IM man Afzal Usmani who gave cops the slip held from Nepal Border

Minutes after he managed to flee,Usmani got his beard trimmed by a roadside barber.

Written by Express News Service | Mumbai | Updated: February 6, 2014 3:04 pm

Thirty-nine days after he escaped from police custody while he was brought to special MCOCA court in Mumbai for hearing,the alleged Indian Mujahideen (IM) operative Afzal Mutalib Usmani was arrested by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) from Rupaidiha railway station,in Uttar Pradesh near the India-Nepal border,in the wee hours of Sunday.

On Friday,the ATS had picked up Usmani’s 19-year-old nephew Javed Noor-ul-Hasan Khan,who had gone missing from his Dharavi residence on September 20 — the day Usmani fled the court premises. Javed has been booked for abetment along with forgery and conspiracy. Both were produced before the Mazgaon Magistrate court here on Monday,which sent them to ATS custody till November 6.

Minutes after he managed to flee,Usmani got his beard trimmed by a roadside barber. He quickly destroyed his kurta and got himself dressed in a fresh pair of clothes. He is believed to have walked into a second salon at Dharavi to shave off his beard and moustache,said Maharashtra ATS chief Rakesh Maria.

Allegedly the oldest associate of IM founder Riyaz Bhatkal,the escape of Usmani — an expert in making car bombs — had sparked fears of the terror outfit re-grouping in the wake of the arrest of Yasin Bhatkal.

According to the ATS,Usmani assumed a fake identity as Wasim Sattar Khan. He avoided boarding trains from within the city limits and used a taxi,a bus and an autorickshaw to leave the city limits. He boarded a train from Surat. Officials said his pattern of halts at Indore,Bhopal,Jabalpur before reaching UP also shows the “fresh networks” of the terror group.

The first breakthrough for the ATS came when Javed was picked up from Mumbai on October 25. He had allegedly returned to take his school certificate to create new identity papers.

Javed told police that Usmani was holed up at his sister’s house at Tatera village in UP’s Bahraich district.

A Long Chase

ATS used the same team that arrested Usmani in 2008. According to ATS chief Rakesh Maria,while the assumption was that the IM operative would change his identity,the teams could not be new as the agency needed police personnel who could identify him even from a distance. He was caught outside a railway station and his body language did him in,officials said.

The first breakthrough came when 19-year-old Javed Noor-ul-Hasan Khan returned to Mumbai on October 21 to pick his school documents. While his uncle was allegedly using an assumed name Wasim Sattar Khan to cross borders,Javed had decided to stick to his identity.

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