Yasin Bhatkal was holed up in a Mangalore apartment

Team purportedly from NIA questions Zephyr Heights residents
Last Updated 13 September 2013, 18:36 IST

A week after investigators visited Flat 301, Zephyr Heights — a three-storey commercial-cum-apartment complex in the heart of the City — residents of the apartment are still unable to believe that one of India’s most-wanted men and co-founder of the terrorist Indian Mujahideen, Yasin Bhatkal, and his associate Asadullah Akhtar, stayed in or visited the apartment for a brief period of time.

Confirming the visit of officials said to be from the National Investigation Agency (NIA), one of the neighbours of the apartment on Attavar Main Road  said that he learnt about the incident only when he and his family members were questioned by them about the movements of people staying in flat number 301.

“We never bothered to check who visits which flat, as a few them are occupied by students who keep coming and going,” he said.

Another person, who did not wish to be named, said he had seen a couple of times men wearing helmets visiting the said flat. “But we never bothered about it, as many people wear helmet even after they park their vehicles till they reach their homes.”

A shopkeeper in the vicinity too said he had seen only one person brought with his face covered and being taken straight to the flat and later brought back with “tinted glass” to the parked vehicle bearing a Bangalore registration number (KA-04).
The apartment is hardly 10 metres from the Attavar Main Road.

Sources in the airport, too, said perhaps none of the staff was aware who came in the special flight and where were they were taken? “I came to know about it only the following day through the media that NIA officials had brought one of the two accused to Mangalore by plane,” the source said.

The Zephyr Heights proprietor and a doctor in a prestigious hospital in Mangalore said they were not at home when the officials visited their flats on September 4. Stating that he was not aware of his tenants’ activities, he said his father had rented the flat a few months ago when the tenants approached them following a notice put up outside the apartment after the previous tenants had vacated.

Referring to an article that “the accused stayed in the apartment for the last six years,” he said, “How can they stay in the apartment for six years when it was constructed only three years ago!”

Sources in the police department said one of the two accused brought by the NIA officials was also taken to another place on the outskirts of the City, though he was not sure where.

Many police officials, whom Deccan Herald contacted, said the local police were not aware of the visit of NIA officers.

(Published 13 September 2013, 18:36 IST)

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