A top Indian Mujahideen (IM) operative who escaped from a Nepal prison after the April 25 earthquake was arrested at Bharaich in Uttar Pradesh, Delhi Police said on Monday.
A team of Delhi Police’s special cell caught 49-year-old Irfan Ahmad, who had allegedly executed several train blasts as a Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant in the aftermath of the 1992 Babri Masjid demolition.
Irfan was in Sindhupalchok jail when the 7.9-magnitude quake reduced prison walls to rubble, enabling around 200 inmates to escape. He was imprisoned in 2010 for faking papers to obtain Nepalese citizenship under a pseudonym — Mohammad Ibrahim.
He came to his brother-in-law’s home in Bahraich from where he was nabbed on May 7.
Police said they were on the hunt for Irfan for the past 14 years since he jumped parole and fled to Nepal after meeting hardcore jihadists during a short stint in Tihar jail.
He was first arrested on January 17, 1994, by the special cell for his LeT links and convicted in 1999.
In Tihar, Irfan came across Aasif Reza Khan, an IM jihadist doing the bidding for the ISI, the Pakistani spy agency, police sources said. They formed a clique with terrorist Mushtaq Ahmad Zargar, who was later released in Kandhahar in exchange for passengers of the hijacked Indian Airlines IC-814 flight.
“Aasif’s jail term was nearing end and he told Irfan he should escape and join him in Kolkata. In 2001, Irfan got parole for four days to attend his brother’s wedding and fled to Kolkata to meet Aasif,” a police officer said. “After a while, Irfan was made the Nepal head of IM.”
In Nepal, he started a small business and opened a cyber cafe, which used to act as the communications hub for the operatives.
Besides, he brainwashed Indian youth working in Nepal to join IM, said SN Shrivastava, special commissioner (special cell). “Irfan can lead us to sleeper cells and logistics hubs of the terrorist organisation in Nepal and India.”