New Delhi/Patna, Aug 29: Indian Mujahideen co-founder Yasin Bhatkal, wanted for a string of bombings in India, and another suspected terrorist have been arrested from the India-Nepal border, officials said Thursday.
This is the second big catch for Indian security agencies after the arrest of Abdul Karim Tunda, a key Lashkar-e-Taiba operative and expert bomb-maker, also from the India-Nepal border Aug 16.
Announcing the arrest of Bhatkal, one of India’s most wanted terrorists who was on the run for five years, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said: “Yasin Bhatkal has been arrested last (Wednesday) night.
“He is in the custody of Bihar Police and the interrogation is going on,” Shinde told reporters outside parliament.
He said Bhatkal, one of the founders of Indian Mujahideen, was arrested on the India-Nepal border.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was briefed by the minister about the arrest.
Hyderabad police chief Anurag Sharma identified the other suspected terrorist who was arrested as Asadullah Akhtar.
He said they will be examined by the Andhra Pradesh police about their involvement in Feb 21 blasts at Dilsukhnagar in Hyderabad that claimed 18 lives and injured scores.
Bihar Police officials said the operation to arrest Bhatkal was done in secrecy.
In his mid-30s, Bhatkal, also known as Mohammed Ahmed Mohammed Zarrar Siddhibappa, belongs to Bhatkal district in north Karnataka.
Police said he was involved in 11 bomb attacks across India including in New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Pune and Surat.
Bhatkal co-founded IM in 2008 along with his brothers Riaz and Iqbal and four others.
Bhatkal is also wanted for the German Bakery bomb blast in Pune Feb 13, 2010 that killed 17 people. The terror group was outlawed by the US as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation in 2011.
Bhatkal along with others were also said to be behind three coordinated bomb blasts at Opera House, Zaveri Bazaar and Dadar West in Mumbai July 13, 2011 that killed 27 people/
In 2011, Delhi Police announced a reward of Rs.15 lakh for information leading to the arrest of Bhatkal.
Similarly, the Maharashtra Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) had also earlier this year announced a Rs.10 lakh reward on him.
The terrorist, said to be responsible for IM activities across India, had married before the 2008 Delhi bomb attack.
Bihar Police chief Abhayanand said: “It was Bihar Police that mainly helped NIA (National Investigation Agency) and other government agencies to arrest Bhatkal.
“A team of Bihar Police officials have interrogated Bhatkal at a secret place after he was arrested,” he added.
East Champaran district Superintendent of Police Vinay Kumar said Bhatkal would be brought to Motihari from Raxaul under tight security before being taken to New Delhi.