Though several top IM operatives have been put behind bars since August last year, intelligence officials feel the terror network cannot be considered "dismantled" as long as Tauqeer isn't nabbed.
Also, he has strong connections in the sleeper cells of banned terror outfit, Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). Confidential intelligence information has revealed he's been regrouping SIMI and IM cadres.
Though investigators say it is too early to comment, Thursday's bomb blast in Pune has once again put the focus back on Tauqeer.
Ever since the NIA arrested IM co-founder Yasin Bhatkal from the Indo-Nepal border in August last year, security officials believed IM had suffered a body blow to its operations in India. Bhatkal's arrest was followed by a series of arrests in which several top IM operatives, including Asadullah Akhtar and Hyder Ali alias Black Beauty, were nabbed.
"These arrests have definitely dented IM operations in India. But Tauqeer is still at large... that is a cause for concern," a senior central intelligence officer said.
Mumbai police commissioner Rakesh Maria who headed the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) before becoming the city police chief said Tauqeer is an important operative. "Till the time he is not nabbed it would be wrong to conclude that IM's India operations are totally finished. He is currently among the most-wanted terror operatives in the country," Maria said.
Tauqeer, 41, has so far proved to be a slippery customer for Indian agencies. He is believed to have fled the country in 2010– 11 and according to intelligence inputs, is currently holed up in Bangladesh. "He fled the country after Yasin Bhatkal was given the entire charge of India operations," said another officer.
But after Bhatkal's arrest, Tauqeer has been given the task of rebuilding the IM network in India. According to a recent IB input and information given by Hyder Ali (SIMI activist who was arrested in connection with the October 2013 bomb blasts in Patna), SIMI activists are regrouping in the country. "With all top IM operatives behind bars, Tauqeer has been given the responsibility of reviving the terror network. SIMI is attempting to regroup and activate its sleeper cells and other networks," said the officer.