Bhatkal used sleeper cell in jail to connect with Ansari

Bhatkal used sleeper cell in jail to connect with Ansari

 Investigation into the activities of Yasin Bhatkal and interrogation of some of his arrested associates have left the security agencies, including the National Investigation Agency (NIA), believing that the Indian Mujahideen’s (IM) head of operations ran much of his business sitting in Kolkata.

Sustained interrogation of arrested IM operatives like Anwar Mullik, Mohammed Fasih and others reportedly point out that even though Bhatkal spent a lot of time hiding across the border in Nepal’s Pokhara, he also spent substantial time in Kolkata.
The frequency of his visits to the city increased since the arrest of Fasih, the terror outfit’s funds manager, from Saudi Arabia in 2012.

With Fasih behind bars, the responsibility of collecting funds also fell on him because IM’s chief founder Amir Reza Khan was not in India for years and Bhatkal trusted very few people with the job. Although Nata Abdulla, the Kolkata youth likely to take up his job, was a trusted lieutenant and helped collect funds, Yasin himself dealt with large sums. “Yasin himself would make calls to businessmen or ask Abdulla to do it.

More than one source has confirmed that with bigger amounts he would be present when the money arrived. He used Kolkata as the base to make such calls,” said a senior police official. Yasin would regularly extort from businessmen from Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and even some in Bengal. Investigation into Bhatkal’s movements and antecedents have also made a startling revelation to the agencies.

Bhatkal, who was lodged in the Alipore central jail in Kolkata for a few days before jumping bail in 2009, strengthened his bond with fellow terror operative, Aftab Ansari. “According to our sources, they connected through a sleeper cell operating inside the jail and kept in touch,” said a senior official.

The official admitted that Ansari was able to make calls to Bhatkal from inside the jail when the latter visited Kolkata and passed on messages to Ansari. “We are yet to know what the two discussed. They could have been planning a jail break like the one at Sabarmati in Gujarat. We’ll find out from Ansari what the plan was,” an official said.

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