Investigations into the 13/7 Mumbai serial blasts has led government agencies to Haryana’s Mewat district, known as the birthplace of the Tabhligi Jamaat religious movement. It is learnt that some of the most wanted terrorists in the country have used the district, about two hours’ drive from Delhi, as a safe haven or a transit point.
During the interrogation, arrested Indian Mujahideen (IM) operatives have disclosed that top IM terrorists Riyaz Bhatkal and Haroon Rashid Abdul Hamid Naik had stayed at Mewat to escape arrest. Ahmad Zarar Siddibappa, alias Yasin Bhatkal, too, has narrowed down on the district, police sources said.
Yasin had stayed in the district after his cover in Darbhanga and Delhi was busted by the Delhi police special cell along with the Intelligence Bureau (IB), added police sources.
Mewat has been the place where most top Indian Mujahideen terrorists have sought refuge after they conducted the blasts at Varanasi in 2006, and Jaipur and Delhi in 2008.
Police sources said Riyaz’s presence was last reported in 2008, after which he crossed over to Pakistan. Apart from the district’s proximity to the Capital, the area is on National Highway No 71-B and provides connectivity to West Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
The interrogation of recently arrested Indian Mujahideen operatives in Delhi and Mumbai has revealed that Mewat has been carved out as a safe haven or a transit point for terrorists to escape from the prying eyes of counter-terrorism units, said sources in the IB.
Mewat also features in the plan that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Bangladesh’s director general of forces intelligence (DGFI) have fostered to divide India and form ‘Mughalistan’, police sources added.
The neglect that Mewat has faced in terms of development has been cashed in on by the IM terrorists, who have found it easy to mingle with local criminals, wanted for murder, robbery, dacoity and vehicle thefts, according to police sources.
Policing the district has been a tough proposition, and Mewat police has even asked assistance from citizens to track the criminals.
“They keep changes (sic) movements regularly and wander in small areas whenever they get a chance, They commit the crime in nearby districts,” reads the Mewat police website.
“A closer look at their plan has revealed that the rival agencies have carefully earmarked regions favourable for them in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Delhi, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala,” said a senior police officer with a counter-terrorism unit, requesting anonymity.
The 13/7 Mumbai bombings, which took place in the evening on July 13, 2011, had claimed 26 lives.