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Mohammed Ahmed Siddibapa alias Yasin Bhatkal, who was wanted in over two dozen terror cases across India and had dodged security agencies on several occasions, was arrested in Raxaul on the India-Nepal border Thursday.
Also arrested with him was another wanted Indian Mujahideen operative Asadulla Akhtar alias Haddi, who was part of the Azamgarh module. The two, according to sources, were picked up on Wednesday night itself in a joint operation involving the Intelligence Bureau, the National Investigation Agency and the Bihar Police.
After the arrest, Bihar Additional Director General of Police (Headquarters) Ravindra Kumar said: “We had information that Yasin Bhatkal and Asadullah Haddi were going to some place in Raxaul to discuss terror plans. The joint team arrested the two at Nahar Chowk of Raxaul. As we had prior information about their presence in the area, an NIA team had reached Motihari and we had also formed a special team to carry out the joint operation.”
Bhatkal, it is learnt, had taken shelter in an IM hideout on the India-Nepal border. This area had first been identified by the Darbhanga module, of which Bhatkal was a key founder, and frequented by IM operatives in the past. Local madrasas that have mushroomed in the area are suspected to have given good cover to the likes of Bhatkal. He also had some knowledge of unani medicine and was known as a “jadi-buti wala doctor” among locals.
Yet, he was not one of those to leave much to chance. He wore a burqa each time he roamed the streets in the area and was always accompanied by people, assumed to be his security cover. While his interrogation has only just started, he is believed to have been in the India-Nepal border area for at least six months now.
The madrasa cover also helped him use his time to spot talent, a task at which he had begun to excel given that almost every IM module after 2007-08 had his imprint. In fact, he is wanted in almost every terror attack in the last six years. What he did successfully was to take advantage of jurisdictional issues among different state police forces to escape arrest.
As a result, he was caught and let off by the Kolkata Police in 2009