Mumbai: A week before suspected Indian Mujahideen (IM) operative Afzal Usmani dodged the police and fled from a sessions court, an intelligence agency was intercepting phones of suspected persons.
Surprisingly, it had at least 13 such intercepts where callers and receivers spoke about IM and SIMI men who were preparing to flee from various jails. However, the agency reportedly did not pass on this information to other agencies since it was working on the case at that time to get more information. Adding to the horror was the escape of six suspected SIMI members from a Khandwa jail on October 1.
Sources in the security agencies say that had the input been shared, the escapes could may have been averted. Sources said that the intelligence agency, which monitored the suspected phone calls, had got information on the planning of a escape but could not zero in on the prisoners or the jail from where the escape was to occur as the intercepted conversation was coded. Soon after the two escapes, security agencies began talking about the “possible regrouping of terror suspects”.
A Maharashtra security officer said, “We are worried about Usmani. He could have left Maharashtra by now and might be waiting for money and instructions from his Pakistan-based friend-cum-mentor, Riyaz Bhatkal of IM.” The Navi Mumbai police are still probing as to who should be blamed for Usmani’s escape.
Security agencies have issued a nationwide alert to jails asking them to increase the security. “We are doing a security audit and making a list of old timers in the jail” said a Maharashtra jail official.
The Times of India, October 7, 2013