The arrest of Yasin Bhatkal, one of the “founders” of Indian Mujahideen (IM), from an Indo-Nepal border area in Bihar is a major achievement for Indian security agencies. The Karnataka-born Yasin Bhatkal, caught with fellow IM operative Asadulla Akhtar, is alleged to be the mastermind behind many bomb blasts including in Pune, Ahmedabad, Surat, Jaipur and New Delhi. His interrogation will, hopefully, reveal more about these blasts and lead to busting of other secret cells of the terrorist outfit, linked to the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). It’s not known if the two arrests have any link with the recent arrest of Abdul Karim Tunda, a senior member of LeT.
One common link in the arrests is that they were picked up from the Indo-Nepal border area. Of late, there have been several instances of the Nepali security agencies assisting in the arrest of criminals wanted in India. They included a criminal from Bihar, Bablu Dubey, leaders of Naga and Assamese insurgent groups and an alleged kingpin of a kidney racket, Amit Kumar. These arrests show that Nepal has become a haven for criminals wanted in India. They also show that the Nepalese authorities are sensitive to India’s security concerns. Their relations need to be strengthened in the fight against terrorism.
However welcome the cooperation between Indian and Nepalese security agencies may be, it is not a substitute for beefing up border security. The reason why criminals, militants and terrorists are attracted to the border is not far to seek. The porous border allows free movement of goods like weapons, contraband, fake currency and drugs. Whenever they feel the heat of policing in one country, they can easily escape into the other. The mushrooming of religious educational centres along the border has been arousing suspicion. They are not related to sudden demographic changes. It is against this backdrop that India should strengthen its security presence in the area to thwart terrorists like Bhatkal from operating incognito.