Thursday, July 12, 2012

‘Poor police coordination helped big fish flee’

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Had the Delhi police special cell not tried to pick up Indian Mujahideen (IM) leader Yasin Bhatkal and two Pakistani bombers on their own while in Mumbai, the Maharashtra police might have got the main perpetrators of the 13/7 blasts, say state police sources.

    Two Pakistani bombers, Waqqas and Tabrez, were living discreetly at Habib Apartments, Byculla when a Delhi police team came to the city
with its informer, Naqi Ahmed. Naqi was later picked up by the Maharashtra Anti-terrorism Squad (ATS) in a fake SIM card case. Police sources said that during the time Naqi was with the Delhi police, he was not making his frequent visits to Habib building. This might have tipped off the bombers, which led them to flee. Had they been picked up, they could have been used to trap mastermind Yasin Bhatkal. 

    Sources said the Delhi police did not contact the ATS, but took help
from the Mumbai Crime Branch at a time when the ATS was the prime agency probing the 13/7 strikes. Crime branch sleuths even arranged the accommodation for the Delhi police, said sources. “If the Delhi police were aware of the conspiracy and Naqi’s role, they should have contacted the ATS and shared inputs. A joint effort would have yielded a better result,” said an ATS officer.
    The ATS was probing a racket in which SIM cards were obtained with fake documents. But while it was searching for Naqi, he was with the Delhi police. “Had it been a joint operation of two states’ police teams, Bhatkal might have been in police custody,” said a senior police officer.
    It is also learnt that the Delhi police visited a gym where Waqqas worked out, seized the visitors’ register and collected the rent agreement for the room at Habib Apartments. The register and rent agreement are still with the Delhi police. “This is how we lost vital evidence in the case,” said a police source.
Hawkers move court
Hawkers who were banned from working near Opera House, one of sites of the 13/7 blasts, have approached the Bombay High Court seeking permission to resume business there. The petition is filed by Pancharatna Hawkers Vendors Welfare Association. The association said its members were operating stalls for years before the blasts. TNN

The Times of India, July 12, 2012

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