Yasin Bhatkal, co-founder of banned terror outfit Indian Mujahideen, wanted in around 40 blast cases and carrying a reward of R35 lakh, has been arrested from the Indo-Nepal border, in the second prize catch after LeT mastermind Abdul Karim Tunda in the last fortnight.
On the run for over five years in several countries including Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan, 30-year-old Yasin was nabbed in a joint operation by intelligence agencies and Bihar police. He was arrested along with another IM leader Asadulla Akhtar alias ‘Haddi’.
Yasin and Akhtar will be flown to Delhi on Friday in a special plane and formally handed over to NIA, a senior official said.
While Delhi and NIA had announced R10 lakh each, Mumbai police had announced R15 lakh to anyone giving information leading to Yasin’s arrest.
“Yasin Bhatkal was traced along the Bihar-Nepal border last night by our intelligence agencies. He is under the custody of Bihar police and his interrogation is going on,” Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde told reporters outside Parliament House on Thursday.
National security adviser Shivshankar Menon briefed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the arrest. Yasin was taken to Motihari in Bihar for being produced in a court for transit remand. He hit the spotlight after the 2008 Delhi serial blasts in which 30 people were killed. He was suspected to be the mastermind behind these five blasts.
During the probe, his role was traced back to 2004 as well for allegedly distributing explosive material from Karnataka. He is also suspected to have played an active role in the 2006 Mumbai serial train blasts that left 187 people dead.
Yasin, who hails from the Bhatkal village of Udupi district in north Karnataka, is wanted in a string of terror attacks in Ahmedabad, Surat, Bangalore, Pune, Delhi and Hyderabad. It is the second major breakthrough for Indian agencies after the arrest of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT)bomb expert Abdul Karim Tunda on August 16.
Yasin is also wanted in the German Bakery bomb blast in Pune on February 13, 2010.