A day after the state anti-terrorism squad (ATS) claimed to have cracked the July 13, 2011, blasts case, officials said a woman from the city called them saying that she had seen Yasin Bhatkal on a local train. They, however, refused to give the location.
During a press conference on Monday, ATS chief Rakesh Maria had released fresh photographs of Yasin, the mastermind behind the blasts at Zaveri Bazaar, Opera House, and Dadar Kabutarkhana. “The woman claimed she recognised him from the photograph,” said a senior ATS officer, on condition of anonymity.
“We are investigating all possible angles. The decision to release Yasin’s photograph was taken collectively by Delhi and Mumbai police,” he added.
Explaining his modus operandi, the officer said it was clear that Yasin travelled a lot to recruit fresh people. “He gives away money and asks people to stay in the cities where the blasts are to be carried out. However, he tells the recruits not to stay with people they know,” he said.
When questioned how the ATS had obtained his recent photograph, the officer refused to comment saying it would damage ongoing investigations.
According to the officer, the ATS learnt about the involvement of the Indian Mujahideen (IM) in the blast in August 2011.
The ATS had started to track the hawala transactions in the case and found that Rs10 lakh received thorough hawala channels were used to fund the blast. Haroon Rashid Naik, whose custody the ATS is currently seeking, was the main person behind the transaction.
Haroon had been on the police radar for a while as he was earlier associated with the Students Islamic Movement of India (Simi). He was arrested on August 22, 2011, in a fake currency racket, the officer said.
The ATS is awaiting the reports of the forensic tests on the explosives and DNA tests on the clothes seized from room number 53 at Habib building, Byculla, which was rented by Bhatkal. “The ATS is also analysing the computer recovered from the room,” he added.
Talking about the two arrests, the officer said, “We had established the Darbhanga connection in the last week of November 2011.”