The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad claims that it has cracked the 13/7 serial blasts case. But the probe will be remembered for the many monumental blunders that left the investigators red-faced.
While investigating the case, the ATS managed to arrest an informer thinking he was a suspect. This blatant lack of coordination between the various probe agencies helped mastermind Yasin Bhatkal slip away quietly.
When Naqqi Ahmed Washi was picked up by the ATS, the agency went to town claiming it was a major breakthrough in the 13/7 case. Its bubble was promptly burst by the Intelligence Bureau and the home ministry, which stated that Naqqi was a key informer who kept investigators updated about the Indian Mujahideen's operations in Bihar.
The IB was planning to nab terrorist Yasin Bhatkal with the help of Naqqi, who was helping the agency gather information on the terrorist. Naqqi had been handpicked by the IB, which had set him up as an informer.
Naqqi had passed on some crucial information regarding Bhatkal that was shared by the IB and the Delhi police, which had carried out the first operation against IM in Tamil Nadu.
Through his sources, Naqqi found out that Yasin was due to arrive in Mumbai and stay in the Byculla area. When this information was shared with the ATS, instead of acting upon it, the agency picked up Naqqi. This monumental blunder by the ATS helped Yasin slip away and considerably eroded the trust informers had in the system.
On the night that Yasin was supposed to arrive at Byculla, Naqqi was picked up by the ATS and trumpeted as the man who had moved Rs 1.5 lakh through the IM terrorist for the 13/7 operation.
Yasin managed to flee amid all the confusion and is yet to be traced.
Naqqi's detention sparked off a territorial feud among the ATS, the Delhi police and the Intelligence Bureau. The IB was extremely upset that their informer had been nabbed due to a hurried operation. Desperate to show head count, the ATS was picking up whoever they could.
The botched-up operation revealed several shortcoming on the ATS's part while probing the 13/7 blasts.
The agency had Naqqi under surveillance but failed to realise that he was working as an informer.
According to ATS officials, Naqqi had visited Madanpura several times. But they could not figure out that he had visited that place with members of the special cell and had passed on information to them.
This incident also exposed the shocking lack of coordination among the various probe agencies. Try as it might, the ATS could not cover up the embarrassment caused by its blunder. And Bhatkal, who is wanted in connection with multiple terror attacks, managed to escape once again.