Two weeks ago, Bhatkal escorted investigators of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to several places he had earlier scouted as possible sites of attack and also his earlier living quarters.
That tour has now opened up a trail of paper as well as human stories, which indicate that police may have ignored crucial intelligence about the co-founder of the Indian Mujahideen.
Bhatkal is suspected of plotting the German Bakery attack in Pune in February 2010 and also one in Hyderabad's Dilsukhnagar in February this year.
IANS has in its possession a letter written in July 2012 by a businessman, Mohammad Hussain Shaikh, of Baina, a Muslim-dominated area 40 km south of Panaji.
This is an area Bhatkal reportedly visited often to recruit young men for the Indian Mujahideen and for indoctrination.
The detailed letter, addressed to a police station, claims that money was being pumped in from Gulf countries and that key members of the mosque were involved in "inciting people, planting hatred".
Shaikh specifically identifies "one person named Zarrar Siddibappa whose identity is fictitious and needs to be investigated as he is also a patron of the Jamatul Muslimin Shaffi Masjid's unregistered committee".
According to Indian security agencies, one of Bhatkal's many alibis is Yasin Muhammad Ahmad Zarar Siddibapa.
"Police were even alerted in writing about secret meetings being held at the mosque, controlled by Bhatkal natives," says Tara Kerkar, a social worker from Baina. (Bhatkal is the name of a coastal town in Karnataka.)
Goa Police's own internal intelligence units had recorded Bhatkal's presence in Goa several times since 2009, a year before the German Bakery bombing was executed.
The report claims that Bhatkal visited Goa often in 2009-10 and stayed for a few days each time before deciding to camp for several months in the state in 2011-12.
When the intelligence report was published by a newspaper in 2012, this is how Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar reacted: "One person named Mohammad Jawar ... was frequenting Vasco to get donation for a mosque. He was mistaken for Yasin Bhatkal."
The chief minister also said that the case of missing boys from Baina and the Vasco region of Goa, suspected to have been recruited for terrorist activities, would be probed.
Miriam bi, for one, does not quite believe this assurance. In April, her son Imtiaz, 17, went missing. Miriam claims Imtiaz was lured to Ratnagiri with five others from Baina area by an Abdul Hameed, also from Bhatkal.
"Three of the boys came back. My son did not. He called me a couple of times, but since then he is missing. My fear is that he may have landed in the wrong hands, with people who do all wrong things," she told IANS.
For months, the Goa Police refused to file a complaint about her missing son or probe the allegation she made against Hameed. But days after the Bhatkal issue heated up, a complaint was hastily registered.
"Many families have complained about their young sons going missing. But police don't take it seriously. They tell the parents that their sons must have gone chasing women," said Kerkar.
Deputy Inspector General of Police O.P. Mishra now concedes that the issue of the missing boys is a serious concern.
"I am getting a detailed analysis of missing persons from particularly that area (Vasco)," he said. "When we get feedback from the investigating agency, we will act."
(Mayabhushan Nagvenkar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
--IANS (Posted on 26-09-2013)