Three years after the Batla House encounter, security agencies are still searching the whereabouts of key Indian Mujahideen (IM) leaders who escaped the Jamia Nagar flat that fateful day.
Arrested IM militant Salman alias Chhotu has told interrogators that Mohd Saif's elder brother Dr Shahnawaz Alam now heads the proscribed group, even as security agencies are suspecting remnants of IM to be behind the Mumbai (13/7) and the Delhi High Court blasts.
With nearly seven terror attacks unsolved since April 2010, the state police and the security agencies are keeping a close watch over associates of absconding IM militant Abdus Subhan Qureshi alias Tauqeer, as they believe that the recent terror attacks are the handiwork of at least two modules - one based in Mumbai and the other in the Varanasi-Azamgarh belt.
Qureshi, the main accused in the Ahmedabad 2008 serial blasts, was last sighted in Nepal and is said to be in Pakistan.
He was among the founding members of Indian Mujahideen, whose leader Atif Ameen was killed at Batla House.
Investigators had found out that the L-18 flat had housed around 10 IM members in the months preceding the encounter, who are currently in hiding, mostly in Pakistan or UAE.
Apart from Alam, Riyaz, Iqbal, Yasin, among the other wanted IM accused are Mirza Asadullah Akhtar, Mohammed Khalid, Aariz Khan, Shahzad Ahmed, Mohammed Sajid alias 'Bada' who is an explosives expert, Mirza Shadab Baig and Aamir Raza Khan.
Three years after the encounter, which according to claims of counter-terror officials was a defining moment in their fight against the IM as it broke its back, the Delhi police are yet to nab the module's 10 absconding operatives who have since formed the terror outfit's core operational leadership.
Among them, Alam is believed to have replaced Atif as the IM's operations chief and is reckoned to being a top confidante of its chief controllers Riyaz Ahmed Shahabandri.
According to revelations made by an arrested member of the Delhi-Azamgarh module, Salman Ahmed alias Chotu, Alam had allegedly stashed firearms and explosives at Nepalese safe house. "Shahnawaz operates from Dubai and Karachi, networking with IM's Azamgarh module," said a source.