The Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) arrested two suspected terrorists near Mankhurd railway station on July 6. The two are said to be part of the banned terror outfit Indian Mujahideen (IM), and were allegedly involved in the Ahmedabad serial blasts that killed 56 people on July 26, 2008.
Rakesh Maria, additional director general of police (ATS) told reporters that Mohammed Mobin Abdur Shakoor Khan alias Irfan, 32, and Ayub Raja Amin Shaikh, 28, were nabbed outside a municipal school near Mankhurd railway station. “The two were found in possession of a 7.65mm pistol and .32 bore revolver along with four bullets and have been booked under the Arms Act,” Maria said.
“The two were also wanted in cases involving threat mails sent from Matunga, Navi Mumbai and Chembur,” Maria added.
Irfan came to Mumbai a few years ago to try his luck in Bollywood, soon took to crime. “He started with bag-lifting at Kurla station, and graduated to motor vehicle theft,” Maria revealed. “He had around 25 such cases against him.” Ayub has a robbery case and motor vehicle theft case against him.
The duo stole four cars —three WagonRs and one Maruti 800 — which were used in Ahmedabad and Surat by the IM. The cars were stolen at the instructions of IM operative Afzal Usmani Muthalik, who is currently lodged in Ahmedabad jail. Irfan came in contact with Usmani in 2005 in Arthur Road jail.
“They remained in touch and in 2006, Usmani inducted Irfan and his cousin Shaikh into IM,” Maria said. Usmani had informed the duo about the ‘task’ sometime in April 2008 and instructed them to carry out the thefts in first week of July, 2008. Accordingly, they stole cars from New Panvel, Vashi and Nerul and delivered them to Surat and Ahmedabad.
The duo was on the run ever since the IM module was busted by the crime branch. “They lived in Indore, Bareilly, Rampur, Ghaziabad among other places and were involved in several car thefts,” Maria said.
“It’s a very important arrest as we now have the men who supplied vehicles to terrorists,” he added.
ATS, crime branch at loggerheads
The simmering professional rivalry between the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) and the crime branch of the Mumbai Police came to a flashpoint during the hunt for the two Indian Mujahideen (IM) operatives. However, good sense prevailed and a face-off was averted.
Sources said that a special unit of the crime branch had been tipped off about the two terrorists by a trusted informant almost four months ago, and was on the verge of tracking the duo down. However, the murder of senior crime journalist J Dey around that time forced them to put the operation on hold to launch a manhunt for Dey’s killers.
The ATS got wind of the crime branch’s unfinished operation and traced down the informant, who soon buckled and led the ATS to their prize catch.
ATS sources, however, claimed that the arrests was an outcome of an operation launched eight months ago. “We have cultivated the mole for our purpose. We don’t rely on informants other than ours,” said the ATS source.
This was not the first time that the two agencies had come to a head over a common target.
A few weeks ago, their tussle came to the fore over the arrest of some suspects who, the ATS claimed, were involved in a shootout in south Mumbai.
Back then, the crime branch sought to differ from claims made by the ‘rival’ agency.