The big botch-up
Toral Varia Deshpande
reveals how rivalry
agencies helped India's
At one of the blast sites of the July 13, 2011 terrorist attack in Mumbai
India's most wanted men and Indian Mujahideen founders Riyaz Shahban- dri, Iqbal Shahbandri and Yasin
Ahmed Siddibappa have eluded arrest at
least three times, due to repeated blunders
by Indian investigating agencies and state
In December 2011, the Delhi police's
special cell arrested seven alleged Indian
Mujahideen men in a pan-India opera-
tion. Interrogations revealed that Yasin
was active in India.
His name surfaced in investigations that
followed the blasts at Bangalore's
Chinnaswamy stadium and Pune's
German Bakery in 2010, and the 2011
Delhi high court and Mumbai blasts.
Inter-agency rivalry between investigating agencies has
surfaced as one of the main reasons for India's most wanted men still being at large.
Immediately after the 2008 Gujarat serial blasts, the
state Anti Terrorist Squad was close to nabbing Yasin and
was tracking an informant who would lead to him, but a
clueless Maharashtra ATS arrested the informant, leading
to a premature abortion of the operation.
In December 2009, Yasin was arrested by the West
Bengal police in a fake currency case and remained in jail
till February 2010. He was let off since the state police had
no substantial information on him.
Early this year too, a botch-up between the Maharashtra
ATS and the Delhi police's special cell provided Yasin with
an opportunity to slip away.
December 12, 2011, the Delhi police's special cell arrived
in Mumbai armed with credible information and began
covert operations in south Mumbai's
The Maharashtra ATS, already under
pressure and criticism for being unable to
secure a solid breakthrough in the July 13,
2011 Mumbai blasts, was getting edgy. As
a result instead of joining hands with the
Delhi police, it started operating inde-
"What's worse is that it scuttled the
Delhi police's operation and we lost a
golden opportunity to arrest Yasin
Bhatkal," a source from one of the investi-
gating agencies said. "They even went
ahead and ruined the operation by arrest-
ing our baits, thus alerting the culprits."
The Delhi police special cell secured
credible information about Yasin from
Gayur Ahmad Jamil, one of the seven
Indian Mujahideen operatives arrested
last year. Gayyur, accused of playing a key
role in Bangalore's Chinnaswamy
Stadium blast, is said to have led the spe-
cial cell to Mohammad Naqi.
"In his interrogation Gayyur said that
Naqi was in touch with the Bhatkals and
knew them closely," said a source.
Most-wanted Shah Rukh Khan
Indian investigators have
discovered that Indian Muja-
hideen leaders have been
using the alias Shah Rukh
Khan to confuse the police
and keep their identities hid-
The name was first used by
Indian Mujahideen leader
Riyaz Bhatkal. During other
meetings, the same alias was
used by his brother Iqbal and
operatives picked up by the
Delhi police revealed that
Yasin also used the same
name very often.
A senior police officer said
lower-level operatives, who
met with these men, never
knew which of the Bhatkals
they were meeting as each
introduced himself as Shah
Khan in Udupi, Karnataka.
This time, it was Yasin who
used the alias
The police revealed Yasin
handled the Pune and Delhi
modules of the IM while
Riyaz handled Karnataka
and Kerala. Iqbal was
focused on the Hyderabad
module. They only met with
members of their modules.
By the time the police dis-
covered that Riyaz used the
alias Shah Rukh Khan, he
had fled to Pakistan.
Meetings thereafter with a
man named Shah Rukh Khan
were with Yasin, who is still