As the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS), went public with their claim of cracking 13/7 blasts in Mumbai, with the arrest of two men, the Delhi Police and intelligence officials said they were ‘small fry’ and only ‘peripheral’ to the blasts.
“The ATS’ is a peripheral catch. At least we were able to reduce the IM’s national network — something that will take years’ work to re-establish,” said a Delhi Police official.
Meanwhile, the bigger fish, Yasin Bhatkal alias Shahrukh, is on the run — a fact that both the Delhi Police and ATS accept.
Intelligence sources said their case was botched-up the moment Naquee was picked up by Mumbai police for questioning. “We have seen the press conference (where the claim of solving the blasts was made) coming,” an intelligence official said.
Government sources said the police in the two states had brought the controversy over Naquee’s arrest to the home ministry's attention. “A senior IB officer was sent to Mumbai to resolve the problem but it didn’t help,” a source added, pointing that the issue had been discussed with senior police officers too.
Attempts would be made to get security agencies to raise the bar to ensure that such incidents did not happen again due to lack of cooperation.
“The trio were on our radar since November — we have call details and other records to show exactly why we put their flat in Habib Building under watch as early as December 10. If the ATS was so close to them, why did they swing into action only around January 5?” the officer said.
Mumbai police had told the central intelligence agency, they were on Naquee’s trail independently and had kept him under physical surveillance before they got the authorisation to tap his phone.