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Who is 'India’s Osama' in Raj Kumar Gupta’s India’s Most Wanted?

While there is no official confirmation, the needle of suspicion strongly points towards two Indian Mujahideen terrorists, Yasin Bhatkal and Abdul Subhan Qureshi.

Mayur Lookhar

When a film is based on true events, it naturally generates a curiosity over whose life or incident the film is based on. Director Raj Kumar Gupta had us guessing the real identity of his protagonist and antagonist in Raid (2018), and with his upcoming film, India’s Most Wanted, he has introduced a fresh curiosity over one 'India's Osama'.

Gupta’s film is about five ordinary men who, led by Arjun Kapoor’s character, undertake a manhunt for a nameless terrorist, only described as 'India’s Osama' in the teaser.

According to a reliable source closely associated with the film, the character being referred to as 'India’s Osama' is based on Indian Mujahideen operatives Yasin Bhatkal and Abdul Subhan Qureshi.  

“From what I know, the film is based on Yasin Bhatkal, but Abdul Subhan Qureshi was referred to as Osama in Indian intelligence circles. So the character could be based on these two terrorists,” said the source.

Yasin Bhatkal and Abdul Subhan Qureshi

We tried to contact director Gupta for a confirmation, but got no response.

Based on the teaser and some digging, Gupta’s 'Osama' does seem to bear similarities to alleged terror operatives – Bhatkal and Qureshi.

India’s Most Wanted teaser talks about the hunt for a man who carried out 52 terror attacks across India, killing over 430 people. Gupta’s villain carried out the terror attacks from 2007 to 2013. This was also the period when Bhatkal and his outfit Indian Mujahideen carried out several attacks across the country.

Bhatt has been accused in over 10 bombings. He allegedly masterminded several blasts across the country, including the twin blasts in Hyderabad in August 2007, 21 blasts in Ahmedabad in 2008, the blast in Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru [earlier Bangalore] in April 2010, German Bakery, Pune in February 2010, blasts in Delhi high court in September 2011 and in Mumbai in July 2011.

Gupta's terrorist is also said to have carried out blasts in Hyderabad, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Pune, Delhi and Mumbai. In the teaser, we see a bomb exploding at the Civil Hospital in Ahmedabad. It was one of the 21 blasts that took place in Ahmedabad on 26 July 2008.

Along with four other accused, Bhatkal was arrested on 28 August 2013 on the Indo-Nepal border. Bhatkal was convicted and sentenced to death by the National Investigative Agency court in November 2016.

Born as Mohammed Ahmed Siddibappa, he had other aliases - Yasin Bhatkal, Shahrukh and Imran. He took over as the head of the Indian Mujahideen after his brothers Riaz and Iqbal fled to Pakistan. Yasin himself had received arms training in terror camps across Pakistan.

Since Gutpa’s terrorists also operated from 2007 to 2013, and since Bhatkal has been in captivity since 2013, it does seem to suggest that he could be the wanted terrorist in Gupta’s film. But then why was he called 'India’s Osama'?

That infamous title belonged to one guy named Abdul Subhan Qureshi. He went by the name of Tauqeer. As per a January 2018 article in IndiaToday, Qureshi came on the Indian intelligence’s radar after he was suspected of planting bombs in the 2008 mass bombings in Ahmedabad. Qureshi started off as a member of the now-banned organisation Student Islamic Movement in India. Qureshi is known as a 'Techie Bomber' and was wanted by the National Investigation Agency for the Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Delhi blasts.

The Mumbai-based Qureshi was good academics, with a diploma in Industrial Electronics.  He also earned a specialised software maintenance training from the CMS Institute in Marol, Mumbai. Qureshi was arrested in Ghazipur, Uttar Pradesh by the Delhi police.

India’s Most Wanted will be in theatres on 24 May.