People in his hometown claim that Ahmed Siddibappa, alias Yaseen, had joined the Taliban in Afghanistan and had died five years ago. The police, however, are certain that the man is responsible for several terror attacks in India. Vicky Nanjappa reports.
The police have been on the lookout for Yaseen Bhatkal - the prime accused in the German Bakery blast in Pune and for his role in regrouping the Indian Mujahideen, following which the country has witnessed a spate of terror attacks.
But strangely enough, people from Bhatkal, the costal town the terror accused hails from, question why the police is chasing a dead man.
In Bhatkal, when you inquire about Yaseen Bhatkal, the people draw a blank. His uncle, Mohammad Ali, says that there is no one called Yaseen Bhatkal. People living in the area too claim that they know nothing about him.
Ask the police in Bhatkal and they say his real name is Ahmed Siddibappa; Yaseen could be one of the aliases he uses. The last time that they saw or even heard of this man called Ahmed was eight years ago. They say he left for Dubai and worked along with his father Zarrar Sidibappa.
However, the police say that there was a fight between the father and the son seven years back and they never saw each other after that. His father too, on being asked about the whereabouts of his son, said that they had a dispute following which they never met.
No one in his hometown denies him having any links with terror groups. However, they refuse to connect him to the Indian Mujahideen. He went and joined the Taliban, they say. In Dubai he got involved with a couple of elements who coaxed him to join the Taliban in Afghanistan after which he left for that country, they added.
People from his town said that five years ago they heard that Yaseen Bhatkal died there. His family members, however, do not confirm this and only say that they have not seen him in a long time.
While Ahmed, alias Yaseen, was in Bhatkal, he lived at No 938, S M Zarrar Manzil, Jail Road, Maqdoom colony. He showed no signs of extremist behaviour and was pretty sociable with the rest of the people in his area. Moreover, Yaseen being related to Riyaz and Iqbal Bhatkal appears to be false. They may know each other, but they are in no way related to each other, the people of Bhatkal said. Even police confirm that there is no relation between these two families.
However, they do not deny that they could have met at a later stage and could be working for the same outfit. While Yaseen lived at the Maqdoom colony, the Bhatkal brothers resided at the Madeena colony. There was no trace of them being in touch with each other while in Bhatkal, the police point out. Their meeting could have probably taken place in Dubai through common sources, the police said.
Yaseen Bhatkal's stint in Afghanistan, according to the police, could well be a cover up to throw the intelligence agencies out of gear. They say that there is no doubt that he is part of the Indian Mujahideen and he was the man who planted the bomb at the German Bakery in Pune. He has a big role in the IM and probing him would elicit a lot of information on the outfit.
The Delhi police in particular have managed to acquire a lot of information on Yaseen and they even go on to say that he was present in Delhi when the Batla house encounter took place. Police claim that he never left the country and operated in India all through. Yaseen Bhatkal was assigned the job of regrouping the Indian Mujahideen, which he did to a large extent.
The Delhi police also claimed that Yaseen was closely associated with the Delhi, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Bihar modules and he had even thought of setting up a strong cell of the IM in coastal Karnataka, the police added.