case unfolded, the ATS chief said, “The investigation was handed over to ATS on July 18. During the course of investigation ATS teams have travelled to and made enquiries in 18 states in the country. Many of the states have been visited by the investigating team more than once.”
“Till date we examined 12,373 witnesses in the case. Immediately after the blast, the ATS went around the blast sites and we have analysed CCTV footage of close to 180 cameras at the blast sites. Success was achieved and we were able to pin-point the perpetrators of the crime. A lot of stress and importance was given to trace the financial trail of these blasts. We can now say that the financial trial of the blast has been fully covered. “
“Our teams visited 18 states and a lead was obtained by the ATS some time in the last week of November and our teams left on December 2 for Dharbhanga in Bihar and from then onwards the chase started,” Maria said while also making it a point to mention the names of police officers in various states who assisted in the probe.
Maria said that, ideally, the ATS would not had convened a press conference at this stage as the investigation is yet to be completed but was forced to do so. “There has been a lot of rumour-mongering which was eroding the credibility of the police and hence one was compelled to have this press conference today.”
He also scoffed off suggestion of any differences with the Special Cell of Delhi Police (as was reported in media).
“The person who is heading the Delhi Special Cell is my batchmate...see competition is there and it is good. That is how teams work; day and night work goes on. Please don’t waste time in saying that there is rivalry,” he quipped.
While wrapping up the press conference, Maria also released the latest picture of Yasin Bhatkal.