Bhatkal is one of the most wanted terrorists in India and is responsible for several terror attacks in the country. The ‘Master of Disguise’ caused the terrorism ruckus in the country in the year 2008-2009. Here are a few facts about the Indian Mujahid.
Born January 15, 1983, Bhatkal’s original name is Mohammed Zarar Ahmed Siddhibappa and he hails from Uttara Kannada district, about 400 km from Karnataka’s capital Bangalore.
2. The beginning
According to a police official, at the age of around 19, Bhatkal was an idler and used to frequent Anjuman Engineering College in Bhatkal town of north Karnataka. Possessing an aggressive nature, Bhatkal, police said, was radicalized following the US invasion of Afghanistan after the 9/11 terror attack on the US and the communal riots of Gujarat in 2002. Passionate about jihad, Bhatkal would often visit the library of the engineering college to read Islamic books and texts, especially those that talked about holy war.
3. Turning point
In October 2002, he attended a lecture by Maulana Shish, a motivational speaker believed to be based in Pakistan. An emotionally stirred Bhatkal personally met Shish, who further radicalized his thoughts and convinced him to wage war against the Indian state and its people, officials added. It was around that time that Bhatkal came in contact with Unani medicine practitioner-turned-Islamist Iqbal Ismail Shahbandri along with his brother Riyaz Ismail Shahbandri.
4. Crimes committed
Chargesheets filed by anti-terror agencies of twelve different states claim that Bhatkal planted bombs in at least ten of the blasts that rocked the country since 2008 — Ahmedabad (2008), Surat (2008), Jaipur (2008), New Delhi (2008), Dashashwamedh Ghat in Varanasi (2010), Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru (2010), German Bakery in Pune (2011), Mumbai (2011), Hyderabad (2013) and Bengaluru (2013).
5. Master of disguise
Intelligence officials claim that Bhatkal is a master of disguise. This has been one of the reasons cited for his continued success at eluding arrests. As per reports in Tehelka, in 2008, the Kolkata Police had arrested him in a counterfeit currency case. Bhatkal was let off on bail after serving a month-long sentence.
6. Indian Mujaheddin
In 2007, he co-founded the Indian Mujaheddin along with six others. The group unleashed havoc across India with a spate of bombings. One of the most famous targets was the German Bakery in Pune where seventeen people died in 2010. The group was also blamed for nine synchronized explosions in Jaipur that killed sixty people and the Delhi bomb attacks the same year in which thirty people perished.
7. India’s most wanted
His name topped the list of fifteen most wanted terrorists prepared by Delhi investigators. Bhatkal is a very “sharp man” and has immense zeal and commitment towards his purpose, investigators tracking him for years said. Virtually the backbone of the Indian Mujaheddin network, he was on the run for the past five years and took refuge in countries such as Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan.
8. Personal life
According to locals, Bhatkal married Zahida around 2008. Like always, he even hid his identity from his in-laws. “He had told them that his name is Imran and he hails from Lucknow. We have not seen him much. Months after the marriage, he had left Zahida with her parents promising to return after some time but he never did that,” said a local.