On the run for over a month since his escape from a Mumbai court,suspected Indian Mujahideen operative Afzal Mutalib Usmani was arrested from outside a railway station in Uttar Pradesh while preparing to cross over to Nepal,Maharashtra ATS said.
Usmani,an accused in the 2008 Ahmedabad bombings case,was arrested outside Rupaidiha railway station at around 3.30 am on Sunday,Maharashtra ATS Chief Rakesh Maria said.
Usmani’s arrest materialised after his nephew Javed Noorul Hasan Khan,who had assisted in his escape from Mumbai,was picked up from suburban Kurla by the ATS on October 25,Maria said.
“19-year-old Javed was arrested for aiding and abetting Usmani’s escape,” Maria said.
In a serious security lapse,the 37-year-old IM operative,who was brought to the Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act (MCOCA) court along with 18 others from Taloja Central Jail in Navi Mumbai on September 20 in connection with Ahmedabad blasts,had given police the slip.
According to the ATS,after escaping from the court,Usmani took a taxi to reach Sewree where he took Rs 600 from a friend Akmal Khan before reaching Dharavi where his sister Safia Qatum lives.
Usmani met Javed,son of Safia,and narrated him about his escape. Javed,who was brainwashed by him on several occasions earlier,took Rs 5,000 from his home and the duo decided to flee to Uttar Pradesh.
“Usmani got his beard trimmed by a roadside barber at Dharavi,changed his dress and and then got a clean-shaven look at Sion in a bid to hide his identity. The two reached Sion by a taxi from Dharavi,following which they took a public transport bus for Santacruz from where they reached Borivali in an auto,” Maria said.
From Borivali,the two took a private bus for Surat and reached Bahraich district in Uttar Pradesh by train after visiting Indore,Bhopal and Jabalpur among others. Usmani was hiding in Tatera village,where his relatives stay,after informing them that he had been granted bail,said another ATS official,adding he had also applied for passport and driving licence under the assumed name of Wasim Sattar Khan.
Later,the ATS received information that Javed would be arriving in the city on October 25.
“Accordingly,a trap was laid and Javed was nabbed from suburban Kurla. Javed spilled the beans about Usmani hiding in Tatera village. Javed told us that he came here to collect his school certificate. Our team was immediately flown to UP and reached the village but Usmani could not be traced,” Maria said.
Acting on specific information,the ATS team,in co-ordination with the UP police,apprehended Usmani from outside Rupaidiha railway station.
According to the police,Usmani was involved in stealing four cars which were used to transport explosives to Ahmedabad and Surat. He was also charged with planting bombs.
A series of 21 bomb blasts had rocked Ahmedabad on July 26,2008,within a span of 70 minutes,killing 56 people and wounding over 200.
Some bombs were planted in tiffin carriers on bicycles. Many of the blasts targeted the city bus service,ripping apart portions of the vehicles. Two blasts had taken place inside the premises of two hospitals,about 40 minutes after the initial series of blasts.
26 unexploded bombs were found at different locations in Surat between July 28 and 30. Two cars filled with material required for making explosives and detonators were found parked on the roadside near a hospital and other on outskirts of Surat.
The home-grown terror outfit had sent e-mails to various TV channels claiming responsibility for the blasts. (With PTI inputs)