The Bihar Police's ‘disinterest’ in seeking remand of top Indian Mujahideen (IM) operative Yasin Bhatkal and his associate Asadullah Akhtar despite Bhatkal’s links to Darbhanga-Samastipur region in the state has come under intense scrutiny.
After participating in a joint operation with the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to arrest the duo, the Bihar Police handed them over to the NIA. They were flown to Delhi on Friday morning in a special BSF plane.
There was speculation that the decision was either based on orders from above that Bhatkal should not be held on Bihar soil ‘longer than absolutely necessary’ or that the police was ticked off for initially claiming ‘big success’ after the arrest.
After the initial ebullience, a much subdued Bihar DGP Abhayanand, who goes by one name, later refused to give any details about the operation on Thursday.
On Friday, he said, “The arrests were the outcome of a joint operation between the central and state forces. We have also played a role in the arrests. Sometimes, we meet with success, sometimes not.” He refused to answer any questions based on “speculations”.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, an Intelligence Bureau (IB) official said, "The state government seemed to be in an undue haste to get rid of Bhatkal and Akhtar. All the good work done by the state police officials, particularly Motihari superintendent of police, has been nullified. Had Bhatkal been held in Bihar, the Bodh Gaya serial blasts case would have been cracked and his connections in the state and his future plans would have been laid bare," he said.
Chief minister Nitish Kumar is yet to issue a statement on the arrests.
Bhatkal is believed to be the main recruiter of IM and has set up countless sleeper cells in Bihar as well as find new hide-outs.
Bihar ADG, special branch, Rajesh Chandra said, "There was no case against Bhatkal or his accomplice on Bihar soil and as the NIA already had a look-out notice for him based on a non-bailable warrant issued on July 18, the Bihar Police could not hold him,” he said
Asked about arrest of 11 IM operatives from Darbhanga and how the area was becoming a hub for anti-national activity, a police official said all arrests in the case were carried out by state forces from Mumbai, Hyderabad, Karnataka and Chennai in close cooperation with the NIA and the Bihar forces had no part in them.
Regarding the Bodh Gaya blasts, the official said, “In view of the international ramifications of the blasts, the case has been transferred to the NIA. Also, interrogators could not find any link between IM and Bodh Gaya blasts after questioning Bhatkal at Motihari.”