Riyaz Bhatkal: Shy student to terror mastermind

Discussion in 'Internal Security' started by rock127, Feb 25, 2013.

  1. rock127

    rock127 Maulana Rockullah Senior Member

    Aug 12, 2009
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    Riyaz Bhatkal: Shy student to terror mastermind

    MUMBAI: Seventeen-year-old Riyaz Shahbandri from Kurla was a shy civil engineering student at Nagpada's Saboo Siddik polytechnic in 1993. He would maintain a low profile and hardly participated in any college events. However, girls found his chocolate-boy looks appealing. Two decades later, he began making headlines as Riyaz Bhatkal, a suspected terrorist who has killed more people than the feared Dawood Ibrahim or the hanged Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab—more than 344 killed from 15 bomb blasts. Still elusive, today he is the most dreaded face of the banned terror outfit Indian Mujahideen.

    Born in 1976 as Riyaz Ismail Shahbandri in Bhatkal village of Karnataka, he came to be known as Roshan Jamal, while staying at the 60-year-old, two-storey building Qadir Mansion in Kurla here. Today his family owns two rooms in the building, which have been rented out as they wanted to stay away from the police who would often land up at their place inquiring about his whereabouts. His father, Ismail, had shifted from Karnataka to Mumbai for setting up a purse-making business much before Riyaz was born. Despite obtaining a degree in civil engineering, Riyaz couldn't find a job and began helping his father in his business. By then, his elder brother Iqbal had joined a local developer's firm as a civil engineer.

    In 2001, Riyaz fell in love with a girl from Kurla but his family disapproved of the relationship and he was finally married to Nashua, the daughter of a Bhatkal-based businessman. A few months before his wedding, he came in touch with the Kurla unit of Students' Islamic Moment of India (SIMI). When he became a member of the outfit, it was already divided into two factions, extremists and the moderates. Riyaz preferred to stay with the first group. While the outfit was banned and its members arrested, he managed to evade the police. Soon he started preaching the SIMI ideology and was considered as a key figure among his associates. At the same time, Riyaz came in touch with local goons and started extorting money from traders in order to fund the activities of SIMI. "In 2002, he allegedly gave supari to kill the owner of Deepak Farsan in Kurla. The shooters killed the owner's bodyguard and Riyaz was never arrested," said an investigator of the case.

    A city crime branch official said, "A year later, he entered Pakistan illegally and got training in operating fire arms and assembling explosives at a Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) camp. In 2004, along with Atif Ameen (who was later killed in the Batla House encounter in 2008), Sadiq Asrar Shaikh (who is behind bars in Mumbai), Subhan Qureishi alias Tauqeer and Yasin Bhatkal (both absconding), he conducted his first training for Indian men at Jolly Beach, a farm house in Bhatkal. Yasin, though hailing from Bhatkal, is not related to Riyaz. In 2005, the quintet executed their first terror blast at Sankat Mochan temple in Uttar Pradesh. While Riyaz provided the explosives, Tauqeer and Shaikh recruited the men. This was the time the group decided to name itself Indian Mujahideen (IM). Cops were unaware of its existence. Iqbal too had got influenced by the extremist ideology. He was one of the founder members of the IM.

    "Soon after executing the bombings at the court premises in Lucknow, Varanasi and Faizabad on November 23, 2007, IM sent its first email to a news channel, claiming responsibility," the charge sheet on these blasts reads. In 2008, IM carried out bombings in Bangalore and Ahmedabad and for the first time Riyaz's name cropped up during the probe. He had conducted a seven-day training session for new recruits at Bhatkal prior to the blasts." After police started visiting Bhatkal frequently in search of him, Riyaz escaped to Pakistan in 2008 via Bangladesh. That was the last time his family saw him," a senior ATS officer added. Meanwhile, his father was last spotted in Mumbai on April 16, 2008, when he had gone to collect rent for his two rooms in Qadir Mansion.

    In March 2010, Riyaz travelled to Colombo and met Yasin Bhatkal, Mohsin Chaudhry and Mirza Himayat Bain to plan Pune's German Bakery bomb blast. In July 2011, a red corner notice was issued against Riyaz in connection with the 2008 Bangalore blast. The chargesheet in Mumbai's July 13, 2011, triple blast cases said that "the entire criminal conspiracy was hatched by Riyaz and Yasin Bhatkal", who are "the chief cogs of the notorious" IM. The banned terrorist group, it adds, was created by Pakistani spy agency ISI "to spread terror in India". Riyaz and his brother Iqbal Bhatkal "operate from Pakistan" and impart instructions via electronic means to their associates based here through Yasin. According to forensic reports, Trinitrotoluene (TNT), ammonium nitrate and petroleum oil were used in the Mumbai bomb blasts.

    This is the story as narrated by Riyaz's proteges, neighbors, friends and police. However, no one knows Riyaz's side of the story.

    Riyaz Bhatkal's bloody trail:
    Oct 29, 2005: Paharganj, Sarojini Nagar and Gopal Nagar in Delhi, killed 62
    March 7, 2006: Sankat Mochan temple, Kashi Viswanath temple in Varanasi, killed 28
    Nov 24, 2006: Faizabad, Lucknow and Varanasi courts
    May 25, 2007: Gorakhpur market
    Aug 25, 2007: Lumbini Park and Gokul Chat in Hyderabad, killed 42
    May 23, 2008: Jaipur, killed 80
    July 24, 2008: Bangalore, killed 02
    July 25, 2008: Ahmedabad serial explosions, killed 56
    July 26, 2008: Surat (bombs defused)
    Sept 13, 2008: Delhi, killed 30
    Feb 13, 2010: Pune German Bakery blast, killed 17
    July 13, 2011: Mumbai triple blasts, killed 27
    August 1, 2012: Pune serial bomb blasts

    Total killed: 344

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