Afzal Usmani, absconding Indian Mujahideen operative, rearrested

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MUMBAI: Fugitive Indian Mujahideen operative Afzal Usmani, who had escaped from a Mumbai court last month, was rearrested by Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad from a place in Uttar Pradesh on Sunday when he was trying to flee to Nepal, police said on Monday.

Usmani, an accused in the 2008 Ahmedabad bombings case, was arrested outside Rupadia railway station around 3.30 am, Maharashtra ATS chief Rakesh Maria told reporters.

Usmani’s arrest materialized after his nephew Javed Nurullah Hussain Khan, who had assisted in his escape from Mumbai, was picked up by the ATS on October 25, Maria said.

The officer said Javed, who was arrested, informed ATS that Usmani was camping at Tatera village in Bahraich district of Uttar Pradesh with his relatives since fleeing the MCOCA court in Mumbai.

Following the input received from Javed, an ATS team reached Tatera village but Usmani managed to slip away. He was, however, tracked down to Rupadia railway station and arrested, Maria said.

He said ever since his escape on September 20, Usmani travelled to Indore, Bhopal and Jabalpur with Javed, son of his sister Safia Khatoon, a resident of Dharavi, before reaching Tatera.

He had sent Javed to Mumbai to fetch some documents which could help him conceal his identity before escaping to Nepal through the porous Indo-Nepal border.

In a major security lapse, the 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 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 took 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.

In e-mail messages to some TV channels, the home-grown terror outfit had claimed responsibility for the blasts.

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