Yasin Bhatkal, co-founder of Indian Mujahideen, wanted to carry out a jihad in the country using 'gulels' (catapult/slingshot), the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has found in its course of investigations.
Bhatkal wanted to train IM cadres in the use of such catapults in terror attacks. Bhatkal, said a police officer, even got 1,000 such catapults made but the plan never materialised.
Bhatkal told his interrogators that he returned to India in 2006 after completing his terror training in Pakistan. He stayed at a friend's place in Udipi, Karnataka, and worked at a cycle repairing shop. After the July 11, 2006, serial train blasts in Mumbai, Riyaz Bhatkal, IM founder, met Yasin in Udipi.
In the beginning of 2007, there were communal riots in Udipi and in some other parts of Karnataka. Bhatkal, said an investigating officer, wanted to avenge the humiliation meted out to Muslims by Hindus during the riots.
Yasin brought some gulels from Dubai and wanted to replicate them in the country and distribute them among Muslims in Udipi for their protection. "He planned to distribute some 1,000 gulels," the officer said.
Yasin told his interrogators that he planned to use stones in the catapults to target Hindus who "victimised" Muslims in Udipi. But investigators feel he is fibbing. They believe his original plan was to use small magnetic bombs in the catapults. These indiscernible bombs explode after hitting a target. "Once we find the catapults, we will get a clearer picture," he said.
Yasin tried to get the catapults made from a place called Arab Tabela in South Mumbai. He brokered a deal with a small-time blacksmith, Raju Bhai, who agreed to make a die-cast and 1,000 catapults for Rs18,000. During this time, Yasin stayed at a guest house near Mumbai Central station for Rs100 a day. His partner, Abu Bhai, too stayed with him.
The first die-cast was prepared using propylene. But it was rejected as it wasn't robust. "The next die-cast was prepared using nylon material," the officer said. Once the die-cast was ready, a thousand catapults were manufactured, assembled, packed, and given to Bawa to carry to Udipi. "Yasin sourced the entire money for the operation from Dubai," he said.