Acting on reports of the Intelligence Bureau about his movement, Delhi police had been hot on Tehsin’s trail for a few weeks, says Vicky Nanjappa
Tehsin Akthar, who is suspected to be the current chief of terror outfit Indian Mujahideen, has been detained by a special team of Delhi police from Samastipur near the India-Nepal border in Bihar.
Akhtar is suspected to be the mastermind of the Patna blasts in October 2013.
Tehsin's arrest comes close on the heels of the arrest of Waqas Ahmed, a Pakistan-based IM operative who was among the terrorists who planned and carried out the 13/7 serial blasts in Mumbai.
Tehsin became the chief of the IM after his boss Yasin Bhatkal was arrested in August 2013, say sources in Delhi police.
Acting on reports of the Intelligence Bureau about his movement, Delhi police had been hot on Tehsin’s trail for a few weeks.
Security agencies have remained mum about whether Tehsin was arrested before Waqas and his three associates -- who were arrested from Rajasthan on Sunday -- and if he provided information about the whereabouts of his fellow terrorists.
Tehsin reportedly enjoyed close links with a leader of the Janata Dal – United in Bihar who helped him set up a terror module in the state.
The Darabhanga module of the IM, which Tehsin and his boss Bhatkal set up together, planned and carried out the 13/7 triple blasts in Mumbai and the twin blasts in Dilsukhnagar, Hyderabad.
After Bhatkal’s arrest, Tehsin gradually started to shift the operations of the IM from Bihar -- where security agencies had launched a massive hunt for terror operatives -- to Jharkhand and Rajasthan.
The serial blasts in Patna -- at the site of Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s rally hours before the event -- was the first major terror operation planned by Tehsin.
Along with a group of amateur operatives, Tehsin had initially planned to assassinate Modi at the latter’s hotel in Patna.
But the heavy security deployment guarding the Gujarat chief minister round the clock forced him to change his mind.
Tehsin then fell back on plan B -- target the site of Modi’s rally.
The strike didn’t have its desired effect as several bombs, including one planted near the dais, failed to go off.
Before their arrest, Tehsin and Waqas had been planning terror strikes on a number of targets including Modi, election rallies by other prominent leaders and the luxurious Palace on Wheels train in Rajasthan
The IM has lost most of its top echelon of terrorists -- including Yasin Bhatkal, Assadullah Akthar, Waqas Ahmed and Tehsin Akhtar -- to vigilant security agencies.
Riyaz Bhatkal, his brother Iqbal and Amir Reza Khan -- leaders of the IM who supervise the operations of the outfit from Pakistan --will have to look for a new terrorist to take the group’s destructive agenda forward.
Meanwhile, Indian agencies are planning to put Yasin, Assadullah, Waqas and Tehsin in the same room and interrogate them collectively. This will help investigators weed out discrepancies and lies in their versions of the terror strikes, and help establish facts and figure out the IM’s future terror plots.
Before the Patna blasts, Tehsin provided logistical support for terror attacks like the Hyderabad blasts and the 13/7 Mumbai blasts while the actual explosives were assembled and made into bombs by Waqas and Yasin.
All four of the arrested operatives ferried the bombs to the target and planted them themselves.
They were apprehensive of using technology and only communicated with each other in person to avoid detection by security agencies.
Tehsin may also reveal the names of his political godfathers in Samastipur, who had, till now, thwarted any attempts to arrest him.
Image: At the site of the Patna serial blasts