| The chartered aircraft by which Bhatkal and his associate were flown to New Delhi. Telegraph picture |
Patna, Aug. 30: Pokhara, a tourist spot in Nepal, has emerged as the Indian Mujahideen’s nerve centre, IM founder Yasin Bhatkal reportedly told his Bihar police interrogators.
Bihar police officials were tight-lipped on Bhatkal’s disclosures, but sources said the IM’s “brains” direct and control all operations in India, including subversive activities, recruitment, pushing fake Indian currency notes and others, from there now. And the operations are so organised that “the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.”
Earlier, Kathmandu used to be the nerve centre for Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) to carry out subversive activities in India.
“That nerve centre has shifted to Pokhara, a picturesque town equipped with ultra-modern facilities, as Nepal’s capital is on the radar of most countries’ intelligence agencies,” a police officer quoted Bhatkal as saying.
Pokhara, around 210km northeast of Raxaul in Bihar’s East Champaran district, is also called the “Singapore of Nepal”. There are 20 to 25 casinos. Liquor flows like water in the town surrounded with hilly terrain.
“The town is not only a safe hideout for IM operatives but also of some notorious gangsters from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh,” the police officer said.
Bhatkal and his close associate Asadullah Akhtar were arrested from Raxaul on the India-Nepal border on Thursday. Two laptops, five cellphones, three SIM cards of Nepal-based telecommunication companies, two fake voter identity cards from Uttar Pradesh and a fake driving licence were seized from the two.
Bhatkal told interrogators that in the past few years, Pokhara had become a favourite destination for IM operatives. IM activists used to sneak in from Nepal through Sunauli in eastern Uttar Pradesh and Raxaul in Bihar.
“Since the border is porous and visa is not required to visit Nepal and vice-versa, IM operatives based in Nepal frequently visit Bihar and UP to spread their tentacles. Moreover, Raxaul and Sunauli are connected by rail and road, thus helping activists reach their destination without any hindrance,” Bhatkal reportedly said.
Sunauli is close to UP’s Gorakhpur district. Some senior police officials, present during Bhatkal’s questioning, however, claimed he was staying in Pokhara only for the last one-and-a-half months. Before that he was in Pakistan. “Bhatkal left Pakistan after the Nawaz Sharif government came to power. He came to Nepal from where he, later, went to Bangladesh. But he returned to Nepal and deci- ded to stay in Pokhara,” a senior IPS officer told The Telegraph.
Bhatkal had of late focussed on pushing fake currency notes into India.
The notes reached Nepal from Pakistan through Bangladesh. The IM has recruited around 1,000 jihadis, who were imparted rigorous training after being inducted into the terror outfit.