Afzal Usmani, who is one of 38 persons given death penalty in 2008 Ahmedabad blast case, was the first Indian Mujahideen (IM) operative to be arrested by the Mumbai Crime Branch which later led to busting of entire IM module across India. After the blasts the focus shifted to cars that were used to plant explosives and the probe led to car thief Afzal Usmani.
Recalling how the IM modules were busted and how the first set of arrests were made by the Mumbai police, then head of Property Cell of Mumbai Police and retired Assistant Commissioner of Police, Arun Chavan said, "In 2008, when the bombs had exploded in Ahmedabad and explosive laden vehicles were found in Surat, the primary probe revealed that those vehicles were from Navi Mumbai. We then began probing the stolen vehicles angle. First we took details of the route which was taken by the vehicles that were stolen. Then we got to know about two persons who had stolen the vehicles and had sold them to Usmani. Their questioning led us to Usmani in Madhubani tehsil in Mau District Uttar Pradesh. Usmani was also instrumental in the entire operation."
He added, "Two vehicles each were stolen from Vashi and Nerul and were sent to Ahmedabad and Surat. While the explosives-laden vehicles exploded in Ahmedabad, the explosives planted in Surat vehicles were traced before they could explode. We then learnt that Usmani had bought those vehicles from car thieves. Usmani then told us about Riyaz Bhatkal and Mohammad Sadiq who were top heads of IM. Total 21 persons of IM were caught by Mumbai Police."
Chavan said that two modules of IM were functioning. "South India module of IM was being headed by Riyaz and Iqbal Bhatkal brothers and were acting on the instructions of Pakistan based handlers. South Module had members from Pune, Bhatkal and Mangalore. North module was headed by Sadiq, who had also visited Pakistan and had taken terror training for a year. On returning he had sent 16 youths from Azamgarh in UP for terror training. He made his own module in Azamgarh. Those involved in the Batla House encounter were members of his module," he said.
"In Gujarat IM wanted to do blasts at Surat and Ahmedabad. Sadiq decided to use his module to carry out blasts in Ahmedabad and the South module of Riyaz would carry out blasts in Surat. Riyaz had procured explosives and timer devices. Sadiq and Usmani planted bombs in Ahmedabad. Fortunately, while the bombs planted in Ahmedabad went off, those planted in Surat were detected before they could explode," he said.