Indian Mujahideen operative Yasin Bhatkal and four other men were held guilty on Tuesday in the 2013 Hyderabad twin bomb blasts case by a special court, in the first ever conviction of banned outfit’s cadres in a terror case.
Pronouncing the judgement, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) special court in Hyderabad fixed December 19 as the date for announcing the quantum of punishment for the five IM operatives.
The five accused found guilty are Bhatkal alias Mohammed Ahmed Siddibappa, Asadullah Akhtar alias Haddi, Tahseen Akhtar alias Monu, Pakistani national Zia ur Rehman alias Waqas, and Ajaz Shaikh.
“It was a wonderful investigation carried out by the team in which every evidence was examined minutely. This is the first ever conviction of Indian Mujahideen cadres,” NIA director general Sharad Kumar was quoted as saying by PTI.
“We will be appealing for maximum punishment for the culprits,” he said.
The twin blasts in Dilsukhnagar area in Hyderabad on February 21, 2013, claimed 18 lives and injured over 130 people. The blasts occurred within a distance of 100 metres at crowded places in Dilsukhnagar on the evening of February 21, 2013.
The NIA, which probed the case, concluded that the blasts were engineered by the IM operatives. Out of the six accused in the case, the investigating agency arrested five. Main accused Riyaz Bhatkal alias Shah Riyaz Ahmad Mohammed Ismail Shahbandari is absconding.
- Born Ahmed Siddibapa in Karnataka’s Bhatkal town in 1983
- Become IM’s India operations head after founders Riyaz and Iqbal Bhatkal fled to Pak in 2008, post-Batla House encounter
- Set up bomb factory in Delhi’s Mir Vihar
- Came on Investigators’ radar as Shahrukh in 2008 for supplying IEDs for Delhi blasts
- Arrested in 2009 in Kolkata for theft but off as cops didn’t know his identity. Gave Delhi Police the slip in Tamil Nadu in 2011
- Nabbed at Nepal border, the second big catch in 2 weeks after LeT bombmaker Abdul Karim Tunda
- Carries Rs 10 lakh reward
Asadullah Akhtar, aka Haddi
- Born in Azamgarh in 1987
- Pharma student from Integral University, Lucknow(/li>
- Nicknamed ‘Haddi’ as father was an orthopaedic doctor (one who treats musculoskeletal problems)
- Frequent visitor to Batla House and Bhatkal’s right-hand man
For the last one year, the trial had been going on in the special court at Cherlapally Central Prison on the outskirts of the city where the five accused are currently lodged. The NIA produced 158 witnesses, seized 201 pieces of material evidence and furnished over 500 documents in the court.
Six months after the blasts, Yasin and Asadullah were arrested from an area in Bihar close to the Nepal border. Three other accused were arrested subsequently and the NIA filed two chargesheets against the five accused.
Yasin Bhatkal, named for the coastal Karnataka town where he was born, had risen over a decade to become the IM’s executioner-in-chief, playing a key role in blasts across India that killed scores.
He became IM’s India operations head after founders Iqbal and Riyaz Bhatkal fled to Pakistan in 2008 after the Batla House encounter in Delhi.
The 33-year-old is suspected to be the mastermind of five blasts as well as the 2010 German Bakery blast in Pune that killed 17 and the Dilsukhnagar blasts. He is also suspected to have played an active role in the 2006 Mumbai serial train blasts in which 187 people were killed.
The IM, patronised by Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba, was designated a terrorist group by the government under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act in June 2010. The banned outfit was declared by the US as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation in 2011.
Hatching a terror plot
In its charge sheet, the NIA claimed that IM hatched a conspiracy to wage a war against India and decided to carry out bomb blasts in Hyderabad to create terror in the minds of people and further the activities of the outfit.
Riyaz Bhatkal, the main operative of the module and who is named as the first accused in the case, allegedly directed his associates Asadullah and Waqas to find a place in Mangalore to be used as a hide-out for explosive materials sent by him.
After receiving the material that Riyaz sent through an unknown person and the money by way of hawala and other channels, Asadullah and Waqas reached Hyderabad and started working with Tahseen Akhtar alias Monu, who was already there and was living in a hideout in Abdullapurmet area, the NIA probe report stated.
The three of them prepared two improvised explosive devices (IEDs) while staying in the area.
The other material needed to make the bomb, including a pressure cooker and timers, were arranged in Hyderabad. After the bomb was made, on February 21, they mounted two IEDs on two bicycles (purchased by them for that purpose), and planted them in two separate places in Dilsukhnagar, it said.
The NIA investigation has brought to evidence all the financial help received by the accused from abroad.
The NIA also said it learnt that the miscreants, after procuring the explosive materials to Hyderabad, had conducted a test blast in a hillock near Abdullapurmet in Hyderabad.
The main feature of the conspiracy was that the accused were communicating through the internet, chatting with each other throughout the planning, finding suitable hideouts, purchasing material for the bombs, until the final escape. They were also found to have used proxy servers to hide their identity.
The role of Yasin Bhatkal in the planning, procurement of explosives and harbouring of Asadullah after the incident, was also unearthed by the NIA, the agency said.