Yasin Bhatkal walked out of Kolkata jail as 'Bulla Mallik'

Ten days before the twin blasts struck Hyderabad, the Mumbai police announced a Rs 10 lakh award for information on Yasin Bhatkal. It was a desperate attempt for a breakthrough in the hunt for a 30-year-old who, since 2007, has been named almost every year in a terror attack in the country, but who has always managed to escape.

As the Indian Mujahideen is named in the Hyderabad attack, Yasin, its co-founder, is again among India's most-wanted.

Only, by his own account and those held along with him, "Mohammed Ahmed Siddibappa" could have been long behind bars.

In December 2009, Yasin — by then already a key accused in the twin Hyderabad blasts of August 2007 and the Delhi blasts of September 2008 — was picked up by the Kolkata police in a case of theft. The complaint was filed by a man named Karishma Dhavan Seth.

However, Yasin managed to walk out of Kolkata's Shakespeare Sarani police station on December 29, 2009, a few days later, having convinced officials that he was Bulla Mallik, 26, son of Karthik Mallik, a resident of "No. 9, North Range, Kolkata-17". Two other persons arrested in the case identified themselves as "Mohammed Nowsad, 38, s/o Md Islam, footpath dweller of AJC Bose Road, Kolkata" and "Mohammed Jahangir, 36, s/o late Md Sabbir, footpath dweller, AJC Bose Road, Kolkata".

A report filed by the Bangalore police in the Chinnaswamy Stadium blasts case of April 2010, in which Yasin Bhatkal is the prime accused, mentioned how the Kolkata Police had held him and let him ago. As per the documents filed in the case, the Kolkata Police ordered the release saying "nothing fruitful came out" of the arrest. Three other key accused arrested in the case reportedly corroborated this fact. Of the three, Mohammed Qatil Siddiqui, who was with Yasin in Kolkata, was killed in Pune's Yerawada prison on June 8, 2012, allegedly in a prison fight.

Though Shakespeare Sarani police station officials initially stated that no one by the name of Yasin Bhatkal had been arrested by them, they later identified him from a photograph. This was the photograph Yasin submitted at the Ranchi passport office as part of his passport application on January 20, 2010. The application was moved under the name 'Anjar Hussain', say records in the stadium blasts case.

Siddiqui, who also applied for a passport in Ranchi along with Yasin under a fake identity, reportedly told the Bangalore police that while Yasin had been arrested, he himself had managed to return home to Darbhanga, Bihar. He also revealed that Yasin, who popped up in Delhi in January 2010, days after his release, told them he was arrested because a man he had gone to meet in Kolkata was a dealer in counterfeit currency. Siddiqui also identified two Kolkata locals "Asif" and "Anzar" as being close friends of Yasin who operated a counterfeit currency racket.

Two other terror accused in custody, 31-year-old Mohammed Tariq Anjum, who allegedly was in engineering college with Yasin, and Gauhar Aziz Khomani, also 31, too told the Bangalore police that Yasin had talked about his arrest.

Once earlier, in October 2008, Yasin had had a narrow escape when the Karnataka Police had delayed a raid on a hideout near Kopa in Chikamagalur following raids on IM operatives in Mangalore. More recently, in November 2011, Yasin evaded capture when his father-in-law Irshad Khan and his associates were picked up from Chennai and Delhi.

Among the attacks linked to the IM in which Yasin lurks as a key entity are the August 2007 twin blasts in Hyderabad, the Delhi blasts of September 2008, the Pune German bakery blast of 2010, the Bangalore cricket stadium blasts of April 2010, the July 2011 blasts in Mumbai and the Pune blasts of August 2012.

In their February 11 announcement, the Mumbai police also announced Rs 10 lakh reward for information on three suspected current associates of Yasin — Tahseen Akhtar Shaikh, 23, Asadulla Akhtar, 26, and Waqas alias Ahmed, 26.

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