The game’s over for dreaded Indian Mujahideen (IM) operative Afzal Usmani. On Sunday, a month after he fled from the sessions court in Mumbai, Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad (ATS) officers arrested him from the Indo-Nepal border. Usmani’s attempts to hoodwink the police by shaving off his beard and moustache and colouring his hair came to naught. The ATS laid a trap for him after his nephew was detained.
Rakesh Maria, additional director general of police, ATS, said inspector Dinesh Kadam of the Kalachowki unit of ATS got information on Friday that Usmani’s nephew Javed Nurul Hasan Khan, who too had been missing after his uncle escaped from court, was to arrive in Kurla. The ATS positioned its officers in the area and detained Javed from LBS Marg in Kurla.
“He told us that Usmani was at his (Javed’s) sister Razia Khan’s residence in Tatera village in Bahraich district of Uttar Pradesh. A team of officers left for Lucknow on Saturday and along with the local police, searched Razia’s residence. However, Usmani had fled from there,” additional commissioner Amitesh Kumar said.
The officers got a tip-off that Usmani had changed his look to avoid being recognised and was planning to cross over to Nepal. “We nabbed him around 3.30pm on Sunday from outside Rupaidiha railway station which is on the Nepal border,” said Pradeep Sawant, DCP.
Usmani was first taken to Lucknow and then brought to Mumbai. Javed and he were produced in a local court.
“Usmani had plans to settle down in Nepal using a fake identity. We are now investigating if Usmani was in touch with any of the wanted IM operatives since he fled from jail. We will get details of the people he met during this period. We suspect that he was being helped by someone from the IM. Interestingly, neither Usmani nor Javed were using their mobile phones since they left Mumbai,” said Maria. An ATS officer told dna that Javed had come to Mumbai to collect his academic documents which were essential for him to settle down in Nepal.
On September 20, Usmani was escorted by the police from Taloja jail to the sessions court.
Usmani escaped from the third floor of the court around 2pm. The ATS and other police units had been trying to track down his whereabouts since then.