Bhatkal, wanted by police in 12 states for bombings and other terror activities in the last five years, was arrested in Raxaul in East Champaran district Thursday. He was arrested along with Asadullah Akhtar, his terror accomplice.
Bhatkal accepted his direct involvement in recruitments in Darbhanga.
Bhatkal revealed during interrogation that he recruited youth from Bihar's Mithilanchal region, including Darbhanga, Madhubani and Samastipur districts, in the last few years, said a superintendent of police rank official.
"Bhatkal confessed that he used to target young boys, mostly from poorest of the poor background, in Mithilanchal for recruitment to carry out terror attacks in the country," said the official who was part of a team that interrogated Bhatkal in Bihar soon after he was arrested.
He said Bhatkal admitted that he and his associates first identified potential boys and recruited them for a specific operation.
Only after they succeeded and their names or identity did not figure anywhere, then only they were taken for the second stage of induction for intensive training.
"Haan, maine bharti kiya hain (Yes, I recruited young boys)," Bhatkal told interrogators of Bihar Police, National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Intelligence Bureau, before he was flown to Delhi.
"Bhatkal said the recruitment process was a big task and a risky game. It was not easy to motivate the youth to join for a cause," the police official said.
Another senior police official said it is suspected that Bhatkal was the man behind recruitment of all 18 Indian Mujahideen operatives arrested by security forces from Darbhanga in the last two years.
"Bhatkal accepted his direct involvement in recruitments in Darbhanga," the police official said.
Bihar Director General of Police (DGP) Abhyanand earlier in the day said the state police did not arrest Bhatkal alone, but it worked with the NIA and the central intelligence.
"Bihar Police participated in the interrogation of Bhatkal along with the NIA and central intelligence body soon after he was arrested, as per the law," Abhayanand said at a press conference here, after the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) accused state police that it made no attempt to interrogate the IM co-founder.
Abhayanand said superintendent of police-ranked officials of Bihar participated in the interrogation of Bhatkal at Bettiah and Raxaul.
"Officials of Bihar Police and NIA as well as central intelligence interrogated Bhatkal for hours," he said.
Abhayanand, however, said Bhatkal was not staying at Raxaul. "He was arrested there on the basis of an input of the central intelligence agency that he was to visit Raxaul that day."
He said Bihar Police worked on the basis of the intelligence input, and "actively helped NIA and central intelligence agency in this secret operation".